The Lakers weren't going to let a frustrating week-one loss at Fergus Falls spoil the home-opener. On Friday, the Detroit Lakes football team came out with something to prove in its 27-7 win over East Grand Forks.
"We had to come back at practice and work really hard to get this win," senior running back and defensive back Christian Solberg said. "Fergus outworked us, and we knew this week we had to work as hard as we could. Our effort had to be at 100% to push through and get a win."
Solberg was a man on a mission in the second half on Friday. With Detroit Lakes already leading 8-0, he punched in his first score of the game on the Lakers' first drive of the half to go up 14-0.
TOUCHDOWN: Christian Solberg punches in the opening drive of the second half from five yards out. Swiers connected with Chuck Kalina through the air for a huge gain on third down. PAT no good. DL leads 14-0 with 9:31 left in the third pic.twitter.com/Knf3EziRGj— Jared Rubado (@DLtribSports) September 11, 2021
With 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Solberg got behind the big guys up front for a one-yard touchdown run to take a 20-0 lead. It was a picture-perfect way for the senior to kick off his final season at home.
TOUCHDOWN: Solberg punches in his second touchdown of the third quarter from a yard out. Fake extra point no good. Lakers lead 20-0 with 10 seconds remaining before the fourth quarter. pic.twitter.com/C1oQ7mj6AB— Jared Rubado (@DLtribSports) September 11, 2021
"It feels really good, but it wasn't me," Solberg said. "It was all my blockers and those guys on the line that should get the credit. And the quarterbacks, too. I love them."
East Grand Forks would cut the lead to 13 midway through the fourth quarter when Tanner Campos connected with Cooper Smith on a 46-yard touchdown pass. It was the only major blunder the Detroit Lakes defense allowed in 48 minutes.
The Lakers would follow up the Green Wave's only scoring drive with an insurance touchdown of their own. Needing three yards to move the chains on fourth down from the EGF 13-yard-line, Solberg caught a short pass from senior quarterback Bradly Swiers and took it to the house. Solberg's dive for the pylon secured his third touchdown of the game and the first Detroit Lakes win of the season.
TOUCHDOWN: Solberg for a third time. He scored his third touchdown of the second half on an incredible effort from 13-yards out. Swiers with the TD pass. This was on fourth down. Lakers lead 27-7 after the PAT. 4:01 left. pic.twitter.com/9F50Akl1tM— Jared Rubado (@DLtribSports) September 11, 2021
"When you can see a kid battling like he did tonight, it can boost the morale of the whole team," Detroit Lakes head coach Reed Hefta said. "We have little kids in the stands that are going to say 'Christian Solberg had three touchdowns. That's who I want to be.' That's something that kids see, and he's a great model for Laker success."
Detroit Lakes got on the board midway through the first quarter when Swiers broke off a 44-yard touchdown run. Solberg converted the two-point attempt to take an early 8-0 lead, which was all the Laker defense needed.
Detroit Lakes' defensive unit was solid in week one against Fergus Falls. This week, they were near perfect. The Lakers got a red jersey and a white helmet to the football near the line of scrimmage on several plays on each EGF drive.
"It's super fun to see a bunch of kids working together as one unit because that's when a defense is successful," Hefta said. "When they bond together and play their gaps, they can play 11 as one. That's something we try to talk about as much as possible. We want 11 people pulling in the same direction. Regardless of field position, we can find success in that."
Solberg, who plays on both sides of the ball, was excited to see the hard work pay off.
"It's a great time," Solberg said of playing defense. We have some new guys on there, so we're really working on getting better as a team and doing our jobs. It was a lot of fun to be on that side of the ball in a game like this."
Detroit Lakes forced three turnovers, including an interception from Tyson Ullyott with under a minute remaining before halftime. Campos had thrown in the vicinity of Ullyott three times in the Green Waves' two-minute drill. After the first two were completed for first downs, Ullyott adjusted and stepped through the route for a pick-six. The touchdown was called back for a penalty on the return.
"That's a kid that's worked so hard to be in that spot," Hefta said of Ullyott. "He's a model of effort for everything he does. He's such a smart, strong kid, and he puts his nose to the grindstone. Unfortunately, he didn't get a pick-six on that. But that's part of those little things we talked about cleaning up."
"In the first half, we still had a lot of things we needed to improve on," Hefta said. "We kept it rolling, and the boys played so fantastic. That's what makes this job worth it is to see that your work with these kids comes through."
Despite forcing three turnovers, the Lakers fumbled four times and lost three of them. EGF also blocked a punt to set up its only scoring drive of the game.
Two turnovers came on back-to-back offensive plays inside the Detroit Lakes 25-yard line. Sophomore Mason Carrier, who left last week's game with an injury and was held to limited snaps on Friday, scrambled to recover two bad snaps. Despite EGF recoveries, the Green Wave turned the ball over on downs and missed a field goal following the turnovers.
"That's just us needing to work on our discipline," Hefta said. "We need to be as disciplined as humanly possible in football. Whether it's the exchange of the ball or other little things, we need to be better. Coach (Flint) Motschenbacher stopped by this week and talked about being snappy. When a hall of fame football coach tells you something, you listen."
Minutes after the final whistle, Hefta was doused in a celebratory Gatorade shower. It's what he hopes is the first of many wins in his head coaching career.
"It's one of those things that sticks out to you for why you do this job," Hefta said. "You want to win, but at the end of the day, you want to make an impact in kids' lives. Today was pretty humbling to see the fans, the crowd and the kids. Everybody kind of bonded together to push forward."
EAST GRAND FORKS 0 0 0 7 - 7
DETROIT LAKES 8 0 12 7 - 27
SCORING- FIRST QUARTER- DETROIT LAKES- Brady Swiers 44-yard TD run, Solberg two-point conversion good, 6:13; THIRD QUARTER- DETROIT LAKESSolberg 5-yard TD run, two-point conversion no good, 2:29; DETROIT LAKES- Solberg 1-yard TD run, two point conversion no good, 11:50; FOURTH QUARTER- EAST GRAND FORKS- Tanner Campos 46-yard TD pass to Cooper Smith, PAT good, 3:52; DETROIT LAKES- Swiers 13-yard TD pass to Solberg, Evan Thomas PAT good, 7:59