Perham clinches HOL-North title with victory over EGF
A high-scoring first half of three touchdowns from each team turned into a war in the trenches as the East Grand Forks Green Wave hung around before Jordan Hein put the game away for the Yellowjackets in a thrilling 35-28 victory to seal sole possession of the Heart O' Lakes-North conference title.
Perham got off to a quick start jumping to leads of 14-0 and 21-7, but Green Wave junior quarterback Nick Erickson reeled off three touchdowns in the second quarter, including a five-play, 62-yard drive in the final minute, scoring from five yards out to tie the game at 21 going into halftime.
Jordan Hein, Perham's quarterback, matched Erickson's efforts scoring three times -- a 50-yard run on the second play of the game to get the Perham fans jacked up early; a three-yard touchdown run at the end of the third period to put Perham up 28-21 and again with 3:32 remaining, this time from four yards out, to give the Jackets what appeared like an insurmountable 35-21 lead.
The game had much the feel of the prior victory at Detroit Lakes where the last team with the ball would win the game. The battle continued to the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
"We worked together as a team, practiced hard, conditioned hard; as you've seen, we've beaten most teams in the fourth quarter," Perham standout lineman Jesse Hein said. "We just got it done and I couldn't be prouder of this team."
Erickson moved the Green Wave 66 yards in just over a minute to cut the lead to 35-28 on a seven-yard pass to Ryan Brown.
The Green Wave lined up for an onside kick, but Tom Hajicek's kick failed to go ten yards giving the ball up to the Yellowjackets at midfield.
Thanks to a pumped-up Perham offensive line, Jordan Hein racked up some extra yardage blasting straight ahead for 40 yards to the Green Wave seven-yard line before kneeling in victory formation to run out the clock and seal the conference title.
Perham earned sole possession of the HOL-North title after Pequot Lakes was defeated 28-6 by Thief River Falls, a team the Jackets narrowly defeated in overtime. That victory was the first in a regular season three-game win streak to close out conference play.
Perham finished 5-1 in conference play and 5-3 overall. Their only conference loss came to the Patriots in Pequot Lakes. Detroit Lakes, Pequot Lakes and Thief River Falls finished in a three-way tie for second behind the Jackets at 4-2.
Two back-to-back games totaling 63 points have shown Perham has enough offense to stick with any team they're going to see in section playoffs. They will enter section play as the top seed. QRF rankings will be finalized after a handful of Thursday games that can still affect a few teams in section 8AAA. The most likely opponent for Perham will be Staples-Motley. The Cardinals are winless on the season and face Breckenridge in the Fargo Dome today, Thursday, Oct. 20.
It was not all offense that did in the Green Wave. Perham came up with two big stops after quarter breaks. They never trailed in the game, but East Grand Forks had sniffs at taking the lead.
On the first drive of the second half, the Green Wave moved to the Perham 32 and faced fourth down and three. An Erickson pass to Brent Hagen looked to be enough for the first down but a big hit from Brady Sazama jarred the ball loose giving Perham the football on downs.
Up 28-21, Perham defended an 11-play Green Wave drive inside the home 30-yard line. Erickson needed to throw to pick up 10 yards on third down and rolled out to his right. From the weak corner position, Perham's Mike Wiskow was free and sprinted all the way across the field on a corner blitz tracking down Erickson for a four-yard loss. An Erickson pass on fourth down to Ryan Brown fell incomplete to stymie another EGF drive.
"I just had to get him," Wiskow said. "It was do or die and they were approaching our goal line. We got the fourth down stop on the next play and it just swung our momentum."
Wiskow's sack was a game-changer that could be felt on the field. Both teams went toe-to-toe, but Perham had the advantage of playing with the lead and Wiskow's sack led to another denial of points to a frustrated Green Wave offense. Wiskow was unimpeded after seeing no receivers to cover on his side of the field.
"They took my pass restrictions away and let me run free and I just took off."
Jordan Hein followed up the defensive stand leading a nine-play, 72-yard drive to the end zone to put the game away on his four-yard touchdown run.
Even early in the season, when the Yellowjackets were not firing on all cylinders, they had a knack for scoring late in the game. With a playmaker like Jordan Hein, who has the ability to break a play open at any time, that is a given. But the surging efforts of the offensive line controlled the Green Wave late in the game providing the needed yardage and time off the clock to seal the victory.
"I knew at the beginning of the season we had an athletic group of guys and we've been together a long time," Jesse Hein said. "We figured it could be done (conference championship) at the beginning of the season. We started off a little shaky and a couple guys just finally got together and said, "hey, we're better than this.'"
In the past three games, the Yellowjackets have proven just how good they can be.
"We've been proud of the leadership we've seen from the seniors," Head Coach Mike Jordahl said. "They knew they had great potential and it's starting to show at the right time. We look forward to seeing what we can do in our second season. We've all been enjoying this momentum and it's really starting to show at all levels."
The Green Wave had 411 total yards on offense to Perham's 356. Perham out-rushed EGF 266-231. Erickson won the passing battle accumulating 180 yards on 14 attempts with one score. Jordan Hein was 4-9 for 90 yards, including a 39-yard touchdown pass to Gabe Pankonin. Pankonin also scored on a one-yard run in the first quarter to give the Yellowjackets a 14-0 lead.
Temperatures in the 30's had the pigskin feeling a little solid as the ball hit the ground numerous times in the game, more often than not, on kickoff returns for the Green Wave. EGF put the ball on the ground six times but only lost it once. Perham had two fumbles and the Green Wave snatched them up both times. Perham's Josh Nordick had the game's only interception. Payton Jordahl led the Perham defense with nine tackles, five solo and four assists, including a couple of jarring hits on Green Wave ball carriers. Ty Haverland, Sazama, Jesse Hein and Dan Ingebrand all had eight tackles each.
On the season, Jordan Hein eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing and passing (1,023 and 1,119). The last 1,000-yard rusher for the Yellowjackets was Marcus Hendrickson in 2007 with 1,039. Ben Bucholz had monster years passing in 2008 and 2009 throwing for 1,650 and 2,324, respectively. Hendrickson threw for 1,536 in 2007, the last Yellowjacket to eclipse both marks.