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Otters use second half surge to victory over Perham

Perham's Ty Moser sprints away from Fergus Falls' Nathan Zierden for his second touchdown of the game. Jason Groth/FOCUS

After watching the Perham Yellowjackets use razzle-dazzle to take a first half lead, the Fergus Falls Otters went to the ground and pounded out 28 second half points, pulling away for a 35-20 victory over the Yellowjackets on Sept. 29 in Perham.

The power running of Aaron Billings along with the speed of Nathan Rund took control of the game in the second half. Billings finished with three touchdown runs, two in the fourth quarter, helping the Otters seal the win.

“I didn’t like the result of it. They are a good squad. They took advantage of some things that we were doing wrong,” Perham head coach Kyle Knutson said. “We made some corrections, but it didn’t go our way at the end.”

The big night from Billings spoiled a strong first half from the Yellowjackets. The Yellowjackets showcased their ability to strike with the quick play.

“We have a great offense and our guys can put up points,” Knutson said. “Credit to their guys, they made some adjustments and we had some bad breaks go our way on both sides of the ball and when they capitalize on that, it makes it tough.”

The Yellowjackets set a new school record for longest touchdown from line of scrimmage when Jenson Beachy hit a streaking Martin LaFond for a 92-yard score, giving Perham the 12-0 lead in the first half. That was the second of Beachy’s two touchdown passes in the game. He opened the first quarter with a 35-yard connection to Ty Moser, giving the Yellowjackets the early lead.

After a Billings plunge, Perham struck with some razzle-dazzle. Beachy hit LaFond, behind the line scrimmage, who fired it to Moser, who made a fingertip grab and beat the defense into the end zone for a 49-yard score, making it 20-7 after Moser converted the 2-point conversion.

The Yellowjackets took momentum into the half when Tanner Knutson intercepted Harrison Christensen as time expired. It was the second interception of the game by the Yellowjackets. Martin LaFond ended a drive in the first quarter with a pick as well.

The Otters started the second half with a statement drive. They ate up the clock and converted a big fourth down when Christensen hit Rund. Christensen finished the drive when he rushed into the end zone from seven yards out, making it 20-14.

The Otters capitalized on an interception by Matthew Johnson. They turned the turnover into points when Christensen hit Marshall King over the middle, making it 21-14 with the 27-yard score.

Billings took over in the fourth quarter, rushing for touchdowns from five yards out and a yard out, extending the Otter lead to 15.

“He is an athlete and we have athletes too,” Knutson said. “It’s frustrating when we come out on this side of the game.”

Fergus Falls improves to 4-1 overall on the season and 4-0 in the Midwest Red Division. The Yellowjackets suffer their first defeat and fall to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Midwest Red Division.

“We are going to study film, figure out where our breakdown is and we are going to fix it,” Knutson said. “We are a good squad. I told our guys to keep their heads up. We are going to show up on Monday getting ready to work and prepare for the rest of the season. This game doesn’t define who we are as a team by any means. I made sure to hammer that home to the kids. Hopefully, they take it to heart, study some film and show up on Monday ready to work.”

The Yellowjackets return to action on Friday, Oct. 6 when they travel to East Grand Forks to take on the Green Wave at 7 p.m. East Grand Forks is 2-3 overall, coming off a 13-6 victory over Thief River Falls.

For full stats and more, check out Thursday's edition of the Perham Focus

FF 0 7 14 14--35

PER 6 14 0 0--20

First Quarter

PER: Jenson Beachy 35-yard pass to Ty Moser (conversion failed)

Second Quarter

PER: Beachy 92-yard pass to Martin LaFond (conversion failed)

FF: Aaron Billings 1-yard run (Noah Raitz kick)

PER: LaFond 49-yard pass to Moser (Moser run)

Third Quarter

FF: Harrison Christensen 7-yard run (Raitz kick)

FF: Christensen 27-yard pass to Marshall King (Raitz kick)

Fourth Quarter

FF: Billings 5-yard run (Raitz kick)

FF: Billings 1-yard run (Raitz kick)

Jason Groth

 Groth is a Minnesota Newspaper Association award-winning Sports Editor of the Perham Focus and the Wadena Pioneer Journal. Groth worked in Grand Rapids as the Sports Director at KOZY/KMFY radio for two years and prior to that he was the Sports Editor/Writer for the Grand Rapids Herald-Review for seven years. 

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