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Football: Detroit Lakes falls in more ways than one as Pequot Lakes gets homecoming revenge

The Detroit Lakes football team different its first loss of the season. Pequot Lakes avenged its road loss from a year ago with a 35-21 win on homecoming night. The Lakers' first and second string quarterbacks left the game in the third quarter with lower-body injuries. Read the full story from Friday night here:

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Detroit Lakes Will Martin pressures the quarterback in the Lakers' 35-21 loss against Pequot Lakes on Sept. 30, 2022 at Pequot Lakes High School.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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PEQUOT LAKES – Homecoming is a memorable time for students and communities every fall.

On Oct. 1, 2021, the Detroit Lakes football team pounded Pequot Lakes to the tune of a 32-6 homecoming win. One year later, the Patriots got some retribution,

Pequot Lakes (3-1) capped off their celebratory week with a 35-21 victory over the Lakers (4-1). It was not only the first time a team had beaten Detroit Lakes this fall, but also the first time an offense had put up more than a touchdown on its first-team defense.

“They’re an explosive team,” Detroit Lakes head coach Reed Hefta said of the Patriots. “They’re a team that does a lot of really good things. They got the ball to places where we didn’t have guys. We need to do a better job as a coaching staff and as players in knowing those assignments and those alignments…We need to do a better job of making sure we’re sound in our pass coverage. That’s obviously a glaring hole, and I will take 100% of the blame for that. As a coach, I need to do a better job, and I know our kids are going to come out and respond to this.”

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Detroit Lakes' Ethan Carrier breaks a tackle in the Lakers' 35-21 loss against Pequot Lakes on Sept. 30, 2022 at Pequot Lakes High School.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Pequot Lakes’ first drive started on its one-yard line after a botched kick return. The Patriots drove deep into Detroit Lakes territory before Grant Loge’s pass was tipped into the hands of Detroit Lakes’ Grady Kirchner. It was the first of two first-half turnovers for the Lakers.

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Facing a fourth-and-long situation on their first offensive drive of the game, the Lakers elected to run a direct snap to Breck Winter, who came up a yard short.

“We wanted that offensive opportunity,” Hefta said of the fake punt. “We wanted to give our guys a chance to make a play. Sometimes you try to light a spark, and it doesn’t happen.”

Pequot Lakes turned the short field into a touchdown when John Paul Elsenpeter broke the scoreless tie on a goal-to-go run with 2:01 left in the first quarter.

Detroit Lakes needed only 16 seconds to respond. Ethan Carrier housed a kick return for a touchdown. Nick Buboltz’s extra point tied the game.

On their ensuing possession, the Patriots drove the ball into the red zone before Loge was picked off again. This time it was Cody Bartnes. However, on the next play, Mason Carrier fumbled at the Lakers’ 25-yard line. Darby Boelter broke off a touchdown run for Pequot Lakes on the next play to take a 14-7 lead.

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Detroit Lakes' Cade Jackson looks to the sidleine for a play in the Lakers' 35-21 loss against Pequot Lakes on Sept. 30, 2022 at Pequot Lakes High School.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“It was fun to be able to have those highlights. You always want to pull out the positive things when you can from a game like this,” Hefta said of Barnes’ interception. “Obviously, they got more than we did. We let little things happen to us. That’s what our demise was tonight. If you give opportunities to score, anybody can be in the game.”

On the Lakers’ next offensive play, Boelter was in the right place at the right time. Caden Strand’s pass bounced off Kirchner’s chest into Boelter’s lap for an 18-yard pick-six.

Needing a spark, the Lakers turned to Bartnes in the passing game. On an offense with a plethora of established weapons, Strand found Bartnes in stride for an effortless 30-yard touchdown throw-and-catch less than a minute after the Patriots took a two-score lead.

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“I’m proud as heck of Cody,” Hefta said. “He’s a kid that’s just been a battler. He’s played in some JV games this year. All of a sudden, he’s stepping up and doing some cool things at the varsity level. I couldn’t be more proud of that young man who works his tail off.”

Both teams scored before the end of the half on one-yard touchdown runs. After Riley Larson picked off Strand and returned the ball to the Lakers’ 19-yard line, Loge found the end zone on a quarterback keeper.

The Lakers got the touchdown back before the end of the first half. Mason Carrier capped off another long drive with a goal-line push to cut the deficit to 28-21 at the half.

There’s no telling what the rest of this season will look like, but the third quarter in Friday night’s game could potentially be a turning point in the worst-case scenario. Strand left the game with a lower-body injury after scrambling for a first down. He wasn’t able to put weight on his left leg and did not return.

Read more Laker sports coverage from the Detroit Lakes Tribune here:
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Mason Carrier left the game with a right leg injury on the Lakers’ next drive. While he spent most of the third and fourth quarters attempting to get back on the field, he also didn’t return.

“There were a lot of hungry eyes there on the sidelines. It’s unfortunate that it happens like that, but I’m excited to see us respond to this adversity,” Hefta said.”

On the drive before Mason Carrier exited the game, the Lakers faced a 4th-and-10 situation in the red zone. Instead of opting to kick the field goal, they took a shot to the end zone. Mason Carrier’s pass fell short, turning the ball over to the Patriots.

“Especially when they were putting together those big, long drives, we felt like we had to get a touchdown there,” Hefta said on the decision to go for it.

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Pequot Lakes regained its two-score lead on another one-yard punch from Loge.

By the end of the third quarter, Detroit Lakes had lined up five different players under center. Buboltz took the reins for a drive before senior Cade Jackson finished the last quarter and change at quarterback Ethan Carrier also took sporadic snaps as a wildcat quarterback throughout the game.

“You have to teach your kids to be ready to step up when their number is called, but nobody is ever ready for quarterbacks three, four or five,” Hefta said. “I’m proud of the way those kids stepped in there and were able to be leaders for their team. That’s always a good thing to see those kids go out there, step up and try to be successful for their team in situations like that. I’d rather us try and fail than be afraid to go out there and swing.”

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Detroit Lakes' Charlie Zok (47) discusses the defensive scheme in the Lakers' 35-21 loss against Pequot Lakes on Sept. 30, 2022 at Pequot Lakes High School.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The Lakers’ injury woes turned their offense from dynamic to one-dimensional. Pequot Lakes stacked the box, forcing inexperienced players to move the ball through the air. Hefta said they were limited much of the second half following the injuries to Strand and Mason Carrier.

“There are going to be times in your season where you’re going to have adversity,” Hefta said. “That time is right now, and we’re going to be better from it. There’s only one way to go from here, and that’s through this.”

The road doesn’t get any easier for Detroit Lakes. It will take on undefeated Barnesville (5-0) on homecoming night at Mollberg Field.

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Detroit Lakes Ethan Carrier runs toward the goal line in the Lakers' 35-21 loss against Pequot Lakes on Sept. 30, 2022 at Pequot Lakes High School.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“When we need to rebound, we need to lean on our leaders, and we have 25 great seniors that are going to help us at all levels,” Hefta said. “Whether it’s on offense, defense, special teams, scout team, in the classroom or out in our community, we need those people to be leaders for us.”

DETROIT LAKES 7 14 0 0 – 21

PEQUOT LAKES 7 21 7 0 – 35

SCORING- FIRST QUARTER- PL- John Paul Elsenpeter 9-yard TD run, PAT good, 7-0, 2:01; DL- Ethan Carrier kickoff return for a touchdown, Nick Bulboltz PAT good, 7-7, 1:45

SECOND QUARTER- PL- Darby Boelter 25-yard TD run, PAT good, 14-7, 8:37; PL- Boelter 18-yard interception return TD, PAT good, 21-7, 8:29, DL- Caden Strand 30-yard TD pass to Cody Bartnes, Buboltz PAT good, 21-14, 7:48; PL- Grant Loge 1-yard TD run, PAT good, 28-14, 4:10; DL- Mason Carrier 1-yard TD run, Buboltz, PAT good, 28-21, 1:06

THIRD QUARTER- PL- Loge 1-yard TD run, PAT good, 35-21, 0:31

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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