Football: Lakers rally in second half to beat East Grand Forks
The Detroit Lakes football team overcame a touchdown deficit in the second half to move to 2-0 on the season. Mason Carrier was involved with three touchdowns while the defense forced three turnovers in the final 24 minutes.
EAST GRAND FORKS – Detroit Lakes was staring at an uphill battle less than two minutes into the second half on Friday against East Grand Forks.
The Lakers (2-0) trailed 7-0 and turned the ball over for the second time. That’s when senior Grady Kirchner stepped up.
The Green Wave (0-2) took a shot on first down from its 36-yard line. Drew Carpenter’s pass sailed into the hands of Kirchner, who returned the interception to the 10-yard line. Mason Carrier, who fumbled two plays earlier, scored his first of three touchdowns on first-and-goal in the Lakers’ 21-7 win.
“GK always has that big-play ability,” senior Tyson Ullyott said. “He can turn anything into a huge play. He’s a great guy to have in that safety spot when you’re a corner. He’s a guy that can play anywhere.”
Mason Carrier redeemed himself on the Lakers’ next defensive drive. He recovered a fumble on a bad pitch to set up shop at the EFG 36-yard line.
What ensued was a bizarre sequence of events. The Lakers had a false start infraction, sailed a snap 15-yards into the backfield and committed a block-in-the-back penalty–setting up a 2nd-and-44 down and distance to the sticks.
Mason Carrier found Chuck Kalina on back-to-back passing plays for 36-yards before connecting with Ullyott for a 22-yard touchdown pass to take a two-score lead late in the third quarter.
“We just have a lot with the wide receivers and quarterbacks,” Ullyott said. “That touchdown wasn’t supposed to go to me. I saw something, and Mason and I looked at each other. We gave each other the nod, and he threw it right over and got it to me.”
“Coach Vern (Schnathorst) and coach (Kelly) Kalina have done a really good job evaluating how and where we can be successful,” Detroit Lakes head coach Reed Hefta said. “It was fun to see it pay off there. I tell you what, as a defensive coach, I was very glad to see it happen.”
Penalties were an issue all night for Detroit Lakes.
“We’re going to see on film that we have our work cut out for us,” Hefta said on being more disciplined. “We need to be so gap-sound on defense. On offense, we need to know where and how we block while making those adjustments. All of those little things can’t have us making the same mistakes twice.”
Detroit Lakes got the ball back early in the fourth quarter and drove the ball deep into Green Wave Territory. EGF got its most significant stop of the night on 4th-and-6 with 7:30 left on the clock. However, after giving up a second-quarter touchdown, the Detroit Lakes defense stood tall, forcing a three-and-out.
After three-quarters of up-tempo football, the Lakers flexed their versatility in their final offensive drive of the game. Mason and Ethan Carrier chewed the clock down to 1:28, where Mason scored his third touchdown of the night.
Mason Carrier had his first up-and-down start from the quarterback position this season. Along with his third-quarter fumble, he underthrew one of his receivers on the Lakers’ first offensive possession. Yet, he finished the game with two rushing touchdowns, a passing touchdown and a fumble recovery.
“That’s a gritty kid, and it’s something that I hope this team will exemplify,” Hefta said of Mason Carrier. “We need to be able to respond when we have those tough moments. When we need a first down, how will you rise up to the challenge? All our kids across the board got socked in the mouth tonight. These guys are learning. At the end of the day, they’re taking green reps, and they need to learn how to respond to adversity.”
“He gets fired up real quick,” Ullyott said of Mason Carrier. “He’s not a cocky guy. He’s super humble, so when he gets fired up like that, it fires up everybody.”
In the final minutes, the Green Wave posed a minor threat before Ullyott pulled down his first interception of the season in the end zone. After trailing by a touchdown at halftime, the Lakers managed to pick up their first road win to stay unbeaten.
“As soon as I saw Charlie Zok and Will Martin hit the quarterback, I knew it was over,” Ullyott said. “Those two guys are dogs. They hit the quarterback, and I knew I was coming down with it.”
EGF’s lone score came with 1:54 left in the second quarter. They drove 64 yards in just over 10 minutes to punish the Detroit Lake defense. At halftime, Ullyott said they flipped a switch.
“We came into this game with confidence, and we maybe doubted them a little in the beginning,” Ullyott said of EGF. “They came out hard and strong and did good in the first half. We have big goals this year, and we have to get through a few teams to get there. This is one of those teams. We dug our heels in, and our front guys really stepped up.”
Hefta was impressed with how his defensive guys rose to the occasion when challenged, especially Ullyott.
“I couldn’t be more proud to see how he took today,” Hefta said of Ullyott. “You have conversations at the end of games, and we said we need to get him on the field more. It’s fun to see a kid that’s grown so much. I’ve known him since he was a fifth grader. To be able to learn through some tough times is what high school football is about.”
“We always say ‘bend, don’t break.’ Sometimes we get pretty bendy. I couldn’t be more proud of the effort that they had out there. At the end of the day, a win is a win. We’re not where we want to be yet because we have high expectations, but we’re getting there.”
The Lakers hit the road again next week for a battle against Thief River Falls (0-2). After an early-season wake-up call, Detroit Lakes aims to prepare for every team’s best shot as one of the top teams in the Midwest Red District.
“You have high expectations of what your game should be,” Hefta said. “Last week, we were able to fire on all cylinders for a lot of that game. Tonight, we weren’t our best a lot of the time. That’s going to dig you a hole. When we get in those situations, we should only worry about the people in our jerseys. There were times where we could’ve seen a lot of quit from the kids where instead we saw great resiliency.”