Raiders find plenty of ways to score in playoff win over Gators
The Lake Park-Audubon Raiders’ 21 first-quarter points came by a medley of different ways of finding the end zone, but none as important as junior Tim Brekken’s 86-yard kickoff return.
Brekken’s return for six points came at the heels of Badger/Greenbush-Middle River’s Wyatt Peppel’s 95-yard kickoff return to LP-A’s end zone, which blazed a trail to LP-A’s 42-15 victory over the No. 6 seeded Gators in the Section 8-1A quarterfinal playoff game Tuesday.
“It was huge,” said senior quarterback Mason Swegarden, who directed the No. 3 Raiders’ to 375 yards of total offense. “It changed the momentum big time for us.”
Brekken almost wasn’t able to make the return, after bobbling the kickoff and fumbling it to the left side of the field.
But the Gator defenders over-pursued Brekken, who paused and picked a big hole down the left side of the field, with no defenders in site.
“We didn’t want them to get away with their kickoff return, we wanted to answer,” Brekken said. “I was just able to make a couple of moves and saw a big hole (on the kickoff).”
The Raiders’ first eight points in the game came from the more unconventional route, which was kicked off by junior linebacker Aaron Felker’s 32-yard interception return at the 8:18 mark of the first quarter.
On the Gators’ next possession, they decided to step out of the back of the end zone on a punt attempt to put LP-A up 8-0.
The Raider defense was also up to the task, by forcing the Gators to punt seven times in the game, while Swegarden led a potent rushing attack, which took advantage of open perimeter runs after smashing the middle effectively.
That set up a couple of big runs by Swegarden and junior running back Taylor Briard, who were able to hit the ends and use their open field moves.
“There was some good blocking and we were just able to get to the outside and use our speed,” Swegarden said.
The LP-A quarterback had only five rushes, but two of them went for 45 and 32 yards, with the former leading to a one-yard plunge by Swegarden to put LP-A up 28-7 late in the second quarter.
Swegarden also directed a scoring drive in the first quarter, ending with him hitting Tory Haglund on a lob into the end zone from 13-yards out on third and 13.
The Raiders put the game well out of reach in the third quarter on back-to-back scoring plays, the first on Haglund’s three-yard pylon run and the second on the first play of the next series on Briard’s 80-yard scamper, in which he busted out of five would-be tackles.
The Raider defensive front seven were able to limit the Gators to 104 yards rushing on 37 carries (2.8 ypc).
“Our linebackers have been doing a very good job lately and filling their gaps,” said LP-A head coach Jed Swegarden. “We knew Badger was going to be a physical team, so we had to match that.”
The Raiders’ rushing attack accumulated 306 yards, led by Briard’s 132 on nine carries.
Swegarden also went 5-10 for 69 yards and a touchdown, along with one interception.
The win was also the Raiders’ first playoff victory in their new facility.
“That’s pretty special, because for these seniors, it’s big,” Jed Swegarden said.
The Raiders will now travel to No. 2 Red Lake County for the semifinals Saturday at 6 p.m., which was a 51-16 winner over the Northern Freeze.
In the bottom bracket, No. 1 Mahnomen beat No. 8 Red Lake 58-6, while No. 4 Fertile-Beltrami toppled No. 5 Fosston 34-20.
Section 8-1A quarterfinals: (6) Badger/Greenbush-Middle River at (3) Lake Park-Audubon, Tuesday, Oct. 22
Gators 7 0 0 8 – 15
Raiders 21 7 14 0 – 42
LPA: Aaron Felker 32-yard interception return; pass failed. 8:18, 1st quarter.
LPA: Team safety. 6:12, 1st
LPA: Tory Haglund 13-yard pass from Mason Swegarden; run failed; 1:30, 1st
BGMR: Wyatt Peppel 95-yard kickoff return; Cody Kirkeide kick. 1:12, 1st
LPA: Tim Brekken 86-yard kickoff return; Swegarden kick. 57.7
LPA: Swegarden 1-yard run; Swegarden kick. 3:56, 2nd
LPA: Haglund 3-yard run; Swegarden kick. 5:04, 3rd
LPA: Taylor Briard 80-yard run; Swegarden kick. 3:27, 3rd
BGMR: Isaiah Hewitt 2-yard run; Kirkeide pass from Aaron Dostal. 11:26, 4th
LP-A rushing (att-yds-tds): Taylor Briard 9-132-1; Mason Swegarden 5-83-1; Tyler Molacek 7-24-0; Tory Haglund 6-24-1; Tim Brekken 4-17-0; Payton Block 2-13-0; Chase Roy 3-11-0; No. 33 (name not available) 1-2-0. TOTAL: 37-306- 3.
LP-A passing (att-comp-int-yds-td): Swegarden 11-5-1-69-1
LP-A receiving (rec-yds-td): Jon Olson 3-25-0; Brekken 1-31-0; Haglund 1-13-1