No. 5-4A Detroit Lakes trailed 6-0 at halftime but regrouped in the second half to come away with a hard fought 20-14 victory over No. 4-3A Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in Glyndon Friday, Oct. 4.
A Gabe Hanninen 65-yard interception return for a touchdown was the difference in the game.
Trailing 13-6 and facing fourth down and eight yards to go late in the third quarter, the Rebels’ quarterback Payton Doran threw the ball right to Hanninen who scored untouched to give the Lakers some breathing room up 20-6 after Braeden Wimmer’s point after kick.
“I caught it; took two steps and fumbled it in my arms and then secured it and I was going down the sideline and it was awesome,” Hanninen said. “That was huge. I just read the quarterback’s eyes and went, I guess.”
Doran was in a tough spot filling in for the Rebels’ starting quarterback Aiden Leach who was injured last week against Perham and will miss the rest of the season with a separated shoulder.
The Rebels used the ground game to eat up big chunks of time in the first half and were very effective keeping the potent Laker offense off the field.
“They ran that wedge play every single time,” said Hanninen. “We were on defense a long time and we needed to really suck it up. We just decided we were the better, more physical team, and that’s how it went.”
D-G-F took the opening kickoff and crossed midfield but Cade Sogge was stripped by Reed Mace to give the Lakers an early shot at cashing in on a turnover.
DL drove to the Rebel five-yard line but quarterback Max Gunderson was stopped a yard shy of the goal line to keep zeros on the scoreboard.
“We just had to take care of the ball and score,” Gunderson said. “We should have scored on our first drive, made some brain farts in there, but we made the most of our last four drives in the second half.”
Both defenses stiffened forcing punts but the Lakers had an edge in field position thanks to a 36-yard punt by Caden Yliniemi that buried the Rebels at their own four-yard line with nine minutes to play in the first half.
Doran and the Rebels engineered a 16-play, 96-yard drive to take the lead.
All but two of those plays went for five yards or less. Sogge had a 10-yard run to convert an early third-and-four. The big play came on a 43-yard pass from Doran to Carter Kohler to get into the red zone.
Sogge scored on a one-yard run with 9.7 seconds remaining in the half to give the home team a 6-0 lead and momentum heading into the break.
“We had to figure out what we were doing on defense, make sure everyone knew their jobs,” said Mace. “We kept the same mentality the whole game; we just had to execute.”
The deficit on the scoreboard was short-lived as Isaiah Thompson took a Gunderson handoff on the first play from scrimmage in the second half and sprinted 74 yards to the house.
The snap on the point after try was off and the game was tied 6-6 just 17-seconds into the third quarter.
DL defenders forced a quick punt and Gunderson got his team in business to score again.
The Lakers went to the spread and Gunderson completed three passes, one to Hanninen for five yards, a 45-yarder to Mace and a 20-yard touchdown connection to Mace for a 13-6 lead at the 5:21 mark.
“It feels great,” said Gunderson. “We, obviously, didn’t start out too strong. The leaders on our team just reminded everyone to stay calm on the sideline. We were only down six points; we can come back in the second half, which we did.”
Both teams traded punts from midfield before the Rebels started the drive to tie that ended up in the hands of Hanninen for DL’s 20-6 advantage.
Doran and the Rebels kept coming.
The Rebel junior drove his team 58 yards in six plays, including a pass identical to the Hanninen interception that went through Hanninen’s hands and was completed to tight end Carter Bohn for a 10-yard gain. From the Laker 22, Kohler threw the halfback pass to Justin Wang for a touchdown at the two-minute mark cutting DL’s lead to 20-14.
A D-G-F onsides kick attempt by Kohler was snuffed by Jackson Fields and Gunderson and Thompson ran out the game ending in victory formation.
“We need to handle adversity like champions,” said Hanninen. “D-G-F, they’re a very good, physical team and they fought us. We had to fight them. We were trading punches and it was fun to play in.”
Thompson rushed 16 times for 194 yards with a touchdown to continue his climb up the all-time career rushing ladder. His total of 340 carries for 3,578 yards brings him 355 yards away from Corey Brogren’s record of 3,933 yards.
Gunderson was 6-8 passing for 97 yards and one touchdown.
Mace made three catches for 82 yards and a score.
“We’ve been preparing for a game like this and we were hoping for a game like this,” Mace said. “We got what we came for and we’re glad we got the win.”
Total yards were 314 to 283 in favor of Detroit Lakes.
Sogge led the Rebels with 113 yards on 27 tough carries (4.19 ypa).
D-G-F lost for the first time this season falling to 5-1. Detroit Lakes takes a 6-0 mark to rivals Fergus Falls next Friday. The Otters (3-3) won 21-6 in Park Rapids Friday night.
DGF 0 6 0 8 - 14
DL 0 0 13 7 - 20
DGF - Cade Sogge 1 run (run failed)
DL - Isaiah Thompson 76 run (kick failed)
DL - Reed Mace 20 pass from Max Gunderson (Braeden Wimmer kick)
DL - Gabe Hanninen 65 interception return (Wimmer kick)
DGF - Justin Wang 22 pass from Carter Kohler (Payton Doran run)