PILLAGER -- Turnovers and penalties.
Ask any football coach and those two things will be the difference between a win and a loss.
A packed house at John Reimer Field witnessed Friday how mental mistakes can make a ranked football team ordinary.
The Class 1A fifth-ranked Huskies turned the ball over three times and were penalized for 45 yards in a 30-0 Prairie North Conference loss to Class 2A's third-ranked Ottertail Central Bulldogs.
"We had high hopes," said Pillager's Tony Mason, who finished with 66 yards rushing and 43 yards receiving. "We thought we had this game and we came out and started out slow in the first quarter. That built into the second quarter. Our first half was slop."
Pillager struggled from the start. The Bulldogs scored on their first two possessions. The first drive went for 51 yards on five plays and was capped by a Casey Love 6-yard run.
Running back Dave Moll scored on a 27-yard run to finish a nine-play, 78-yard drive on OTC's second possession.
"They were just getting off the ball and we weren't," said Pillager head coach Dan Boushee. "They were just more physical than us at the start. They definitely set the tone."
On Pillager's next drive, quarterback Jason Eastman and receiver Mitch Steffen suffered a miscommunication. Eastman threw to the flat, thinking Steffen was going to stop. Instead, Steffen flew down the field while cornerback Kyle Belmont stepped in and went 51 yards the other way to give OTC a 24-0 halftime lead.
"We could have easily given up being down 24-0 and thrown in the towel, but we didn't," said Pillager head coach Dan Boushee.
Pillager came out in the second half with rejuvenated fire and forced the Bulldogs to punt. Pillager was rolling until a holding penalty forced the Huskies to punt.
On the second drive of the third quarter another holding penalty stalled Pillager. Pillager's third drive of the second half ended in an interception by OTC's Joey Olson. Pillager's final drive of the game was again stalled by a holding penalty.
"I felt like in the second quarter both our offense and defense did a good job so we didn't make any changes to our game plan," said Boushee. "It was just turnovers and mistakes that we made."
Defensively, Eric Fornshell finished with a sack and a tackle for a loss to highlight a stingy Pillager second-half defense. Despite the early damage, OTC only finished with 268 yards offense.
"We picked it up in the second half and finally found our game," said Mason. "For good football teams we have to get ready the first half, not the second half."
Ottertail Central 16 8 0 6 -- 30
Pillager 0 0 0 0 -- 0
OTC-Casey Love 6 run (Dave Moll) 6:48
OTC-Moll 27 run (Jeremy Christensen) 13.9
OTC-Kyle Belmont interception return (Moll run) 11:11
OTC-Joey Olson 6 run (run failed) 3:47
Rushes-yards -- P 43-107, OTC 26-200
Pass comp-att-int-yards -- P 4-12-3-63, OTC 4-5-0-68
Total offense -- P 55-170, OTC 31-268
Rushing -- P Tony Mason 19-66, Robert Bethel 8-22, Thomas Buckingham 6-10, Jason Eastman 8-6, Mitch Steffen 1-7, Travis Buckingham 1- (-4); OTC-Dave Moll 6-64, Jeremy Christensen 13-47, Casey Love 8-35, Joey Olson 5-22, Kyle Belmont 2-20, Eric Koep 1-5, Andy Olson 1-7
Passing -- P Eastman 4-12-63; OTC-Olson 4-5-68
Receiving -- P- Mason 2-43, Ben Broberg 1-5, Steffen 1-15; OTC-John Baker 1-14, Love 1-11, Cody Norberg 1-16, Christensen 1-7
Conference -- P 1-1. Overall -- P 3-1. Next game -- Pillager at Parkers Prairie 7:30 p.m. Friday.
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