PINE RIVER -- It's said that football games are won in the trenches.
That was the case for the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Wolves as they ran through the Pine River-Backus Tigers Friday night 24-6.
The Wolves rushed for 174 yards with quarterback Nick Arola scoring three W-H-A touchdowns on 18 carries.
"The big difference was right in the middle of the field," Tigers coach Randy Schwegel said. "Walker ran those little delays with the quarterback where he'd give a dive fake and then take it right up the field. We just didn't have the people there to make the play.
The Wolves' ground game went to work after Jeremy Wizner recovered PR-B quarterback Ryan Laposky's fumble at the Tigers' 45 late in the first quarter. The Wolves marched down the field and Arola scored on a 1-yard option play.
After another Arola touchdown two minutes into the second quarter, the Tigers put together a punishing offensive drive.
Starting at their own 34, the Tigers drove 66 yards in 16 plays, taking more than seven minutes off the clock. The drive culminated in a Joe Whittemore 2-yard plunge. Whittemore led the Tigers' rushing attack with 42 yards on seven carries. Teammate Luke Grindahl added 39 yards on 12 carries.
"I thought we could run the ball against them and in the second quarter we did a great job against them," said Schwegel. "We had Gary Anderson in the backfield and that was a new move for us. He ran the ball hard. Luke and Joe ran the ball hard as well."
What momentum had been gained by the Tigers was squandered as W-H-A's Brian Shreurs raced the ensuing kickoff 32 yards to PR-B's 44. Passes of 26 and 13 yards put the Wolves on the Tigers' doorstep and once again Arola cashed in for his third score.
The diminutive Shreurs, who is listed at 5-foot-7 but is closer to 5-5, led the Wolves' ground game with 81 yards.
"Brian's a kid that has had heart since back in kindergarten," Wolves coach Pete Naugle said. "He's definitely a leader on our team and he's flying around all the time."
One big difference Schwegel pointed out was that whenever W-H-A found itself in a hole, the Wolves came up with the play to dig themselves out, which wasn't the case for the Tigers.
"Walker had some penalties at some crucial times," Schwegel said, "but they made them up. It seemed like when we had penalties we couldn't make it up. When we had a loss it stayed a loss."
Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 7 14 0 3 -- 24
Pine River-Backus 0 6 0 0 -- 6
WHA -- Nick Arola 1 run (Jon Ostertag kick) :07.
WHA -- Arola 9 run (Ostertag kick) 9:57.
PR-B -- Joe Whittemore 2 run (kick failed) 2:44.
WHA -- Arola 4 run (Ostertag kick) :43.
WHA -- Ostertag 23 field goal 5:57.
Rushes-yards -- PR-B 37-142, WHA 38-174.
Pass comp-att-int-yards -- PR-B 6-18-1-77, WHA 5-10-64.
Total offense -- PR-B 219, WHA 238.
Rushing -- PR-B Joe Whittemore 7-42, Gary Anderson 7-25, Ryan Laposky 9-33, Luke Grindahl 12-39, Nathan Winn 1-3, Joel Burns 1-0; WHA Brian Shreurs 11-81, Nick Arola 18-66, Rob Rich 8-26.
Passing -- PR-B Laposky 6-18-1-77, WHA Arola 5-10-64.
Receiving -- PR-B Anderson 2-6, Burns 4-71; WHA Shreurs 1-23, David Nelson 3-15, Rich 1-26.
Conference -- PR-B 1-2. Overall -- PR-B 2-2. Next game -- PR-B at Lake of the Woods 7 p.m. Friday.
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