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Indians clinch 3rd straight Class 1A state playoff berth

Mahnomen defenders Darin Geray (28) and Nick Otto (56) gang tackle a Red Lake County runner Thursday inside the Fargodome. Photo by - Brian Basham1 / 2
Mahnomen head coach John Clark Jr. has a laugh with an Indian player during the team's Section 8-1A section championship game Thursday. Photo by - Brian Basham2 / 2

Mahnomen senior quarterback Jacob Pavek rushed for three touchdowns and blocked a punt Thursday at Gate City Bank Field.

He did all that in the first half.

The No. 1-ranked Indians exploded for 33 points in the opening half en route to a 46-24 victory against Red Lake County, to earn the Minnesota Class 1A, Section 8 football championship at the Fargodome.

Mahnomen (11-0) earned its third consecutive section championship and will play Barnum (9-1) at noon on Nov. 10 at Duluth, in the state quarterfinals. The Indians have a 35-2 record over the past three seasons.

"A section championship for these kids is something to be very proud of," Mahnomen head coach John Clark Jr. said. "It gets taken for granted in Mahnomen sometimes, but each team is different with a different personality."

Mahnomen built a two-touchdown lead less than four minutes into the first quarter.

The Indians scored touchdowns on their fifth and sixth plays from scrimmage. Senior running back Bryce Penner scored on a 48-yard touchdown run that gave the Indians a 14-0 lead with 8 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

Pavek blocked a punt late in the opening quarter, giving Mahnomen the ball at the Red Lake County 20-yard line. Two plays later, junior Bob Bjorge scored on an 8-yard touchdown run to stake the Indians to a 20-lead with 3:01 to play in the quarter.

"I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage and made some nice reads and runs," Clark Jr. said. "Offensive line I thought was dominant early, and I think our defense did a great job of getting us the ball back."

Pavek rushed for 45 yards in the first half on 12 attempts, and the Indians had his backup in before halftime. Pavek scored a 3-yard touchdown run that gave Mahnomen a 33-0 lead with 2:50 remaining in the second quarter.

That was his last offensive play in the game.

"They have a lot of very aggressive kids and they are athletic and they want to come at you and hit," Red Lake County head coach Brian Remick said.

Mahnomen pushed its lead to 46-0 in the third quarter after senior defensive lineman Jacob Hedstrom scored touchdowns on two fumble returns.

Mahnomen was coming off a 27-7 victory against Warren-Alvarado-Oslo in the section semifinals.

The Indians pulled away late in that game after leading 15-7 at halftime. That is the Indians' closest margin of victory this season.

"I thought our kids were ready," Clark Jr. said. "We had a tough game last week, and I thought we did a great job of refocusing."

Mahnomen held the Red Lake County offense to 115 yards, with most of those coming in the fourth quarter.

The Rebels (6-5) scored the game's final 24 points.

"We're 6-5 and you're playing for a section championship," Remick said. "I think a lot of teams would trade for that."

RLC 0 0 8 16 - 24

M 20 13 13 0 - 46

M-J. Pavek 2 run (J. Pavek kick)

M-Penner 48 run (J. Pavek kick)

M-Bjorge 8 run (kick failed)

M-J. Pavek 2 run (kick failed)

M-J. Pavek 3 run (J. Pavek kick)

M-Hedstrom 38 fumble return (kick failed)

M-Hedstrom 11 fumble return (J. Pavek kick)

RLC-Schindler 9 pass from Casavan (Casavan run)

RLC-Casavan 1 run (Casavan run)

RLC-Schindler 1 run (Knott pass from Casavan)


RUSHING: RLC, Knott 8-20, Schindler 8-14, Magnell 7-4, Casavan 13-1. MHS, Penner 3-88, Bjorge 7-61, J. Pavek 12-45, Haugo 6-39, Krebsbach 6-27, Worms 1-0, T. Pavek 5-(minus-3), Team 1-(minus-2).

PASSING: RLC, Casavan 6-15-0 76 yards. MHS, J. Pavek 0-2-0 0.

RECEIVING: RLC, Hagl 4-56, Schindler 1-9, Knott 1-1.