STAPLES -- Talking with Staples-Motley head football coach Ryan Beachy one might think his Cardinals lost Friday night.
That wasn't the case but it was a bittersweet 20-6 Northern Lakes Conference victory over the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines.
Even though S-M improved to 2-0 overall, it lost two fumbles, had 10 penalties for 89 yards and a successful Wolverine running attack dampened the Cardinals' win.
"We started making mental mistakes and they start thinking they can run the ball and pass the ball," said Beachy. "So they start moving the ball a little bit."
Things looked good for the Cardinals early. They held W-DC to three straight 3-and-out series and held them to just 5 yards passing and 28 yards rushing in the first quarter.
Junior quarterback Adam Johnson revved up the offense with a 54-yard touchdown toss to Izaak Schafer and a 56-yard scoring pass to Kurt Porter to give S-M a 12-0 lead after the first quarter.
"They had to cover both the run and the pass and that opened up the running game more," said Johnson of the benefits of the passing game. The Cardinals rushed for only 18 yards before Johnson's two touchdown passes.
"There's always a crack in the window, and if you don't close that crack in a hurry, it will stay open and get bigger," said Beachy. "We closed it right away, 12-0, six minutes into the ballgame."
Then things started to unravel for the Cardinals. In the second half they turned the ball over on downs and coughed up two fumbles on consecutive drives.
W-DC's offense, meanwhile, was getting warmed up. Junior running back Matt Sweere rushed for 62 of his 200 yards in the first half and the Wolverines controlled the ball most of the second quarter.
But W-DC shot itself in the foot as well. It put together an 18-play drive, only to turn the ball over on downs. On its next drive, W-DC drove to the Cardinals' 7-yard line but two penalties killed that drive.
"We made a couple of mental mistakes and that hurt us early," said Wolverines coach Ryan Kapping. "That's what we have to cut down. Last year we lost games because we got beat physically. Physically, I think we outplayed (S-M)."
Sweere owned the second half, gaining 70 yards in the third quarter and 68 in the fourth. The junior highlighted his night with a 50-yard scoring dash with 50 seconds left.
"We're a running team," said Kapping. "We think we can pass, but we have to get the running game going, and we did that."
Ben Spar scored the Cardinals' third touchdown on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter, but even S-M players knew they were physically beat.
"They (Wolverines) were playing a lot of power football," said Johnson, who threw for 171 yards and rushed for 30. "They were pretty much just running over us."
Said Beachy, "They weren't the same team we saw play Albany last week. Give them credit. We were tired, we had to substitute a lot more than they did, but give credit to our juniors and sophomores. They stepped up and when they played they played well."
Wadena-Deer Creek 0 0 0 6 -- 6
Staples-Motley 12 0 8 0 -- 20
SM-Adam Johnson 54 pass to Izaak Schafer (kick failed) 6:19
SM-Johnson 56 pass to Kurt Porter (run failed) 4:36
SM-Ben Spar 1 run (Spar run good) 2:22
WDC-Matt Sweere 50 run (pass failed) :50
Rushes-yards -- SM 28-118; WDC 52-220
Pass comp-att-int-yards -- SM 6-10-0-171; WDC 6-17-1-73
Total offense -- SM 38-289; WDC 69-293
Rushing -- SM-- Nick Doll 12-48, Landon Thompson 7-22, Adam Johnson 6-30, Andy Mertens 2-17, Ben Spar 1-1; WDC-- Matt Sweere 35-200, Travis Pettit 14-33, Tyler Neu 3-(-13)
Passing -- SM-- Johnson 6-10-171; WDC-- Neu 6-17-73
Receiving -- SM-- Izaak Schafer 2-64, Kurt Porter 1-56, Zach Martin 1-34, Joe Weishalla 1-13, Tyler Frisk 1-4; WDC--Seth Meier 2-58, Brandon Currie 3-12, Sweere 1-3
Conference -- SM 1-0, WDC 0-1. Overall -- SM 2-0, WDC 0-2. Next game -- S-M vs. Warroad, W-DC at Roseau, 7 p.m. Friday.
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