Special teams key Jacket Homecoming win

By John George An old football adage says, "Offense puts fans in the seats, defense wins championships." But what about special teams? At Perham's homecoming game Friday night, a 25-8 win over Roseau, it was special teams that made...

By John George

An old football adage says, "Offense puts fans in the seats, defense wins championships."

But what about special teams?

At Perham's homecoming game Friday night, a 25-8 win over Roseau, it was special teams that made all the difference in the world.


The Yellowjackets (5-0, 4-0 HOL) had two touchdowns that were indirect results of special teams play and another that was directly linked.

The first score of the game was set up by special teams. With the first quarter winding down, Roseau had the ball deep in their own territory. Jacket head coach Howie Kangas rolled the dice. Betting his defense could make the stops, he started using his timeouts to force Roseau to punt into a stiff wind, and give his team one more possession with the wind at their back.

The strategy worked, as Roseau's punt went just 15 yards, setting the Jackets up at the Ram 33. Eight plays later, Nick Kiphuth scored from three yards out, giving Perham a 6-0 lead.

The two teams got into a battle for field position as the Jacket defense shut down Roseau, the Ram defense bent, but didn't break in the early going.

The tide turned in the second quarter when a long Roseau punt, pinning Perham deep in their own territory, was called back because of a penalty. The Jackets made Roseau pay for their mistake as Nick Dockter broke through the line to block the punt.

With an unsportsmanlike penalty called on the Ram bench, Perham was set up with a first and goal, but failed to convert.

Roseau took over, but couldn't get a first down and punted the ball from the endzone, giving Perham the ball back at the Ram 39.

Already set up with a short-field, a 27-yard pass from Marcus Hendrickson to Eric Weller put the ball at the 12-yard line, where Kiphuth went in from for his second TD.


After the Jacket defense forced another punting situation, special teams again took center stage as Perham took advantage of a bad snap and recovered the ball for another first and goal. This time, Mike Guehna converted the turnover into points with his three-yard scoring run, giving Perham a 18-0 halftime lead.

"Our punt block team and punt return team definitely provided a big momentum change," Kangas said. "Nick Dockter really laid out on that block and we almost got two other blocks. Every time they punted, something positive happened for us. Most of the time, it was things we created.

"We got some momentum," Kangas added. "We were able to capitalize on a short field and we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot."

The third quarter began with Hendrickson hitting Dockter on a 36-yard pass play, setting up a five-yard TD run by Mac Stoll to give Perham a 25-0 lead.

Roseau hooked up for a 36-yard pass play of their own to end the third quarter for their only score. In an earlier drive, Roseau faked a punt, resulting in a first down, but not a touchdown.

"Our defense really came through," Kangas said. "They made big plays all night and put us in a good situation to win the game."

Roseau managed just 31 yards on 35 attempts on the ground as the Jacket defense forced them out of their base offense into a passing game. The Rams were 9-for-25 through the air.

Perham, meanwhile, collected 244 yards in total offense, including 127 through the air as Hendrickson went 7-for-12 with no interceptions. Guehna led the Jackets with 33 yards on the ground.


Perham will now face their two toughest HOL opponents to close the season. They begin with a road trip to Pelican Rapids on Oct. 13.

The Vikings (5-1, 4-1 HOL) were ranked No. 3 in Class AA before a 32-26 loss at Breckenridge last week. The 2005 HOL champs will be looking stop their losing streak at one when the Jackets come to town this week.

"They have a good inside game, they have a good outside game, and they play pretty sound defense," Kangas said of Pelican Rapids. "It's really going to come down to playing a clean game. Little or no mistakes. Little or no penalties. Very few turnovers and sure tackles."

Pelican Rapids won last year's match-up, 21-12.

Perham will have a short week after playing Pelican Rapids, as they take on West Central Area (5-1, 4-1 HOL) at the FargoDome on Oct. 18.

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