Vikings defeat Jackets in last minute
For the sixth time in seven seasons, the Pelican Rapids Vikings found a way to put a notch in the Perham loss column, this time needing all 48 minutes to hang on for a 21-20 victory.
The Vikings looked to have the game in hand up 21-6 after quarterback Devin Schell scored the third Pelican Rapids touchdown with 6:03 remaining.
"I'm proud of the way our kids played, especially in the fourth quarter," Perham Head Coach Mike Jordahl said.
Jordahl implored his team to not pay attention to the scoreboard and finish the game playing hard. The Yellowjackets responded with two quick touchdowns but came up on the wrong end of one point-after attempt.
Perham junior quarterback Jordan Hein put the offense on his shoulders and marched the team for two scores in three minutes. Hein scored on a 1-yard run and a 4-yard touchdown run.
A two-point conversion to Gabe Pankonin cut the score to 21-14, before Hein's second touchdown run cut the lead to one point with 1:33 remaining.
The Yellowjackets elected to go for the win and a second point-after pass attempt to Pankonin was knocked down by Casey Bruggeman.
Bruggeman dove in front of Pankonin to get his hands on the ball at the goal line preserving the victory for the eighth-ranked Class 2A Vikings.
Bruggeman scored the second touchdown for Pelican Rapids on a 22-yard pass from Schell to open the second half.
Perham was a second away from taking a 6-0 lead into halftime. A Hein 13-yard pass to Pankonin provided the only first half scoring until the final play before the break.
Schell heaved a 25-yard prayer to the front corner pylon and 6-foot-five-inch receiver Tucker Forsgren outstretched two Yellowjackets and came down with a miracle score at the buzzer to tie the game at six.
Perham kicker Jesse Hein's PAT had been blocked. Cris Molina booted his through the uprights sending momentum and a one-point advantage with the Vikings to the locker room at the break up 7-6.
During a special halftime ceremony, Perham head coach Dave Cresap was recognized for being named MaxPreps.com's National Coach of the Year for his leadership of the state championship Yellowjacket basketball team.
In a small twist of irony, Pelican Rapids was the only team to defeat Cresap's Yellowjackets, who finished the season 31-1.
Before the football game, Jordahl mentioned confidence and controlling the ball as keys to the victory.
"We need to play with confidence and have ball security," he said.
The Yellowjackets kept the ball from the Vikings in the ground game, but gave it up twice on two interceptions. Neither pick-off led to Pelican Rapids points.
In fact, Bruggeman picked off Hein's first interception but on the return Dan Ingebrand forced a fumble that was recovered by Perham's Scott Graham at the 18.
Two plays later Jed Hanson intercepted Hein at the 41 but the Vikings were unable to capitalize on the only two Yellowjacket turnovers of the game.
The Vikings took the opening kick of the second half and marched a 7-play, 47-yard drive culminating in the Schell to Bruggeman connection building on their momentum and extending the lead to 14-6.
Perham's offense kicked into gear in the hurry-up when time became a factor late in the game. Until then, the Vikings allowed more yards than the Jackets, but were able to force punting situations keeping Perham out of scoring position.
Perham outrushed Pelican Rapids 260 yards to 231. Passing yards were nearly even with the Vikings having a small advantage 119-103. Like the scoreboard, total yards were close 363-350 in favor of Perham.
Hein led all rushers with 174 yards on 25 attempts. Mike Wiskow added 52 yards on six attempts. Fullback Jacob Still earned a tough 49 yards on nine carries.
Taylor Budke led the Vikings with 113 yards on 14 carries.
Pelican Rapids put the ball on the ground seven times. They lost four of those fumbles. The Yellowjackets fumbled once but recovered it.
The blocked extra point in the first quarter was indicative of similar special teams issues last season and in this game was certainly a factor in the late decision to go for two or kick for the tie.
"We're done with this game," Jordahl said. "We're moving on to next week."
Perham (0-1) travels to Park Rapids Friday, Sept. 9 to face the Panthers.
Perham defeated Park Rapids 12-6 at home last year in week two. The Panthers were beaten up at Hawley by the Nuggets 41-7 to open this year's campaign.
Correction: In the original web version of this story it was noted Pelican Rapids had defeated Perham seven consecutive years. The 2009-10 Yellowjackets defeated Pelican Rapids 32-0 in Pelican Rapids.
Game statistics courtesy of Ron Berns