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Herzog and Lakers ground-pound Panthers to stay undefeated

Detroit Lakes quarterback Michael Herzog (9) puts a stiff arm on two Park Rapids defenders at the end of a long run during the first half of Friday night's homecoming game at Mollberg Field. An extra 15 yards was tacked on the end of the run on Cory Gartner's facemask penalty. Brian Basham/DL Newspapers1 / 4
Laker running back Jarrot Nosal dives for the Park Rapids end zone during the second quarter of Friday night's football game.2 / 4
Laker defenders Stephen Erb (7) and Nick Groth (15) put a big hit on Park Rapids' David Dirks during the first half of Friday's game. The Lakers beat the Panthers 40-22. Brian Basham/DL Newspapers3 / 4
The snow flies as Laker senior Stephen Erb (7) leaves teammates and defenders behind as he returns a kick to near midfield during the second quarter Friday night. Brian Basham/DL Newspapers4 / 4

DETROIT LAKES - The best path chosen was on the ground for the Class 4A No. 5 ranked Detroit Lakes football team in their Heart O'Lakes Conference and Homecoming tilt against visiting Park Rapids Friday.

With weather conditions less than stellar for an explosion of big plays, the Lakers (6-0) instead ate up turf, mostly on the legs of junior quarterback Michael Herzog, who rushed for a career-high 225 yards on 31 carries in DL's 40-22 win over the Panthers.

There was plenty of movement on Mollberg Field, though, especially in the second quarter, where both teams combined for a total of 40 points, 26 of them on the Lakers' side.

DL accumulated a total of 408 offensive yards, while the Panthers found some success against the stingy Laker defense for 367 yards, including multiple touchdowns, something which has not happened yet this season.

Herzog was the main cylinder in DL's pound-the-ground approach, as the snow and wind were factors during the four quarters of play.

The quarterback capped three long drives with rushing touchdowns, while tossing another one to senior wideout Kirk McLeod with 15.7 seconds left in the first half.

The Lakers started their rushing attack early, with a 10-play, 62-yard drive, with all their plays rushes by either Herzog or Nosal, with the former rushing eight times in the drive for 47 yards.

But a fumble by Herzog while he was diving in from the Park Rapids' two, ended the drive prematurely.

After a Panther punt from their own 17, Herzog made amends by making quick work with a four-play, 38-yard drive, capped on a 17-yard touchdown run.

The second quarter was as busy for the Lakers as any one this season, as they reached the end zone four different times.

But the Panthers also struck twice, including a 69-yard TD scamper by running back Ian Johnson out of the wing-formation, dive play to pull his team to within 21-7.

The uncharacteristic long play given up by the Lakers wouldn't be all they would give up, but they would still be able to contain the potent Park Rapids' offense to just one more score, until late in the fourth quarter.

By then, the Laker offense kept rumbling down the field, including a six-yard TD run by Herzog to start the second quarter, followed by a nine-play, 66-yard series, which was capped on a Jarret Nosal 34-yard score to put DL up 21-0.

But the Lakers responded right back to Johnson's 69-yard gallop -- the longest play DL has given up this season -- with Homecoming King Stephen Erb kick return to the Panthers 45 and quickly converted into six points after an 11-yard Herzog run and a 34-yard end zone find for a commanding 27-7 advantage.

The two teams exchanged interceptions, the second one leading to a Park Rapids touchdown to pull to within 27-14.

But the Lakers once again answered with another nice Erb kickoff return to the P.R. 43 and ending with Herzog hitting McLeod down the seam for a nine-yard TD strike and a 33-14 halftime advantage.

The second half saw DL turn their attention to the clock, where they ran a total of 22 plays in the third quarter alone.

Although they didn't score in the quarter, the Panthers only had on drive of six plays and a punt.

Erb capped DL's scoring with the defense's third TD of the season, this one on a 35-yard interception return.

Nosal also helped keep the Panthers' offense honest with 92 yards on 16 carries, while Herzog threw for 75 yards by going 5-11 with two interceptions and a touchdown.

The Panthers by far had the most success against the stringent Laker defense, gathering 233 yards, with Johnson leading the way with 101 yards.

Tyler McCollum also passed for 134 yards, but was picked twice and threw two touchdown passes.

Christian Tigges went 4-5 on his PAT kicks for the Lakers, as well.

Ball possession in the cold conditions was key and the Lakers had an entire key chain full of first downs, 20 to be precise.

They had to punt only once, which came late in the game with the second-team offense in clock-kill mode.

It was a game which saw the awakening of a consistent physical Laker offense.

The win also sets up the huge Friday night showdown between two highly-ranked and undefeated HOL teams.

The Class 3A No. 2 ranked Perham slid past Thief River Falls Friday 20-19, which kept the Yellowjackets undefeated.

That now sets up the HOL North championship game this coming Friday in Perham, between two budding rivals, which will be gaining plenty of attention through the next coming weekdays.

Laker results

Park Rapids at Detroit Lakes, Friday, Oct. 5.

Panthers 0 14 0 8 - 22

Lakers 7 26 0 7 - 40

DL: Michael Herzog 17-yard run; Christian Tigges kick. 2:08, 1st quarter.

DL: Herzog 6-yard run; Tigges kick. 11:56, 2nd.

DL: Jarret Nosal 11-yard run; Tigges kick. 8:08, 2nd.

PR: Ian Johnson 69-yard run; Johnson kick. 7:53, 2nd.

DL: Herzog 34-yard run; kick blocked. 7:07, 2nd.

PR: Noah MacPherson 19-yard pass from Tyler McCollum. 1:26, 2nd.

DL: Kirk McLeod 9-yard pass from Herzog; pass incomplete. 15.7, 2nd.

DL: Stephen Erb 35-yard interception return. Tigges kick. 10:44, 4th.

PR: Derek Porozinski 8-yard pass from McCollum. Ben Baumgartner run. 40.8, 4th.

Rushing (att-yds-tds) -- DL: Michael Herzog 31-225-3; Jarret Nosal 16-92-1; Stephen Erb 1-10-0; Christian Hedstrom 2-10-0; Forrest Schleske 2-3-0; Jeff Gailfus 1-3-0. TOTALS: 53-333-4.

PR: Ian Johnson 13-101-1; Cory Gartner 6-37-0; Zach Eystad 5-29-0; Tyler McCollum 3-23-0; Jon Burlingame 2-17-0; Jordan McCollum 1-12-0; David Dirks 5-11-0; Ben Baumgartner 4-4-0; Josh Syvertson 2-(-1)-0. TOTALS: 41-233-1.

Passing (att-comp-inc-int-yds-tds) -- DL: Herzog 11-5-4-2-75-1...PR: T. McCollum 23-10-11-2-134-2.

Receiving (rec-yds-td) -- DL: Erb 2-39-0; Kirk McLeod 2-21-1; Derek Long 1-15-0...PR: Noah MacPherson 5-49-1; Kyle Goplerud 2-27-0; Ben Baumgartner 1-25-0; Johnson 1-22-0; Derek Porozinski 1-8-1.

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