Yellowjackets advance to Metrodome with convincing win
Jordan Hein and Payton Jordahl each scored two touchdowns in the first half to lead Perham to an easy 42-8 victory over Esko in the Minnesota Class 3A state quarterfinals Saturday.
The Yellowjackets scored on three of their first four possessions to take a seemingly insurmountable lead over the Eskomos amid rain and high winds.
"These guys are just so focused," Perham Head Coach Mike Jordahl said. "It's amazing and I'm just so happy for everyone on the team."
Payton Jordahl scored on a 36-yard swing pass from Hein, eluding multiple Esko tacklers on the play and sending a jab to the collective facemasks of the Eskomo defense looking for an early stop three minutes into the game.
Hein and Jordahl hit the Eskomos with repeated scores until the halftime horn. Hein scored from nine yards out to open the second quarter. Jordahl was untouched from two yards away for the Yellowjackets' third score. Hein completed the first half scoring with a five-yard touchdown run.
Perham led 28-0 at halftime.
"We've said all year, get better, get better," said Coach Jordahl. "We added to that and we did that today...and then some."
The play of the Perham defense set an early tone.
The Eskomos never got on track offensively and were shut out until a late score against the Yellowjacket reserves.
"They run a lot of counters and a lot of traps; we told our D-line if you blow that up it blows up the whole play," Hein said. "It worked out well tonight. They executed everything."
"Defensively, I don't think we could have played more sound," Coach Jordahl said.
Perham held Esko on fourth down numerous times in the game, including the most important down, on Esko's second drive with the Eskomos down only 7-0 and in the red zone facing fourth-and-11 at the Perham 18.
Perham defensive back Josh Nordick intercepted two passes to surpass Charlie Nelson as the Perham All-Time Career Interceptions leader. Nelson had 10 interceptions from 1986-89. Nordick's second interception was the 11th of his career, with the possibility of two more games for the senior.
Nordick led the Heart O' Lakes Conference with five regular season interceptions. His two on Saturday set the new Perham single-season record for interceptions with seven.
Nordick deferred to the team mentality when discussing his record accomplishments.
"It's kind of nice to say that, but I'm more focused on winning next Saturday," said Nordick. "A lot of kids on the team, it's been a dream of ours. We're such a close group; it's just awesome that we set our goals high and to reach 'em."
Luke Sailer scored around the end from 39 yards out to give Perham a 35-0 lead with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Sailer's score, with the help of Nick Bahls' point-after kick, put the clock in running time due to the 35-point gap and finished off a four-play, 92-yard drive that took only 1:14 off the clock.
Eli Beachy capped the state quarterfinal scoring for the winners with a 17-yard run.
Hein led all rushers with 128 yards on 13 carries in three quarters of play. He passed the 1,600-yard rushing mark for the season and is averaging nearly 150 yards per game on the ground.
Hein set a new single-season record with 1,608 yards rushing, breaking the old mark of 1,566 set by Eric Erickson in 1997.
Sailer's big run gave him a whopping average of 22-yards-per-carry after he gained 66 yards on three runs. Jordahl gained 50 yards on 10 carries with two TDs. Nordick had two catches for 22 yards to go deuces wild with his two interceptions.
Cole Schmitz has come alive defensively in the playoffs, following a solid game at Fargodome in the section final and leading Perham with eight tackles, five solo, Saturday in Duluth.
Jon Laughlin made three tackles, one for a loss, had an interception and a sack.
In the past two playoff games, the Yellowjackets have outscored their opponents 93-34.
No. 5 Perham advances to the state semifinals at the Metrodome, Saturday, Nov. 17 at 4:30 p.m.
The Yellowjackets will face Section 3-3A champs and No. 2-ranked Blue Earth Area. Blue Earth defeated No. 3 St. Croix Lutheran 21-12 Saturday evening in Lakeville.
This will be the Yellowjackets' fourth appearance in the semifinals since 1989.
In the other half of the 3A bracket, No. 1 and undefeated Rochester Lourdes will play No. 6 Annandale at 2 p.m. in Metrodome, preceding Perham's match-up with Blue Earth Area.
Perham 7 21 7 7 - 42
Esko 0 0 0 8 - 8
8:52 PER -- P. Jordahl 36-yard run (N. Bahls kick)
9:46 PER-- J. Hein 9-yard run (N. Bahls kick)
7:52 PER-- Jordahl 2-yard run (N. Bahls kick)
0:59 PER-- Hein 5-yard run (N. Bahls kick)
7:13 PER-- Luke Sailer 39-yard run (N. Bahls kick)
4:32 PER-- Eli Beachy 17-yard run (N. Bahls kick)
1:18 Esko-- Earl Brinkley 25-yard run (Brandt Hintsala run).