PEQUOT LAKES — The No. 2 seeded Pequot Lakes Patriots earned a trip back to the Section 8-3A championship thanks to a dominating second half in a 37-14 victory over No. 3 seeded Thief River Falls in Saturday’s semifinal game.
The Patriots were able to avenge an earlier 28-6 loss to the Prowlers with a bruising ground game and a defense that forced five turnovers and shut out Thief River Falls for the last three quarters
Logan Lange led the scoring effort for Pequot Lakes with two catches for touchdowns and a rushing touchdown. Lange also had 123 yards on the ground in his final home game. The Patriots rushed for 353 yards and totaled 415 yards for the game.
“Coach (Chip) Lohmiller has been on us for playing sloppy football and it was our last game at home and my last game here as a senior,” Lange said. “I told everyone that we have to battle because these guys are really good. We played with a lot of heart and were ready to go tonight.”
The game’s key series happened early in the third quarter as Thief River Falls drove into Pequot Lakes territory. The Prowlers’ Kaleb Torgerson rushed the ball to Pequot’s 13, but had the ball stripped and recovered by the Patriots.
One play later, Lange had his longest run of the night, a 70-yard dash down to the Prowlers’ 17.
Lange went into the end zone on a 1-yard burst later and the Patriots had a 20-14 lead.
“I could tell at the end of the second quarter that our players were intense and starting to believe in themselves,” said Lohmiller. “If you stand our two teams up together, Thief River Falls is way bigger. They have more athletes, but we knew that we had the heart and the speed to do it if we just executed our plays. We did that, and we tried to confuse them with counters and gives, and our guys believed in it.”
Early in the fourth quarter with the Patriots ahead 23-14, Thief River Falls was on the move again and Torgerson appeared to have a 13-yard touchdown run, but the Patriots got the ball out of his hands again and recovered on the 1.
That preceded a 99-yard scoring drive capped off by Nathan Stonacek’s 21-yard TD run for a 30-14 lead.
Pequot Lakes added one more score on Nolan Michaelson’s 1-yard run later in the quarter.
With the victory, the Patriots will play Perham Thursday night at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. The Patriots defeated the Yellowjackets 25-14 during the regular season.
“We beat Perham earlier in the year but they have a lot of great athletes and a great line,” said Lohmiller. “We are going to have to be tough and we will have a lot of speed so we will just have to see how it goes.”
The Prowlers got on the scoreboard at the 9:48 mark of the first quarter on a 16-yard scamper by Ralph Williams. Pequot Lakes came right back with Lange on the receiving end of a 26-yard pass from Jordan Redmond.
After Thief River Falls scored another touchdown late in the first quarter, the Patriots struck again with Redmond and Lange hooking up on a 20-yard scoring play to tie the game at 14.
“Everyone is staying focused and knowing what is at stake,” said Lange. “We as seniors had to get to the Alerus Center. I think that if we can shut down (Perham quarterback Jordan) Hein we have a great chance of winning the football game.”
Thief River Falls 7 7 0 0 — 14
Pequot Lakes 14 0 9 14 — 37
TRF-Ralph Williams 16 run (Jacob Leier kick) 9:48
PL-Logan Lange 26 pass from Jordan Redmond (Conner Leagjeld kick) 7:35
TRF-Ryan Hutton 29 run (Leier kick) 2:05
PL-Lange 20 pass from Redmond (Leagjeld kick) 8:15
PL-Lange 1 run (kick blocked) 4:40
PL-Leagjeld 25 field goal 2:10
PL-Nathan Stonacek 21 run (Leagjeld kick) 7:04
PL-Nolan Michaelson 1 run (Leagjeld kick) 5:01
Rushes-yards: PL 39-353; TRF 50-288
Pass comp-att-int-yards: PL 4-13-0-62; TRF 0-5-1-0
Total offense: PL 415; TRF 288
Rushing: PL Nolan Michaelson 18-169, Logan Lange 14-123, Nathan Stonacek 3-49, Jordan Redmond 3-10, Nevin Greer 1-2
Passing: PL Redmond 4-13-0-62
Receiving: PL Lange 2-46, Peter Harrison 1-9, Riley Johnson 1-7
Overall: 7-3. Next: No. 2 Pequot Lakes vs. No. 1 Perham in Section 8 3A championship at the Alerus Center 8 p.m. Thursday.