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Through mud and muck, Lakers grind up St. Croix 35-14

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The Lakers overcame mud on the field and lightning in the air Friday to beat the St. Croix Crusaders 35-14 in West St. Paul.

"It was like a big, sloppy soup out there," said defensive tackle Jon Tolbert. "It was fun."

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Tolbert set the tone with the first tackle of the game for the Lakers, stuffing the inside run after DL gave up the ball on a fumbled quarterback pitch.

Both teams had trouble gaining any traction offensively in the muddy conditions. The Lakers were largely stuck on their own side of the field the first quarter.

That changed early in the second quarter, when running back Dustin Rietsema broke out with a 33-yard run to the Crusaders six-yard line and Ben Magnuson ran it in around the right end to draw first blood and break the stalemate.

"It was really tough to run out there, it was slippery," Magnuson said. "It kind of took away from my game -- I'm used to cutting. It was fun, though."

It also appeared to put a damper on Crusader running back Matt Dvorak, a speedster who was largely neutralized by the Laker defense. He scored both Crusader touchdowns, but the outcome of the game was never really in doubt after the Lakers built a 21-0 lead by halftime.

The Laker defense was relentless in its run-stopping game, holding the usual potent St.?Croix offense to just 10 yards total net yards in the first half.

The DL?defense would more than cuff quarterback Gabe Greseth, holding him to no completions on the game -- the second time this season the Laker defense held an opponents' QB to zero yards and no completions.

Rietsema scored from 22 yards out at 8:38 in the second quarter after breaking through on a run up the middle.

The Lakers faced a third down and 21 situation when they scored their third touchdown -- a pass up the middle from quarterback Chris Gilson to wide receiver Adam Thielen, who made a nice catch and stretched for the touchdown.

Magnuson's extra point kicks were all good, in spite of sloppy kicking conditions.

The Lakers made few adjustments for the sloppy field, except to work the perimeter a bit more than usual, said Head Coach Flint Motschenbacher.

"Our defense played very solid," he said. "We used to run that same (veer) offense years ago, so we kind of knew what to expect. They do a good job of it."

Rietsema seemed to find the traction needed in the slop, gaining a total of 180 yards on 18 carries. He had runs of 22 (touchdown), two for 24 and 33.

Gilson finished with a second-game high 108 yards rushing, boosted much by his 87-yard TD?rumble in the third quarter.

The slippery field made life difficult for the offensive line, said Tolbert. "It definitely helped us. They couldn't dry block us, they just slid backwards, so they had to try to cut (block) us, and it didn't work."

Lack of solid footing cut both ways, said linebacker Josh Herzog.

"We had no footing what-soever as linebackers. You couldn't even stand your ground."

The Lakers scored again in the middle of the third quarter with the 85-yard run by Gilson.

Dvorak put the Crusaders on the board at the end of the quarter with a run up the middle. He scored again towards the end of the game after the first-string defense was taken out.

It was the first time the Lakers allowed an opposing running back to gain 100 yards or more this season, as Dvorak had 126 yards on 18 carries. He had only three yards in the first half, though.

The Lakers then scored again with a nice catch by wide receiver Ryan Kuehne.

"It was a good pass and a good route," he said.

"They're quick. We just tried to come out hard and hit them early ... It was pretty slippery in the center of the field, I just tried to keep my feet wide and stay to the side of the field."

Thielen finished with three catches for 99 yards -- all in the first half -- while Kuehne nabbed Gilson's only two completions in the second half for a total of 41 yards.

Gilson now has seven touchdown passes on the season.

The Lakers outgained the Crusaders 451-184. DL?also was only flagged three times for 15 yards, while St. Croix had one infraction for five yards.

Senior Jarod Griffith intercepted DL's eighth pass of the season, which came in the second half.

A thunderstorm approaching from the south lent an air of anxiety to the fourth quarter, and the game was finally called with 3:10 left because of lightning.

All in all, it was a fun evening for the Lakers, because it was a chance to play a non-conference game at an unusual location, and because of the "mud bowl" aspect.

"It was really tough to run out there, it was really slippery," Magnuson said. "It was fun, though. You don't get a chance to play in conditions like that very often."

The North?Country Conference championship game is now set up for Friday, as the undefeated Lakers at 6-0 will visit defending conference champion Thief River Falls, which played in Duluth Central Friday.

Laker results

Detroit Lakes at St. Croix Lutheran, Friday, Oct. 5.

Lakers 35, Crusaders 14

Detroit Lakes - 0 21 7 7 -- 35

St. Croix - 0 0 7 7 -- 14

DL - Ben Magnuson 5-yard run; Magnuson kick. 11:22, 2nd.

DL - Dustin Rietsema 22-yard run; Magnuson kick. 8:38, 2nd.

DL - Adam Thielen 29-yard pass from Chris Gilson; Magnuson kick. 2:34, 2nd.

DL - Gilson 87-yard run; Magnuson kick. 7:53, 3rd.

SC - Matt?Dvorak 2-yard run; Aaron Stokey kick. 1:29, 3rd.

DL - Ryan Kuehne 27-yard pass from Gilson; Magnuson kick. 11:09, 4th.

SC - Dvorak 6-yard run; Stokey kick. 3:10, 4th.

DL SC

First Downs 13 5

By Rushing 11 5

By passing 2 0

By penalty 0 0

Net Yards Rushing 311 184

No. rushes 40 38

Yards gained 343 193

Yards lost 32 9

Net Yards Passing 140 0

No. passes 12 7

Completed 5 0

Incomplete 7 6

Had intercepted 0 1

Interception yards 0 0

Total Offensive Plays 55 52

TOTAL NET YARDS 451 184

Kickoffs 6 2

Yards 265 62

Ave. kickoff 44.2 31

Kickoffs Returned 1 6

Yards 15 78

Ave. return 15 13

Fumbles 1 1

Fumbles lost 1 0

Penalties 3 1

Yards 15 5

* * *

Individual Rushing

DL --

Player NR YG YL Net

Dustin Rietsema 18 180 0 180

Chris Gilson 14 138 30 108

Mike Brodsho 1 7 0 7

Jarod Griffith 1 6 0 6

Ben Magnuson 4 8 2 6

Josh Tweeton 2 4 0 4

St. Croix -

Matt?Dvorak 18 131 5 126

Jeff Dubois 13 49 4 45

Gabe Greseth 7 13 0 13

* * *

Individual Passing

Player No Comp Inc Int Yds TD

DL --

Gilson 12 5 7 0 140 2

St. Croix -

Greseth 7 0 6 1 0 0

* * *

Pass Receiving

Player No. Yds. TD

DL --

Adam Thielen 3 99 1

Ryan Kuehne 2 41 1

St. Croix -

None

* * *

Kickoffs

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Jake Vavricka 6 265 44.2

St. Croix -

Aaron Stokey 2 62 31

* * *

Kickoffs Returned

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Reed Oistad 1 15 15

St. Croix -

Eric Johnson 2 29 14.5

Duchene 1 17 17

Flass 1 12 12

Dustin Salsbury 1 10 10

Phifer 1 10 10

* * *

Pass Interceptions

Player No. Yds.

DL -

Griffith 1 0

St.?Croix -

None

* * *

Sacks

Player No. Yds.

DL -

None

St.?Croix -

Team 1 9

Greseth 1 7.

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