Defense was projected as a strength of the 2009 Brainerd Warriors football team and through four games that has proved to be true.
Brainerd limited the Moorhead Spuds to 199 total yards, 84 in the first half, sacked the quarterback three times and forced two turnovers in a 26-7 Section 8-5A victory on a drizzly Friday night at Adamson Field.
Brainerd's Taylor Main dove into the end zone for a touchdown after catching a pass against Moorhead. Brainerd Dispatch/Kelly Humphrey » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"We're real confident in our defense," Warriors lineman Aaron Pavek said. "When we need to win a big game I think our defense is going to hold strong when we need to. Our defense just needs to keep growing and we're just going to keep going."
The Warriors shut out Moorhead until 5:14 remaining when Sam Stetz scored a harmless 12-yard touchdown.
"Our defense played extremely well," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. "Moorhead has been scoring some points on people, they can do it. We just had a really good defensive effort.
Warriors 26, Moorhead 7
The key: Brainerd allowed 199 total yards and forced two fumbles.
Overall: Brd 3-1, Moor 1-3
Next: St. Cloud Apollo at Brainerd 2 p.m. Oct. 3.
"Of course, we were fortunate. We got a couple turnovers, and made some big plays."
Big plays included a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown by Brainerd's Kyle Crocker, his second of the season. He shed a few tacklers, broke away and received a block from teammate Tyler Kohlmeier that cleared his path to the end zone.
"I caught it, looked, saw an opening, and hit it," Crocker said. "I'm running down and Kohlmeier comes up with a great block on their punter. That sprung me for the touchdown."
Other big plays included a 20-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Kevin Peterson, who took the ball away from defenders as he fell backward and gave Brainerd a 12-0 lead.
"I got some good protection from the guys up front," Warriors quarterback Reid Mimmack said. "I saw Kevin, it was a fourth-down play so we needed to make it, and I think Kevin knew that, too. He just jumped up over the guys and made a great play."
Taylor Main made another big play, gathering in a 10-yard pass from Mimmack and diving into the end zone for a 19-point lead.
"I had guys on my back, I could feel it," Mimmack said. "I felt our halfback pick him up so there wasn't as much pressure. I just saw Main, he was sitting there calling for the ball, and it was a great second effort to get in for the touchdown. I think he dove over the pylon."
Carsten Nelson opened the scoring for Brainerd, capping a 12-play, 56-yard drive with a 2-yard run. Linebacker Sam Pagel kept Brainerd's first possession alive when he recovered a fumbled punt at the Moorhead 23. Nelson scored seven plays later.
In the first half, Brainerd scored on its first three possessions, gained 143 yards and totaled all of its points. The Warriors had the ball for only 23 plays and gained only 35 yards in the second half, which became a ball-control scrum as the rain began to intensify.
"You're up four scores, you don't want to do something to put them back in it," Stolski said. "The clock is our ally then. Still, in all, Moorhead played stouter defense in the second half, and we didn't play as well offensively."
Moorhead 0 0 0 7 - 7
Brainerd 12 14 0 0 - 26
Brd-Carsten Nelson 2 run (kick fails) 6:17
Brd-Kevin Peterson 20 pass from Reid Mimmack (run fails) 3:26
Brd-Taylor Main 10 pass from Mimmack (Zach Cadwell kick) 8:32
Brd-Kyle Crocker 65 punt return (Cadwell kick) 6:47
Moor-Sam Stetz 12 run (Noah Julin kick) 5:14
First downs: Moor 12, Brd 12
Rushes-yards: Moor 29-57, Brd 44-124
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Moor 9-20-0-142, Brd 4-10-0-54
Total offense: Moor 199, Brd 178
Punts-avg: Moor 6-30.8, Brd 6-31.2
Return yards: Moor 64, Brd 93
Fumbles-lost: Moor 2-2, Brd 1-0
Penalties-yds lost: Moor 4-40, Brd 6-45
Rushing: Brd, Mimmack 4-(-29), Nelson 17-49, Main 3-11, Crocker 3-30, Jordan Hayes 9-28, Dan Lauer 1-1, Jaron Hanson 5-34, Mason Fussy 1-(-3), Jack Luke 1-3; Moor, Stetz 6-22, Matt Duginski 14-55
Passing: Brd, Mimmack 4-10-54; Moor, Luke Gotta 9-19-142, Brooks Miller 0-1-0
Receiving: Brd, Peterson 1-20, Dylan Wheeler 1-27, Main 1-10, Nelson 1-(-3); Moor, Stetz 5-82
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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