Lakers blank Otters with special teams, solid defense
Detroit Lakes scored once in each quarter and held Fergus Falls off the scoreboard to record the Lakers’ second shutout in three games 24-0 at Mollberg Field Friday, Oct. 23.
Despite the snowfall earlier in the week, the field grass was in excellent condition and the Lakers took advantage after forcing a quick three-and-out from the Otters to start the game.
Jake Green rushed off the right end 44 yards to the Fergus 21-yard line. After three Christian Solberg runs, head coach Josh Omang sent kicker Braeden Wimmer and the special teams unit out for a successful 32-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead early.
Wimmer’s kick was the first of a few big plays in the first half from the Laker kicker.
His ensuing kickoff rolled and died perfectly on the five at the sideline forcing a slow return from Fergus and burying the Otters at their own 11-yard line.
“We’ve invested a lot of time into our special teams,” said Omang. “Coach Zamzo does a hell of a job with those guys.”
Fergus was able to move past midfield but the drive stalled on an incomplete, fourth-down pass at the Laker 40.
The Lakers took advantage with Green rushing five straight times to finish off the first quarter at the Otter 31. A Matthew Tobkin pass to James Taylor for a first down set up a 20-yard Christian Solberg run off left tackle for the touchdown and a 9-0 lead after an unsuccessful conversion pass.
Wimmer and the DL kickoff team had a surprise for Fergus Falls running an onside kick straight up the middle of the field. Wimmer was first to the ball meeting the Otters’ Sam Sorum in a collision at the 50 that sent the ball into a pile of players. DL’s Joe Heinlein got to the bottom of the scrum and came up with the ball.
The Lakers took the special team’s momentum and knocked on the door of the Otter red zone but stalled on downs at the 23 when Solberg was stopped short on fourth-and-three.
Fergus Falls had the better opportunities to score as the half wound down getting field position off a pair of interceptions but Otter receivers were unable to pull in accurate passes from quarterback Andrew Johnson on big plays to keep a goose egg on the visitor’s side of the scoreboard.
The Lakers received the second half kick and got a great return from Solberg to the 46-yard line. DL marched 54 yards on seven plays ending in a Heinlein two-yard run and Tobkin conversion pass to Caeden Yliniemi to go up three scores 17-0 at the 7:40 mark of the third quarter.
Fergus tried to respond, reaching the Laker 15-yard line by way of a first down and a personal foul penalty on the Lakers but Garett Nelson picked off Johnson to stop the drive. The interception was Nelson’s second in as many games.
The Lakers were forced to punt on the ensuing drive but Fergus gave the ball right back when the pigskin hit an Otter in the knee and Laker long snapper Connor Zamzo recovered on the Fergus Falls 46-yard line.
Tobkin hit Ty Jones for 11 yards to the 35. Green and Heinlein rushes set up third-and-five at the Fergus 30-yard line.
Tobkin corralled a high snap and found Jacob Kalina open at the 17. Kalina scored untouched down the home sideline and Wimmer put the finishing touches on the win with the extra point kick.
Omang praised his team’s defensive effort in the postgame and noted the offense was still a work in progress.
“We made more mistakes than we have in the past,” he said. “Physically, I thought we were better, but assignment-wise we were not better, so that’s something to address and work on.”
Green did much of the work for the DL offense rushing 18 times for 128 yards. Tobkin was 5-10 passing for 80 yards and a touchdown. He was picked off three times, one being a hail mary at the end of the first half.
Fergus Falls drops to 1-2 overall. Detroit Lakes improves to 3-0 and travels to Perham next Friday, Oct. 30. The Lakers have outscored their opponents 100-7 the first three games. Perham (1-2) has lost two straight after a 21-14 loss at Pequot Lakes (2-1) Friday night.
Detroit Lakes 24, Fergus Falls 0.
DL 3 6 8 7 - 24
FF 0 0 0 0 - 0
DL - Braeden Wimmer 32 yd field goal
DL - Christian Solberg 20 run (pass failed)
DL - Joe Heinlein 2 run (Caeden Yliniemi pass from Matthew Tobkin)
DL - Jacob Kalina 30 pass from Tobkin (Wimmer kick)