The No. 4 Willmar Cardinals broke open a scoreless tie with three second quarter touchdowns on the way to a 35-0 shutout of Detroit Lakes in the football season finale at Mollberg Field Friday, Nov. 20.

Neither team could move the ball in the opening 12 minutes, but the Cardinals got the important first score 90 seconds into the second quarter on an Alex Schramm pass to Eli Jorgenson, who sprinted 67 yards away from Laker defenders to the end zone. Kicker LaBlue Moo made the first of his five extra point kicks for the 7-0 lead.

In response, Detroit Lakes drove into Cardinal territory but turned the ball over on a third down pass by quarterback Matt Tobkin intended for Ty Jones. The pass was tipped by Jorgenson into the hands of his teammate Tyler Ludwig.

Willmar cashed in on the turnover on a quarterback draw by Schramm from 44 yards out for a 14-0 lead with four minutes remaining in the half.

Three DL offensive plays later, Laker head coach Josh Omang was forced to make a difficult decision after a nice open field tackle by Brandt Sunder kept Ethan Carrier a yard short of a first down on a third down run to the Laker 36-yard line.

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The Willmar Cardinals defense makes a big stand on fourth down to kill a Detroit Lakes offensive drive during the first half of the Section 8-4A playoff game. Robert Williams / Forum News Service
The Willmar Cardinals defense makes a big stand on fourth down to kill a Detroit Lakes offensive drive during the first half of the Section 8-4A playoff game. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

Out of a timeout, Tobkin lined up the offense trying to get Willmar to jump offside but the Cardinals didn’t take the bait. After a second timeout, Omang elected not to punt, running a fullback dive by Joe Heinlein. Ludwig stuffed the play turning the ball over on downs with 2:28 left in the half.

Willmar jumped all over the chance at putting up another touchdown late in the half.

Schramm moved his team inside the Laker 10 in four plays and scored on a 10-yard run untouched through the middle of the Laker defense for a 21-0 lead with 1:15 left on the clock.

Willmar quarterback rushes through a big hole up the middle on a 10-yard touchdown run to put the Cardinals up 20-0 in the second quarter of a Section 8-4 playoff victory over Detroit Lakes at Mollberg Field. Robert Williams / Forum News Service
Willmar quarterback rushes through a big hole up the middle on a 10-yard touchdown run to put the Cardinals up 20-0 in the second quarter of a Section 8-4 playoff victory over Detroit Lakes at Mollberg Field. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

The Lakers dodged a pair of bullets in the final minute.

Facing third and 10 at their own 35, Tobkin was picked off by Sunder at the Willmar 43. A penalty flag on the return was the only thing that saved a 57-yard pick six and a four-touchdown deficit heading to halftime.

DL escaped three more points on a 32-yard field goal attempt by Moo that missed short in the final seconds.

The Lakers best chances to score came just when they needed them, early in the third quarter.

A bad pitch from Schramm to Michael Price on the option hit the ground and DL linebacker Garret Nelson pounced on the loose ball to give DL a needed boost at the Cardinal 40-yard line.

Two runs by Christian Solberg moved the Lakers inside the 10-yard line.

Willmar defenders stiffened to force a fourth-and-goal from the one. A handoff to Ethan Carrier went nowhere but into the arms of Willmar linebacker Mattix Swanson, who slanted right into Carrier’s path to stuff the play at the two.

On the ensuing drive, Jake Green recovered a Schramm fumble at the Cardinals’ 34-yard line. Tobkin converted a fourth-and-one rolling out of the pocket and scrambling for the sticks to get to the red zone.

On third-and-10, Ludwig nabbed his second interception of the night, jumping a slant route in front of Jones to negate any momentum for DL while keeping the zero on the scoreboard.

Schramm moved his team the length of the field in less than two minutes culminating in a one-yard touchdown run by Price in the final minute of the third quarter.

Eli Jorgenson (5) sprints away from Detroit Lakes defenders Mason Carrier (46) and Bradly Swiers (2) on a 67-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring in the playoff victory over the Lakers. Robert Williams / Forum News Service
Eli Jorgenson (5) sprints away from Detroit Lakes defenders Mason Carrier (46) and Bradly Swiers (2) on a 67-yard touchdown reception to open the scoring in the playoff victory over the Lakers. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

The Willmar defense put the final nail in the Laker coffin and running time on the clock on a Tobkin pass caught by Jacob Kalina, who tried to pitch to Carrier, but the ball ended up in Sunder’s hands and he sprinted 30 yards down the sideline for the final touchdown.

Moo’s kick put the needed 35th point on the scoreboard for running time with 11:42 to play.

Schramm led all rushers with 167 yards on 19 carries and he was 6-10 throwing for 189 yards, 74 yards coming on two completions to Jorgenson.

Solberg led the Lakers with 113 yards on 12 attempts. Tobkin was 3-15 passing for 30 yards and three interceptions.

Willmar finishes the season at 6-2 overall. The Lakers end at 5-2.

In the other half of the bracket, No. 1 ROCORI blew out No. 2 Grand Rapids in Cold Spring 36-6.

The defending section and state 4A champion Spartans were awarded the 8-4A championship in the victory.

The shutout loss was Detroit Lakes' first since October of 2016, a 17-0 ROCORI victory in the section semifinals at Mollberg Field.

Willmar 35, Detroit Lakes 0

WIL 0 21 7 7 — 35

DL 0 0 0 0 — 0

W – Eli Jorgenson 67 pass from Alex Schramm (LaBlue Moo kick)

W – Schramm 44 run (Moo kick)

W – Schramm 10 run (Moo kick)

W – Michael Price 1 run (Moo kick)

W – Brandt Sunder 30 fumble return (Moo kick)