PERHAM — Nathanael Holecek and Zeb Nelson combined for five rushing touchdowns leading the Thief River Falls Prowlers (4-2, 3-2) over the No. 10-3A Perham Yellowjackets (4-2, 3-1) by a score of 34-14 in Heart O’ Lakes-North football Friday night.
The loss, combined with No. 6-4A Detroit Lakes’ 14-7 victory at No. 9-3A Park Rapids, puts the conference title in Laker hands should DL win out their remaining games, at home versus Perham next Friday and at Pequot Lakes (3-3, 2-3) Wednesday, Oct. 16. Detroit Lakes is 6-0 overall, 4-0 in the HOL-North and ranked No 6 in Class 4A.
The 4A-Prowlers jumped all over the Yellowjackets scoring on their first three offensive drives.
Nelson capped an opening eight-play, 69-yard drive with an 11-yard touchdown run around left end with 6:35 to play in the first quarter.
Perham’s first two drives stalled before reaching the midfield stripe forcing Austin Erickson to punt.
Nelson scored from a yard out to finish an 11-play, 76-yard drive putting Thief River Falls up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Perham faced a fourth and two at their own 47 and elected to run Erickson on a fake punt.
The Prowlers stuffed Erickson for a three-yard loss and took advantage of the field position making Perham pay in two plays when Holocek scored the first of his three touchdowns from 42 yards out giving the Prowlers a commanding 20-0 lead with less than five minutes to play before the half.
Perham rallied titling field position in their favor with multiple attempts to chew into the deficit late in the half.
Eli Beachy and Payton Jordahl moved the ball to the brink of the Prowler red zone setting up a 21-yard touchdown run by Cole Schmitz to cut the lead to 20-7 with 2:33 remaining on the first half clock.
On the ensuing Prowler drive, Erickson forced a fumble by TyJuan Brown as the Prowlers tried to run out the clock and Colin Neitzke recovered the football at the Prowler 23.
An incomplete pass, an 11-yard loss and a rush for no gain forced a fourth and 20. Beachy dropped back to pass but was forced to scramble around the left side. Beachy dove for the first down marker but was stopped inches short of the first down killing the rally and the first half.
Thief River Falls took the second half kickoff and drove 80 yards on 12 plays on a statement drive culminating in a Holocek five-yard touchdown run and a 27-7 lead.
Perham answered driving 81 yards to an 11-yard Beachy touchdown run to the right end zone pylon for the Yellowjackets’ final score at 27-14.
Holecek scored his third touchdown in the waning seconds for the 34-14 final.
Both Prowler running backs ran for over 100 yards. Holocek led all rushers with 125 yards on 22 carries scoring three times. Ian Lund rushed 15 times for 119 yards.
Beachy led Perham rushing 16 times for 67 yards and one touchdown. Beachy connected on nine of 12 passes for 59 yards.
The Prowlers escaped the Perham defense, which has played stout of late, slipping tackles and finding a lot of daylight in which to run.
Erickson and Schmitz led Perham in tackles with 13 each. Erickson had three tackles for losses.
Thief River Falls outgained Perham in total yards 324-232. First downs were 19-14 Prowlers.
Thief also owned time of possession 26:11-21:49.
Friday night's game was part of Homecoming activities, which concludes Saturday with the Perham Invitational volleyball tournament in the afternoon at PWMS and PACC and the Homecoming dance in the evening.
Perham has a stiff remainder of the season traveling next week to ranked Detroit Lakes and finishing regular season play on the road at ranked Park Rapids on the Wednesday MEA game Oct. 16.
The Lakers can clinch their second straight HOL-North title with a win over Perham next Friday. The Jacket defense will have their hands full controlling DL quarterback Michael Herzog, the Heart O’ Lakes second-leading scorer with 14 touchdowns and 84 points. Herzog surpassed Todd Steinmetz two weeks ago to become Detroit Lakes’ all-time leading scorer.
In other North games, Pequot Lakes spoiled Crookston’s Homecoming 14-13 in double overtime.
In the HOL-Classic, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton’s Chad Johnson rushed for 224 yards and five touchdowns off eight carries to lead the Rebels to a 53-12 win over Warroad.
The HOL’s leading scorer Ryan Bruggeman and Pelican Rapids outgunned East Grand Forks 47-40 in cross-conference action.
Royalton defeated New York Mills (2-4, 1-3) 15-0 in the Prairie Conference-South.
TRF 7 13 7 7 - 34
PER 0 7 7 0 - 14
1st 6:35 TRF - Zeb Nelson 11 yd run (Dominic Kruse kick)
8 plays, 69 yards, TOP 3:24, TRF 7 - PER 0
2nd 11:08 TRF - Zeb Nelson 1 yd run (Dominic Kruse kick)
11 plays, 76 yards, TOP 3:13, TRF 14 - PER 0
4:50 TRF - Nathanael Holecek 43 yd run (TEAM rush failed)
2 plays, 44 yards, TOP 0:49, TRF 20 - PER 0
2:33 PER - Cole Schmitz 21 yd run (Nick Bahls kick)
7 plays, 69 yards, TOP 2:17, TRF 20 - PER 7
3rd 05:39 TRF - Nathanael Holecek 5 yd run (Dominic Kruse kick)
12 plays, 80 yards, TOP 6:21, TRF 27 - PER 7
2:16 PER - Eli Beachy 11 yd run (Nick Bahls kick)
8 plays, 81 yards, TOP 3:23, TRF 27 - PER 14
4th 0:31 TRF - Nathanael Holecek 3 yd run (Dominic Kruse kick)
12 plays, 38 yards, TOP 5:07, TRF 34 - PER 14