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No. 6 Detroit Lakes pulls off stunner over No. 3 Sauk Rapids-Rice

Don't bury the Detroit Lakes football team just yet.

The No. 6 Lakers stunned the No. 3 Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm in their own backyard Tuesday with a 14-6 victory to advance to the playoff semifinals Saturday against No. 2 Alexandria.

With the 3-5 regular season behind them, the Lakers employed a stingy defense to put the clamps on the Storm offense, which racked up yards, but not points.

"A lot of people have given up on us, except the coaches and the players," said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher. "We were the only ones who believed in us and that's the most important."

Sauk Rapids had several blown scoring opportunities after racking up 342 total yards, while snapping 64 offensive plays to DL's 46.

But the Laker defense over and over cashed in on turnovers, including one interception in their own end zone and three recovered three fumbles -- including one in their own end zone.

The DL defense also forced six three-and-out Sauk Rapids' possessions.

The Storm's rushing game was stopped cold, as they were held to 126 yards on the ground, forcing them to the air.

"We just kept bringing linebackers into the different gaps and forced them to pass," said one of DL's defensive leaders defensive end Davis Johnson. "We just kept bringing it."

The pressure also came up front, as DL recorded five sacks on Sauk Rapids quarterback David Kroger, with three of them coming in crucial drives.

"We have not been bad all year and the defense just put it together tonight and the offense did their part in the win," Motschenbacher said.

The defensive effort started immediately after the first kickoff, which resulted in a Laker fumble on their own 28 to start the game.

It was just one of many scoring opportunities which went by the wayside for the Storm, as secondary man Andrew Pedersen intercepted a David Kroger pass, which was first tipped by cornerback Connor McLeod.

"That was huge, the defense got the stop and gave us field position," Motschenbacher added.

Neither offense could get anything going, with special teams playing a big part in the game.

A shanked punt by Sauk Rapids sailed down the home sideline where a DL blocker was engaged with his guy. The wounded duck hit the Laker in the back of the foot and promptly recovered by Sauk Rapids.

The Storm tried to spark something on the ensuing drive by converting a fake punt on fourth and three, when Cody Meyer took the direct snap and rumbled the appropriate four yards.

But once again, the defense stiffened and forced a three and out to force one of Sauk Rapids' four punts.

Instead, it were the Lakers who struck first with an impressive eight-play, 80-yard drive -- which was highlighted by a 65-yard catch-and-run by Tanner Duncan on a zinged pass down the middle by sophomore quarterback Joe Mollberg.

The Laker QB -- who didn't get much practice in during the last few days due to being sick -- threw for a total of 88 yards in the drive (DL had 15 yards of penalties in the drive).

In fact, Mollberg had his most efficient game of the season with a quarterback rating of 145.83 with 132 yards passing, a touchdown, no interceptions and was 5-8.

After Duncan's 65-yard sprint to the pylons, Mollberg hit wide receiver Josh Stalberger twice for catches of 13 and 10 yards, before the DL QB bulled his way in from the one-yard line for the score.

Another important step came with the extra-point kick -- in which the Lakers have struggled as of lately. But on this evening, Steven Labine was a perfect 2-2 on his PAT kicks.

The Lakers scored their second touchdown of the game late in the third quarter after completing a nine-play, 69-yard drive to put them up 14-0.

The drive was efficient, with sophomore running back Alex Mason and Mollberg taking most of the yardage on the ground.

For the third game in a row, a Nate Baker screen pass was golden, as the shifty scatback went 36 yards for the score to put DL up by two possessions.

In the second half, Sauk Rapids lost two crucial fumbles, both coming the fourth quarter.

The first came on a 43-yard reception by Nick Khalaj at the DL 24, while the second came on a Kroger fumble on the DL goal line for a touchback on the next possession.

The Lakers had a trio of three-and-out possessions in the fourth quarter, while Sauk Rapids had 28 plays in the same time span -- but only scoring a touchdown on the final play of the game.

Linebacker Alex Feldt had two of DL's five sacks, while Nate DuChene and Patrick Williams had one each late in the game to impede the Storm's movement to the end zone.

Johnson and Josh Eggebraaten each had a half a sack.

"We keyed in on their plays after studying them pretty hard, so we knew what was coming," Johnson said. "Now we are keying in on Saturday and ready to go."

With the new season starting off as well as it could have, Motschenbacher is happy with how things have turned out for his team.

"We're excited and the kids are playing together as a team," Motschenbacher said. "A lot of bad things have happened to this team during the season and they just stayed together and kept playing hard."

Laker results

Section 8-4A quarterfinals: (6)Detroit Lakes at (3) Sauk Rapids-Rice, Tuesday, Oct. 27.

Lakers 14, Storm 6

Detroit Lakes - 0 7 7 0 -- 14

Sauk Rapids - 0 0 0 6 -- 6

DL - Joe Mollberg 1-yard run; Steven Labine kick. :41, 2nd quarter.

DL - Nate Baker 36-yard pass from Mollberg; Labine kick.

SR - Nick Khalaj 8-yard pass from David Kroger; no PAT attempted. :00, 4th.

DL SR

First Downs 8 15

By Rushing 5 7

By passing 3 8

By penalty 0 0

Net Yards Rushing 94 126

No. rushes 34 30

Yards gained 101 161

Yards lost 7 45

Net Yards Passing 132 216

No. passes 8 34

Completed 5 17

Incomplete 3 16

Had intercepted 0 1

Interception yards 0 0

Total Offensive Plays 46 64

TOTAL NET YARDS 226 342

Kickoffs 3 1

Yards 105 45

Ave. kickoff 35 45

Kickoffs Returned 1 1

Yards 12 12

Ave. return 12 12

Fumbles 4 4

Fumbles lost 3 3

Penalties 5 5

Yards 40 45

* * *

Individual Rushing

DL --

Player NR YG YL Net

Joe Mollberg 19 54 6 48

Alex Mason 11 27 1 26

TJ Manning 3 12 0 12

Nate Baker 1 8 0 8

Sauk Rapids -

David Kroger 12 97 29 68

John Statz 6 35 0 35

Cody Meyer 9 27 9 18

Nolan Betterman 1 2 0 2

Nate Neesen 1 0 2 (-2)

Tyler Thelen 1 0 5 (-5)

* * *

Individual Passing

Player No Comp Inc Int Yds TD

DL --

Mollberg 8 5 3 0 132 1

Sauk Rapids -

Kroger 34 17 16 1 216 1

* * *

Pass Receiving

Player No. Yds. TD

DL --

Tanner Duncan 2 73 0

Josh Stalberger 2 23 0

Baker 1 36 0

Sauk Rapids -

Cody Meyer 6 71 0

Nick Khalaj 5 90 1

Tyler Thelen 2 14 0

Statz 2 (-1) 0

Jamie Villalz 1 24 0

Tyler Hendrickson 1 17 0

* * *

Kickoffs

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Nate Bausman 3 105 35

Steven Labine 1 30 30

Sauk Rapids -

Alex Schueller 1 45 45

* * *

Kickoffs Returned

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Baker 1 12 12

Sauk Rapids -

Thelen 1 12 12

* * *

Pass Interceptions

Player No. Yds.

DL -

Andrew Pedersen 1 0

Sauk Rapids -

None.

* * *

Sacks

Player No. Yds. lost

DL -

Alex Feldt 2 10

Nate DuChene 1 8

Patrick Williams 1 10

Davis Johnson .5 2

Josh Eggebraaten .5 2

Sauk Rapids -

None.

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