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Detroit Lakes football looks to rebound in conference vs. Duluth Central

With the first North Country Conference game not going according to plan, the Detroit Lakes football team has shot No. 2 Friday when they host winless Duluth Central for a 7 p.m. start.

The Trojans are making their grand finale through the conference -- as Duluth Central school is closing after the year -- which is the main reason the North Country Conference is folding, as well.

Meanwhile, the Lakers will be looking to rebound from a double-overtime loss in Grand Rapids last Friday by the score of 35-34, dropping DL to 1-2 on the season.

The Thunderhawks rallied back from a 21-0 deficit with a 21-point third quarter, in a game which featured 26 total penalties on both squads and four Laker turnovers.

With more than several of the flags on the questionable side, it was a big impediment for the movement of the Laker offense in the second half.

DL was called for 15 penalties for 110 yards, while Grand Rapids had 11 for 85.

"After watching the game tape, I saw only about 10 penalties, that's all I will say about that," said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher. "This may sound funny, too, but we really had only five or six bad plays on defense and our offense had to fight those penalties at the end of the game."

The Laker defense did an admirable job of holding the Thunderhawks to 247 total yards. But field position for Grand Rapids in the third quarter led to the furious comeback.

Two back-to-back turnovers by DL gave Grand Rapids favorable starting position of at their own 40 and at the Laker 19.

Both resulted in touchdowns, as the game eventually went into double overtime.

Motschenbacher decided to go for the two-point conversion in the double overtime and ultimately the win, but quarterback Joe Mollberg's pass was deflected by the Grand Rapids' defender.

"We did what we had to do, our defense was just too beat up at that point and we went for the win," Motschenbacher added about the two-point conversion try.

One of the points of emphasis this week against Duluth Central is eliminating the small mistakes -- as well as turnovers.

The Lakers have a turnover ratio of plus-one, with DL having three interceptions and five lost fumbles.

DL's defense has been very opportunistic, with the latest being a Connor McLeod 43-yard interception return for a touchdown Friday.

Thus far, the Lakers have accumulated seven interceptions and 211 return yardage.

"The defense has played well all year, but they are still a work in progress and it will take time," Motschenbacher said. "I don't think the kids are down and they know it's important to do things right."

Sophomore running back was the latest rusher to lead the team in that department, as he finished with 85 yards, two touchdowns, while accumulating a total of 193 yards on the season (4.6 yard per rush average).

"I'm pleased with how Alex is coming along rushing the football," the DL coach added. "He's been a good, physical runner for us. Now, we are looking for another back to step up with him."

The Lakers are currently fourth in the conference standings and sixth in the Section 8-4A rankings.

North Country standings

Duluth East 1-0 (1-2)

Grand Rapids 1-1 (1-2)

Duluth Denfeld 0-0 (1-2)

Detroit Lakes 0-1 (1-2)

Duluth Central 0-0 (0-3)

Section 8-4A standings

Sartell 2-0 (3-0)

Sauk Rapids 3-0 (3-0)

Little Falls 1-1 (2-1)

Alexandria 1-1 (2-1)

Rocori 1-2 (1-2)

Detroit Lakes 0-0 (1-2)

St. Cloud Apollo 0-3 (0-3)

Fergus Falls 0-1 (0-3).