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Laker head coach Flint Motschenbacher talks to his offense during last week's game against Robbinsdale Armstrong at Mollberg Field. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

Lakers lose heartbreaker to Grand Rapids

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Lakers lose heartbreaker to Grand Rapids
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

GRAND RAPIDS -- A swatted ball deep in the corner of the end zone was just one of numerous plays during a wild and crazy game between Detroit Lakes and Grand Rapids.

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But in the end, it was that one which decided it.

Grand Rapids' senior defensive back Dustin Britten's pass deflection in the second overtime of Friday's game sealed a 35-34 victory for his Thuderhawks team (1-2), which put together a second-half rally to down the Lakers (1-2).

DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher put all his chips in the middle of the table with the two-point conversion play, which came in the game's second overtime period.

Unfortunately, a win wasn't in the cards as Britten made a lunging defensive play on wide receiver Josh Stalberger in the corner of the end zone on a Joe Mollberg pass.

It was DL's last hope for victory, after Grand Rapids converted their overtime touchdown and kicked the extra-point kick to make the score 35-28.

If the Lakers would have made their PAT kick after running back Alex Mason's second O.T. touchdown, it would have been pushed to a third extra frame.

"We were pretty banged up on defense and we have a lot of kids who don't have the experience in situations like this," said Motschenbacher of his decision to go for the win instead of pushing the game to another overtime period. "We took our best shot and tried to get it to one of our better players (Stalberger), it just didn't work out."

The game certainly wasn't a black and white one, but it was in one regard -- as in the form of 26 combined penalties called by the referees on both teams for a total of 195 yards.

The Lakers were flagged 15 times for 110 yards, while the Thunderhawks were called for 11 infractions for 85 yards.

The sloppiness really reared its ugly head in the second half or more specifically in the third quarter.

The yellow flags and back-to-back turnovers by the Lakers sparked a 21-0 Thunderhawk run in the third quarter to eventually tie the game and force it into overtime.

After sophomore running back Daniel McGuire kickstarted Grand Rapids' comeback with a 56-yard dash and cutback to answer DL's third TD of the game (coming on a Mason two-yard rush), the Hawks' defense started making the big plays.

A fumble recovered on the Grand Rapids' 40-yard line, ended with a six-play, 60-yard drive scoring play, where sophomore QB Austin Pohlen hit tight end Matt O'Fallon on a screen for a 17-yard score.

On DL's next play, Kyle Kleinendorst picked off Mollberg and returned it 36 yards to the DL 19.

From there, Britten caught a quick slant coming off a no-huddle offense, as Kleinendorst tied the game 21-21 on the extra-point kick and completed the 21-0 deficit comeback with no time left in the third quarter.

Britten not only made the game-winning play for Grand Rapids as a cornerback, he was the team's leading receiver with six catches for 85 yards.

"Dustin has been injured all season and this was his first game back," said Grand Rapids head coach Tim Botsford. "He's just a good athlete and worked hard in the offseason. We also knew (Stalberger) was good as a wide receiver for DL, so we put Dustin on him the entire game."

The first overtime didn't concede a winner, as both teams scored in their four allotted plays from the 10-yard line.

DL did it conventionally, by ramming Mason up the middle and having Mollberg bull it in from the one.

Grand Rapids had to sweat it out a bit, as Pohlen hit O'Fallon for his second TD reception on third down and the ball resting on the 10.

Both went for the extra-point kicks to force the second O.T.

The Lakers scored twice in the second quarter, the first coming on a Mollberg to Stalberger connection their third of the season on a 25-yard TD aerial strike.

Stalberger sold the in route and juked out to create separation, as Mollberg laid the ball right on his hands.

During that 15-play scoring drive (which started with three consecutive DL penalties), the Lakers converted three fourth downs from one yard, five and 11 -- the latter coming on the touchdown strike.

On the ensuing Grand Rapids' drive, junior defensive back Connor McLeod picked off junior QB Matt Dorholt and ran free for a 43-yard pick six to put DL up 13-0 at half.

The Lakers added a TD in their opening drive, a nine-play, 63-yard drive, capped on a Mason two-yard dive and aided by a pair of long Grand Rapids' penalties.

But being down 21-0 didn't phase Grand Rapids, as they plodded their course for the eventual tie.

"I just told the guys never give up," Botsford said. "I feel we have a good football team here and we lost one I didn't think we should have last week against Duluth East. It's a big win for us against a very good team like Detroit Lakes."

Even after four turnovers and 15 penalties, Motschenbacher saw his team fight to the end.

"They did a good job and got back into the game (after the 21-point third quarter by Grand Rapids)," Motschenbacher said. "They held the momentum, despite all that."

With all the penalties, there were not big stats put up. McGuire led the Hawks with 107 rushing yards, but 56 of those came on his TD scamper.

The Laker defense held the Hawks to 117 rushing yards on the night.

DL was led by Mason with 85 rushing yards, while Mollberg had 99 passing yards on a 6-13 night.

Pohlen was 7-14 for 99 yards and two TD throws, while Dorholt was 4-12 with a pick, 31 yards and a pair of end zone tosses.

Stalberger finished with four grabs for 79 yards.

The Lakers will return home to host Duluth Central Friday, starting at 7 p.m.

Laker results

Detroit Lakes at Grand Rapids, Friday, Sept. 18.

Thunderhawks 35, Lakers 34

Detroit Lakes - 0 13 8 0 7 6 -- 34

Grand Rapids - 0 0 21 0 7 7 -- 35

DL - Josh Stahlberger 25-yard pass from Joe Mollberg; Steven Labine kick. 6:25, 2nd quarter.

DL - Connor McLeod 43-yard interception return; kick failed. 5:25, 2nd.

DL - Alex Mason 2-yard run; Brock Johnson reception from Mollberg. 7:07, 3rd.

GR - Daniel McGuire 56-yard run; kick failed. 6:01, 3rd.

GR - Matt O'Fallon 17-yard pass from Austin Pohlen; Shay Anderson run. 49.6, 3rd.

GR - Dustin Britten 7-yard pass from Matt Dorholt; Kyle Kleinendorst. 0:00, 3rd.

DL - Mollberg 1-yard run; Labine kick. 1st overtime.

GR - O'Fallon 10-yard pass from Pohlen; Kleinendorst kick. 1st overtime.

GR - Anderson 8-yard pass from Dorholt; Kleinendorst kick. 2nd overtime.

DL - Mason 1-yard run; pass failed. 2nd overtime.

DL GR

First Downs 12 10

By Rushing 7 4

By passing 3 3

By penalty 2 3

Net Yards Rushing 183 117

No. rushes 46 32

Yards gained 201 151

Yards lost 18 34

Net Yards Passing 99 130

No. passes 13 26

Completed 6 11

Incomplete 5 14

Had intercepted 2 1

Interception yards 43 56

Total Offensive Plays 64 64

TOTAL NET YARDS 282 247

Kickoffs 4 4

Yards 171 190

Ave. kickoff 42.3 47.5

Kickoffs Returned 4 4

Yards 96 78

Ave. return 24 19.5

Fumbles 2 0

Fumbles lost 2 0

Penalties 15 11

Yards 110 85

* * *

Individual Rushing

DL --

Player NR YG YL Net

Alex Mason 23 85 0 85

Logan Baker 7 55 0 55

Joe Mollberg 12 54 7 47

Nate Baker 4 7 11 (-4)

Grand Rapids -

Dan McGuire 11 115 8 107

Shay Anderson 9 15 9 6

Austin Pohlen 5 14 11 3

Matt Dorholt 1 3 0 3

Tyrel Cournoyer 6 4 6 (-2)

* * *

Individual Passing

Player No Comp Inc Int Yds TD

DL --

Mollberg 13 6 5 2 99 1

Grand Rapids -

Pohlen 14 7 7 0 99 2

Dorholt 12 4 7 1 31 2

* * *

Pass Receiving

Player No. Yds. TD

DL --

Josh Stahlberger 4 79 1

L. Baker 2 20 0

Grand Rapids -

Dustin Britten 6 85 1

Matt O'Fallon 2 27 2

Shay Anderson 2 18 1

Taylor Mathias 1 0 0

* * *

Kickoffs

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Nate Bausman 4 171 42.3

Grand Rapids -

Kyle Kleinendorst 4 190 47.5

* * *

Kickoffs Returned

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Erik Larson 3 76 25.3

Connor McLeod 1 20 20

Grand Rapids -

Anderson 2 53 26.5

McGuire 1 14 14

Jake Goodich 1 11 11

* * *

Pass Interceptions

Player No. Yds.

DL -

McLeod 1 43

Grand Rapids -

Kleinendorst 1 36

No. 14 1 20

* * *

Sacks

Player No. Yds. lost

DL -

Justin Holm .5 10

Davis Johnson .5 10

Grand Rapids -

O'Fallon 1 7.

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