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Lake Park-Audubon victorious in Mahnomen

Lake Park-Audubon's Mitch Knudsvig (7) and Steve Oak (52) wrap up a Fertile-Beltrami runner earlier this season. The Raiders' defense held Mahnomen to only one score Friday night.

MAHNOMEN-- Despite playing most of the game behind, the Mahnomen Indians still had a chance to at least tie the Lake Park-Audubon Raiders last Friday night.

A lack of a stop on a long fourth-down play midway through the fourth quarter, though, let Lake Park-Audubon take control and come out with a 28-6 win.

"Anytime you can get a victory against Mahnomen, that's a good day," said LP-A coach Jed Swegarden. "We just happened to make a few more plays than they did."

With the Raiders facing a fourth-and-seven on Mahnomen's 34 and the score at 14-6, they put the ball into the hands of their big playmaker of the night.

Junior running back Jon Nelson blasted through the left side for a 25-yard gain -- his biggest run of the game.

Nelson followed it up with a 6-yard touchdown run two plays later. He finished with 117 yards on 17 carries.

On Mahnomen's first play after the score, the nail was put into the coffin, as Bobby Lalonde gave the Raiders' defense their second touchdown of the night after intercepting Dylan Stevens' pass and taking it 28 yards for the score.

The Indians' lone score came late in the third quarter. Stevens tried to hand off the ball, but couldn't and ended up charging forward on a delayed draw for a 36-yard touchdown.

Mahnomen (3-3) stayed in the game, as LP-A (4-1) was unable to close it out. Several short fourth-down conversions failed as the plays went up the middle, where the Indians' defense stuffed the attack.

However, the Indians also failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities of their own.

A 70-yard touchdown run from Mahnomen back Mitch Kochmann that would have cut LP-A's lead to one point was called back as a result of a chop block.

"We didn't play well, but Lake Park had a lot to do with it," said Mahnomen coach John Clark Jr.

Mahnomen also was deep inside LP-A's 10 at the end of the first half when the offense ran out of time. The Indians were out of timeouts, but still ran three plays that failed to get them into the endzone.

"We had plays to get it in, and we missed one block on one play," Clark said. "And then we took a sack."

Turnovers also cost the Indians, as they lost three fumbles out of six and threw two interceptions.

"You're not going to win the game turning over the ball like we did, especially playing a good team like Lake Park," Clark said.

Lake Park-Audubon started out of the gate quickly, as Nelson recovered an Indians' offensive fumble on the first play from scrimmage and went 28 yards for the touchdown.

"We took advantage of the fumble recovery and the interception," Swegarden said.

"That can mean the difference in the game, and we'll take that."

The Raiders struck again several minutes later, as Brian Gordon hit Jesse Wixo for a 41-yard TD pass.

Though the final scoring margin was great, it wasn't that way in the stats, as Mahnomen led in rushing yards by a 209-168 margin and tallied 14 first downs, compared to the Raiders' 11.

Alex LaVoy and Stevens paced the running game with 72 yards and 70 yards, respectively.

Mahnomen also was effective on third downs, with an 8-for-12 success rate on conversions.

But the Indians played on their back feet for most of the game, as regular kicker Preston Zornes couldn't kick because of a hurt ankle.

In the snowy conditions, Mahnomen's backup kicker slipped two times on kick-offs, with LP-A gaining possession at midfield after halftime and after the Indians' touchdown.

Clark said that the Indians' passing also needed to improve, as Stevens completed only two of his nine attempts.

"We need to fix the passing game as soon as we can, because we're not a threat right now," Clark said.

The Raiders take on Red Lake County in the Fargodome on Thursday, with kickoff coming between 1:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m., or 15 minutes after the end of the 11 a.m. Frazee and Pine River-Backus game.

Mahnomen takes on Badger/Greenbush-Middle River in its final home game Thursday, with a 7 p.m. kickoff.