Lakers take HOL North and Pigskin Paddle with win over Perham
PERHAM - The first zip code for the "Pigskin Paddle" will reside in Detroit Lakes.
The Lakers won the battle of the classes, as the Class 4A No. 4 ranked DL team won a hard-fought 36-28 game on the road against the Class 3A No. 2 ranked Perham Yellowjackets Friday.
The game had all sorts of implications, all now favoring the Lakers with the win.
First, DL remains undefeated at 7-0, while not only staking claim to the rights of the rivalry "Pigskin Paddle" trophy (which started its history Friday), but also clinching the North Heart O'Lakes Conference title.
And plenty of the victory goes to the physicality the Lakers put on in the trenches in the second half, where the offensive line was able to wear down the Perham defense, coming in the form of two explosive fourth-quarter touchdown runs by junior running back Jarret Nosal to close out the game.
Each of Nosal and junior quarterback Michael Herzog rushed for over 100 yards at 135 and 132 yards, respectively.
"We just wanted to start pounding the ball in the second half and that helped with our big and physical line," said Herzog, who also threw for three touchdowns.
Incidentally, it was that early pounding of the ball, which set up the game's longest play, which came in the third quarter.
Up by only one point 15-14, the Lakers started with the ball to start the second half on their own 31.
Three strong runs by Herzog off-tackle, using the famous Laker veer, the Yellowjacket defense started creeping in the box.
That's when Herzog struck.
"I made a pre-snap read and saw Stephen (Erb) singled up," Herzog said.
A play-action fake produced a perfect strike by Herzog, who led Erb streaking down the seam in stride for a 40-yard touchdown and a little more breathing room at 22-14.
"I feel like we played a very good physical game against a very physical team," Perham running back/linebacker Payton Jordahl said. "The drives that they scored on ultimately depended on one or two big yardage plays that were a result of a blown coverage or a misread by our defense. Offensively I feel like we came out of the shoot really well, it was just hard to play through our mental mistakes."
But the Lakers knew they had to contend with Perham all-star quarterback Jordan Hein, who didn't disappoint.
He followed up leading a 55-yard, 12-play drive, ending on a three-yard dive by the Yellowjacket signal-caller to pull back to within two at 22-20.
But for the most part, the Laker defense was able to hem Hein in, by not allowing any big plays to hurt them on a consistent basis.
Hein finished with a respectable 83 yards on the ground and 168 through the air, by going 14-23 and two touchdowns.
"We just wanted to keep (Hein) contained," said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher. "Last year in our game, we played him a little soft and gave him too much space, but this time we came after him and that seemed to help."
As the theme has been all season with the Lakers, their physical style of play on both sides of the ball started to wear on Perham, as was evident by DL's two fourth quarter drives which netted a pair of touchdowns and a total of 12 plays.
After the game's first punt by Perham gave the Lakers prime realty at the Jacket 31.
Herzog netted 12 yards on his first three rushes, followed by a three-yarder by Nosal, then a 16-yard blast up the middle to the end zone gave DL the 29-20 lead after the Christian Tigges extra-point kick with 7:36 remaining.
DL's defense came up big with a stuff on fourth and six on Perham's next drive from the Laker 28, which set up Nosal's 38-yard TD ramble with 1:25 left in regulation, with his team up 36-20.
Hein directed another last gasp at the lead, with a quick touchdown drive, ending on a 10-yard TD strike to senior wide receiver Eric Brauch, his second end zone catch of the game.
But the onside kick was not to be, as DL held on for the win.
"I very confident in the way we can use this loss," said Jordahl. "This team is extremely unique, the chemistry between each other is incomparable. I told my teammates to remember this taste of a loss and to carry that out with a new level of intensity in practice and throughout the playoffs. I have no doubt that we will bounce off of this loss and use each other to rebuild."
Hein was the focal point of the Laker defense and they were up to the task against one of the best players they have seen this season. Hein's favorite target was Josh Nordick, who finished with seven grabs for 101 yards.
"We went up against one of the best quarterbacks in the state, this is a good football team," Motschenbacher said of Perham.
Herzog is having quite the year behind center, as well, after he had his first three-touchdown passing game of the season. He finished with 85 yards passing by going 5-7 and no picks.
Two of them came in the second quarter to senior Casey Paskey on fourth and goal from the 16 and a three-yard toss to senior Kirk McLeod.
It was a half where the Lakers felt fortunate to lead 15-14 at halftime, despite starting it with a safety on the opening kickoff, after Perham didn't retrieve the ball, until landing on it in their own end zone.
"Things just were not going right in the first half and we were happy leading it at halftime," Motschenbacher said. "Our goal coming in was to run the ball effectively and keep possession."
Even with the North Heart O'Lakes Conference title in their back pockets and almost a sure bet of landing at least a first-round bye in the upcoming Section 8-4A playoffs with a top two seed, work still is not finished.
"It's a win, it was a fun game to play in, but we still have to get back to work Monday and prepare Wednesday (for Crookston)," Herzog said. "But it's exciting to win that paddle."
Perham is also on pace to gain a first round playoff bye. The Yellowjackets (6-1) will wrap up the regular season Wednesday, Oct. 17 at East Grand Forks.
"With a short week of practice ahead, we understand the importance of getting it done in practice," said Jordahl. "I think most important thing for us is to stay humble and stay hungry. Coach Jordahl says get better every day no matter what. A loss helps us find ways to improve greatly."
The Green Wave should prepare for a rejuvenated and hungry Perham team ready to start a new win streak heading into the playoffs.
The Lakers (7-0) will close the season in Crookston, with a win securing the top seed in the Section 8-4A playoffs.
Focus Sports Editor Robert Williams contributed to this story.
Detroit Lakes at Perham, Friday, Oct. 12.
Lakers 2 13 7 14 - 36
Yellowjackets 8 6 6 8 - 28
DL: Team safety.
Perh: Payton Jordahl 3-yard run; Tyler Glines pass from Jordan Hein. 3:06, 1st quarter.
DL: Casey Paskey 16-yard pass from Michael Herzog; kick blocked. 9:51, 2nd.
Perh: Eric Brauch 7-yard pass from Hein. Kick failed. 5:19, 2nd.
DL: Kirk McLeod 3-yard pass from Herzog; Christian Tigges kick. :07, 2nd.
DL: Stephen Erb 40-yard pass from Herzog; Tigges kick. 10:27, 3rd.
Perh: Hein 3-yard run; run failed. 4:15, 3rd.
DL: Jarret Nosal 16-yard run; Tigges kick. 7:36, 4th.
DL: Nosal 38-yard run; Tigges kick. 1:25, 4th.
Perh: Brauch 10-yard pass from Hein; Nick Bahls pass from Hein. :22, 4th.
Rushing (att-yds-td) -- DL: Jarret Nosal 16-135-2; Michael Herzog 29-132-0; Alex Weber 1-5-0; Stephen Erb 1-2-2. TOTALS: 47-274-2...Perh: Jordan Hein 23-83-1; Payton Jordahl 8-31-1; Josh Still 2-0-(-11). TOTALS: 33-103-2.
Passing (att-comp-inc-int-yds-tds) -- DL: Herzog 7-5-2-0-85-3...Perh: 23-14-9-0-168-2.
Receiving (rec-yds-tds) -- DL: Kirk McLeod 2-20-1; Erb 1-40-1; Casey Paskey 1-16-1; Derek Long 1-9-0...Perh: Josh Nordick 7-101-0; Eric Brauch 4-38-2; CJ Mulcahy 1-11-0; Austin Erickson 1-10-0; Tyler Glines 1-8-0.