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Screaming Eagles come up short vs. Shoremen

Fielding a team of 20 players, on the road and against the Northern Power League's top squad in the East, the Lakes Area Screaming Eagles found themselves backed into a corner.

It was a game where the upstart Eagles (1-6) could have taken flight or decided to bear down and fight.

The latter choice was made by the 20 players who were able to make the trip north to Duluth to face the 6-2 Shoremen at the Duluth Municipal Stadium Saturday.

Instead of using the excuse of being short on players, the Screaming Eagles clawed their way back from an impending 27-14 deficit late in the fourth quarter and came up 26 yards shy of pulling a stunning upset.

"From the get-go, I told the guys we were backed into a corner," said head coach and starting quarterback Jason McCloskey. "I told them that's the type of team which can be dangerous."

That proved to be the case in the 27-21 loss for Lakes Area, which even held a 14-12 lead earlier in the fourth quarter.

It was a game that had several unusual plays, which ultimately decided the game.

A tipped pass by Eagles' cornerback Rob Peterson -- which was nearly picked off -- was instead scooped up by Duluth's leading receiver, Hollis Dukes, which ended in a 39-yard touchdown to give the Shoremen a 20-14 lead.

The play came two plays after a Dave Moll five-yard touchdown run 40 seconds into the fourth quarter, a scoring series set up by a Moll catch-and-run 42-yard play.

The Lakes Area rushing attack was a perfect tool to set up the Eagles' passing game, which late in the game proved to be almost fatal for the Shoremen.

Moll rushed for his third 100-plus yard game of the season, with 117 yards.

"Duluth has a pretty weak run defense and that's what we attacked," McCloskey said. "Dave Moll is coming on strong and as the game goes on, he gets more physical. His long catch on third down was huge for us."

Duluth's passing defense was loosened up a bit in the fourth quarter, which led to McCloskey hitting his favorite deep threat, Mike Christensen, for a 62-yard touchdown strike.

Christensen made a great adjustment on McCloskey's pass on the sideline, then managed to juke out the Duluth safety on his way to open green the rest of the way.

It was Christensen's third long touchdown reception of the year, as he added a 20-yard catch in the first quarter for a team-high 82 yards.

"He's definitely our deep threat, and he's just getting better," said McCloskey of Christensen.

The long catch pulled Lakes Area to within 27-21, with 2:18 remaining in regulation.

Christensen's name was called upon again, this time on special teams with an effective onside kick, which was recovered by Jason Bachmann on LA's 39.

The Screaming Eagles were able to make it down to Duluth's 36, despite two untimely Lakes Area penalties.

But on fourth and fourth from the Shoremen's 26, Duluth cornerback Gavin Robinson stepped in front of an Eagle receiver for his second pick of McCloskey on the day.

"I was proud of the guys, we've been in every game but one," McCloskey added. "We've faced teams more physically gifted and more experienced, and we've been close because we are a good football team."

The first Lakes Area touchdown of the game will be on the team highlight film for the year.

Reminiscent of the famous Joe Montana to Dwight Clark touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in 1982, McCloskey and tight end Terrel Flanigan pulled an eerily similar play with 20 seconds left in the first half.

On fourth and four from the Duluth eight, McCloskey was flushed right out of the pocket as Flanigan was rolling with his QB in the back of the end zone.

With images of Montana floating a pass over a couple of Dallas defensive linemen, McCloskey lofted his pass off, while balancing on his right foot.

And much like Clark hauling in the pass at the back of the end zone, Flanigan made a stabbing catch and was still able to keep his feet in for an eventual 7-5 Screaming Eagles' lead.

"That play will be remembered for a long time by the team," McCloskey said. "Terrel has played all over the field all season and he's just a guy who likes playing football. He came up huge for us at tight end."

McCloskey -- who finished 6-21 for 137 yards, two picks and two TD's -- also credited John Lubitz and Mike Foerster for playing out of their usual positions due to the shortage of players.

"Both John and Mike had to play on the offensive line for the first time, and both did very well," McCloskey said.

The Screaming Eagles had a long day containing Duluth's bruising 5-11, 240-pound running back, Ozzy Williams, who finished with 117 yards on 20 carries.

Hollis Dukes had four receptions for 125 yards for the Shoremen, including a 53-yard haul-in during the first quarter from quarterback Kevin Gregory Jr., who finished 8-18 for 176 yards and three interceptions.

Anthony Carpenter had two of those picks for L.A., and Peterson the other.

"The Duluth coach complimented our team, saying we play tough and that we are young and up-and-coming," McCloskey said. "Because we are young, all of our players are anxious to prove to anyone that we are not a joke nor should be considered lightly."

The Screaming Eagles will hit the road for one last time Saturday, when they travel to South Metro for a rematch from the season opener against the Dragons.

The final two games will be at the Frazee High School football field, with West-leading Fargo-Moorhead coming to town for Turkey Days July 26, and against Willmar Aug. 2.

The Screaming Eagles still have a glimmer of hope to qualify for the playoffs. If they beat South Metro by more than three points and Willmar by more than four -- and if South Metro defeats Willmar next week -- the Aug. 2 game could be for a playoff bid for Lakes Area.

Screaming Eagles results

Lakes Area at Duluth, Saturday, July 12.

Shoremen 27, Screaming Eagles 21

Lakes Area - 0 7 0 14 -- 21

Duluth - 0 5 7 15 -- 27

Dul - Ryan Rodriguez 26-yard field. 14:03, 2nd quarter.

Dul - Safety by Nathaniel Coward and Chris Jurek. 5:55, 2nd.

LA - Terrel Flanigan 8-yard pass from Jason McCloskey; Mike Christensen kick. :20, 2nd.

Dul - Kevin Gregory Jr. 1-yard run; Rodriguez kick. 14:20, 3rd.

LA - Dave Moll 25-yard run; Christensen kick. 14:20, 4th.

Dul - Hollis Dukes 39-yard pass from Gregory Jr.; Ozzy Williams run. 13:57, 4th.

Dul - David Corbitt 9-yard run; Rodriguez kick. 7:41, 4th.

LA - Christensen 62-yard pass from McCloskey; Christensen kick. 2:18, 4th.

LA Dul

First Downs 10 14

By Rushing 8 10

By passing 2 4

By penalty 0 0

Net Yards Rushing 140 124

No. rushes 33 38

Yards gained 167 186

Yards lost 27 62

Net Yards Passing 137 176

No. passes 21 18

Completed 6 8

Incomplete 13 7

Had intercepted 2 3

Interception yards 75 35

Total Offensive Plays 57 59


Kickoffs 5 5

Yards 133 214

Ave. kickoff 26.6 42.8

Kickoffs Returned 5 4

Yards 105 103

Ave. return 21 25.8

Fumbles 0 1

Fumbles lost 0 0

Penalties 5 4

Yards 35 35

* * *

Individual Rushing

Lakes Area --

Player NR YG YL Net

Dave Moll 17 122 5 117

Kyler Wegner 11 28 4 24

Jason McCloskey 5 17 18 (-1)

Duluth -

Ozzy Williams 20 123 6 117

Kevin Gregory Jr. 7 35 4 31

David Corbitt 9 27 7 20

Tisconi Minton 1 1 0 1

Hollis Dukes 1 0 45 (-45)

* * *

Individual Passing

Player No Comp Inc Int Yds TD

Lakes Area --

McCloskey21 6 13 2 137 2

Duluth -

Gregory Jr.18 8 7 3 176 1

* * *

Pass Receiving

Player No. Yds. TD

Lakes Area --

Mike Christensen 2 82 1

Moll 1 42 0

Terrel Flanigan 1 8 1

TJ?Ash 1 4 0

Wegner 1 1 0

Duluth -

Dukes 4 125 0

Kevin Holm 1 16 0

Randall Howell 1 10 0

* * *


Player No. Yds. Ave.

Lakes Area --

Christensen 5 133 26.6

Duluth -

Ryan Rodriguez 5 214 42.8

* * *

Kickoffs Returned

Player No. Yds. Ave.

Lakes Area --

Anthony Carpenter 4 98 24.5

Rob Peterson 1 7 7

Duluth -

Dukes 3 93 31

Holm 1 10 10

* * *

Pass Interceptions

Player No. Yds.

Lakes Area -

Carpenter 2 27

Peterson 1 48

Duluth -

Gavin Robinson 2 35

* * *


Player No. Yds. lost

Lakes Area -


Duluth -

Nate Coward .5 10

Chris Jurek .5 10.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.