A first half state-ranked shootout between Detroit Lakes and Perham turned into a slugfest for yardage and one second half score that propelled the Lakers to a 36-30 victory over the Yellowjackets in the home opener at Mollberg Field Friday, September 7.
The teams combined for 58 points in the first half before halftime adjustments made the end zone rarified territory as the game waned for the traveling paddle trophy.
“We came out strong, had a good attitude, changed up a few things, and got the paddle,” DL senior Brady Morris said.
The Lakers shutout Perham in the second half after the Yellowjackets scored in the opening minute and the final minute of the first half to bookend a 30-28 lead at the halftime horn. The teams scored 37 combined points before a punt was attempted.
Morris returned the second half kick to the midfield stripe but the Laker offense went nowhere. Punter Reed Mace kicked out of bounds at the Jacket 6, but Perham moved right down the field.
Two runs and five completions by Jenson Beachy, including a 40-yard pickup by Zack Peterson had the Jackets in business at the Laker 11.
DL senior free safety Reed Reller got in front of a Beachy to Ty Moser first down pass intercepting in the end zone five minutes into the third quarter for a big shift in momentum.
“We had to make a lot of changes on D and our coaches really stepped it up,” said Reller. “They knew what to fix, change some secondary forms and try to stop the passing game and I think it worked pretty well in the second half.”
The Lakers took the ball at their own 37 in the final minute of a scoreless third quarter and Omang called Gunderson’s number on a quarterback keeper that went for 44 yards. Two plays later, Gunderson ran it again and scored from the 15-yard line.
“We didn’t want to have to use it for a long time, but we had to use it,” Omang said of the play call.
A two-point conversion pass to senior Jake Bettcher gave DL a 36-30 lead with 11-minutes, 15-seconds left to play.
Perham gained the Laker red zone on their ensuing drive facing fourth-and-six at the 17. Beachy found Peterson open in the end zone but the ball whizzed through Peterson’s hands incomplete.
Perham forced a three-and-out from DL and took over on the Laker 30 after a Mace punt.
Two plays later at the six-minute mark a Beachy pass was tipped by Morris into the waiting hands of teammate Noah Steffl and the Lakers had the ball back on their own 40 with a chance to take time off the clock.
Three runs and a motion flag had Mace at his own 30 needing to make a big punt with 3:53 left in the game. He did so kicking a ball that bounded down to the Perham 20.
Beachy scrambled and passed his way downfield throwing to Peterson, Josh Jeziorski and Finn Diggins to a first down at the Laker 27 approaching the final minute.
A holding flag on an incomplete pass backed Perham to the 40, but Perham got 17 back on a seven-yard scramble by Colton Hackel on a busted halfback pass and a 10-yard connection to Jeziorski.
Facing fourth-and-six and the DL 24-yard line, Beachy scrambled for the marker but was stopped a yard shy to send the Lakers out in victory formation.
“Nobody wants to have the game end like it did,” Perham head coach Kyle Knutson said. “I thought our kids did things very well and Jenson is a poised kid out there. We had some breaks not go our way and we made some penalties and mistakes that we have to clean up. Detroit Lakes is solid. They’re well-coached and it’s always a great battle when we play them. I just wish our kids could have come out on the other end.”
Adjusting to the Perham attack was the biggest key for Detroit Lakes late in the game. Both teams made successful defensive changes at the break.
“Our D guys are good,” said Omang. “Boy, they (Perham) can throw it, especially with all those weird looks they’re giving ya.”
The Jackets emptied the backfield and spread the line of scrimmage out utilizing the flats to move the ball and set up strikes down the middle. It worked well in the first half.
“We knew it was going to be hard, we practiced it,” said Omang. “You know how it is, high stress. That’s why I talk about that mental stuff. It’s literally being able to do it in high stress and there were a lot of times when we could have quit, some guys getting hurt, some things going wrong, personnel stuff and penalties, which is not who we are. We battled through all that and I’m certainly proud of these guys. We have to believe and we did.”Scoring comes in first half bunches
Beachy and Peterson dolled out an early taste of doubt when Perham scored on their third play from scrimmage with a 71-yard screen pass in the opening minute and converted the point-after for an 8-0 lead.
DL also scored on their third play of the game when Gunderson found Reller from 38-yards out. Reller caught the ball at the five and managed to shake off a sticky defensive effort by Perham’s Noah Rooney to keep possession and get into the end zone. Braeden Wimmer made his kick, 8-7 Jackets 1:55 into the game.
Perham fumbled on their next play into the hands of Reller for back-to-back huge plays.
“I’m just trying to do my job for the team,” Reller said.
DL capitalized on the turnover moving 40 yards on nine plays, the longest a 13-yard Gunderson to Gabe Hanninen pass, to get Isaiah Thompson into the end zone from the two for a 14-8 lead after Wimmer’s kick at 6:07.
The Jackets took the lead right back on a 16-play, 75-yard drive to open the second quarter with a second Beachy to Peterson connection, this time from the 10. Beachy hit Moser for the deuce and Perham was back in front 16-14 11:21 from halftime. The lead lasted 91 seconds.
Thompson busted a second down run for 37 yards to get into Jacket territory at the 26. Gunderson threw to Mace in the flat and Mace would not be denied before picking up 19 hard-running yards to get to the five. He was rewarded with the next handoff and scored. Wimmer made it 21-16 Lakers at 9:50.
Penalties negated Perham’s ability to move the ball next drive and a Sully Wood 29-yard punt return set the Lakers up inside the Perham 40. On third-and-14, Gunderson found Mace for a 35-yard touchdown reception. Wimmer was good again for a 28-16 DL lead with 7:11 until halftime.
In three minutes, Perham's Colton Hackel completed a fourth down halfback pass for 30 yards to Josh Jeziorski in the end zone. Perham’s PAT run failed; DL led 28-22 at 4:44.
Gunderson fumbled the ball back to Perham less than a minute later, but the Jackets could not capitalize.
DL punted back and Beachy went into the two-minute drill converting a fourth-and-14 at the DL 24-yard line on a pass to Rooney, followed up by an eight-yard strike to Moser to tie the game 28-all with 50-seconds left in the half. Beachy found Hackel for the two-point lead at the break.
“We told them it’s a battle of two really good football teams and we battled to the end,” Knutson said. “We just didn’t come out on top. They don’t have anything to hang their heads about.”
Taking back the paddle gives DL two big retribution wins to start the season avenging losses from last season.
“It’s a big win,” said Morris. “It feels so good.”
Morris’ senior class and an impressive group of underclassmen take to the road next week for a third installment of retribution at 0-2 Fergus Falls.
“We only have 14 seniors but those guys want to be good,” said Omang. “They laid it out there for us tonight.”
Perham had 556 total yards from scrimmage, 486 passing. Beachy was 36-59 for 456 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 40 yards.
Peterson caught 11 balls for 215 yards and two scores.
Moser also had 11 catches for 97 yards and one touchdown.
Both players set a new school record for catches in a game. Peterson’s 215 yards breaks Moser’s record from last season (178).
Perham broke four team records: most passess attempted 60, most completions 37, yards 486, and offensive plays 88. Beachy set new marks in attempts 59, completions 36, and yards 456.
DL put up 333 total yards on 44 plays, 198 yards on the ground 135 in the air.
Gunderson was 8-12 for 135 yards and two scores, rushed for 72 yards and a TD.
Thompson rushed 25 times for 109 yards and a touchdown.
There were 25 penalties in the game Perham 13-111, DL 12-78. Each team fumbled the ball away once. DL won the turnover battle 3-1 with two interceptions.
The Yellowjackets (1-1) host Pequot Lakes in week three. The Patriots defeated Fergus Falls at home 27-14 to move to 2-0.
PER 8 22 0 0 - 30
DL 14 14 0 8 - 36
P - Zack Peterson 71 pass from Jenson Beachy (Peterson run)
D - Reed Reller 38 pass from Max Gunderson (Braeden Wimmer kick)
D - Isaiah Thompson 2 run (Wimmer kick)
P - Peterson 10 pass from Beachy (Moser from Beachy)
D - Reed Mace 5 run (Wimmer kick)
D - Mace 35 pass from Gunderson (Wimmer kick)
P - Josh Jeziorski 30 pass from Colton Hackel (run failed)
P - Ty Moser 8 pass from Beachy (Hackel from Beachy)
D - Gunderson 15 run (Jacob Bettcher from Gunderson)