Yellowjackets advance to Section final with easy win
PERHAM -- Jordan Hein scored the first of five touchdowns three minutes into the game and the Yellowjackets breezed by Crookston 35-14 to advance to the Section 8AAA finals.
Hein scored twice rushing and threw for three scores in a game where the Pirates struggled all night to contain the Perham senior.
Perham will face Park Rapids Area Friday, Nov. 2 at 5:30 p.m. in Fargodome.
"We are pretty optimistic right now," Hein said. "Park Rapids is a tough team and we're a pretty good team, as well."
Both Park Rapids and Perham can put up points. Both teams average around 28 points per game. The difference between the two clubs is Perham's defense allows only 15 ppg, while Park Rapids has allowed 24.
"Our defense plays the way we've been playing lately, it's going to be pretty tough to put up those points," Hein said.
Crookston found that out the hard way after Perham shutout the Pirates in the first half going to the break up comfortably 21-0.
Hein hit Eli Beachy from ten yards out with five seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Eric Brauch caught a three-yard pass from Hein with 6:06 remaining in the first half. Brauch caught two passes for 42 yards, including a 39-yard play to set up Beachy's score.
"Everybody is keying on Hein," the Perham senior wide-out Brauch said. "He draws the corner in and leaves me wide open for the fade. I've been doing damage secretly. I'm just catching the pass and doing what I can."
Brauch has gotten little fanfare, but leads the team this season with 22 catches for 292 yards and five touchdowns.
Perham scored a touchdown in each quarter, including a 39-yard run by Hein in the third and a six-yard scoring pass to Austin Erickson in the fourth quarter.
Nick Bahls was perfect in the first half and the game kicking extra points.
Each of Crookston's first five drives in the game ended in a punt.
Josh Edlund scored both of Crookston's touchdowns on a five-yard run with 4:21 to go in the third quarter and a late score with 5:27 left in the ballgame from 14 yards out against the Perham reserves.
Offensively, the game was all Yellowjackets. Perham had a 21-13 advantage in first downs, a 437-218 gap in total yards and led in time of possession 24:46 - 19:38.
Hein rushed 12 times for 156 yards and two scores. He was 9-12 passing for 89 yards and three touchdowns.
Payton Jordahl rushed a dozen times for 54 yards. Nick Bahls average 11 yards per carry on four rushes for 45 yards.
Edlund led Crookston with 86 yards on 16 carries with two scores.
Hein was also second on the team with seven tackles.
The play of the defense and the move indoors for the section final should play in the Yellowjackets' favor and has the team leaders feeling confident on a return to the state quarterfinals, this year in Duluth, and beyond to the Metrodome.
"We feel like we can beat anyone in the state in the dome," Hein said. "We can throw; we can pass. That factor alone, rather than being outside in the Minnesota cold, we're pretty excited about it."
"We've been looking forward to it all year," said Brauch. "It will definitely be an advantage for us."
Perham came out like the extra week off while they had a bye in the first round of the playoffs was good for the team. They had more team speed and outhit the Pirates in noticeable fashion.
The intensity, especially on the defensive side, from the likes of Hein, Cole Schmitz, Austin Erickson, Luke Sailer and Chris Hutmacher, who led Perham with nine tackles, was a defining statement early in the game.
Perham was off the ball quicker than Crookston and when players met it was accompanied by a loud smack of Jacket pads meeting and sending many Pirates backwards.
"Beginning of the year, the first two quarters we'd play, but it wasn't Perham football," said Brauch. "We got our stuff together playing all four quarters as hard as we can."
The Perham defense played an exceptional game limiting Edlund, who has proven dangerous this season, and it was done without their leader Dan Ingebrand, who missed the game due to illness.
Park Rapids bombed Roseau 41-14 Saturday afternoon to punch their ticket to Fargodome.
Perham (8-1) defeated Park Rapids Area (5-5) by a score of 34-12 in week two of the season at home.
The winner will travel to Duluth for a Nov. 10 match-up with the winner of Section 7AAA at Public School Stadium.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
The No. 1-seeded Proctor Rails play the No. 2 Esko Eskomos in the 7AAA final Thursday, Nov. 1 at Malosky Stadium at Griggs Field on the campus of the University of Minnesota-Duluth at 6:30 p.m.
Last year's defeat in the state quarterfinal round kept the Yellowjackets from a trip to Metrodome and has been a goal to advance past since the loss to Providence Academy.
"Bitter taste left in our mouth," Brauch said. "We're going to go at it; we're going to win it this year."