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Late touchdown lifts Perham football past Park Rapids

Perham's Reid Moser uses the stiff arm to gain some extra yardage after a reception. Jason Groth/FOCUS

Last year, the Perham Yellowjackets consistently found themselves on the wrong side of the scoreboard in close games. This year, the Yellowjackets have turned the tide on their opposition. The Yellowjackets avenged last year's postseason loss to the Park Rapids Area Panthers with a 27-26 victory at the Ted Meinhover Field for homecoming on Sept. 30.

"I like being on this end of it a lot better. Our kids came out defensively and kept them out of the end zone in the second half," Perham head coach Kyle Knutson said. "Again, the kids triumphed over adversity and I am proud of them."

After an explosive first half, Jack DeConcini's 16-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was the difference. It was the only points put on the board by either team in the second half, after the teams combined for 47 first half points.

It appeared that the Yellowjackets were going to run away with the game after the first three minutes of the first quarter. Perham moved the ball quickly on Park Rapids, who was looking to bounce back from a 47-0 loss to Detroit Lakes. The Yellowjackets capped off an opening drive with a 30-yard run by DeConcini, giving Perham the 7-0 lead after Hunter Ditterich hit the extra point.

The defense helped the Yellowjackets get the ball back right away when Logan Richter recovered a fumble. The fumble recovery set up a quick score for the Yellowjackets. Jenson Beachy hit Anthony Dahl for a 33-yard touchdown, giving Perham an early 14-0 lead.

"Our goal was to come out and set the tone and they did," Knutson said. "I think our guys ran out of gas and their guys ran out of gas. But, they had more in the tank. We came back a different team in the second half."

The Panthers came alive late in the first quarter when Jake Dickinson connected with Jason Haas for a 54 yard touchdown, making it 14-7 after the extra point.

The tide turned quickly for the Panthers in the second quarter. It started with a 10 yard touchdown run by Zach Severtson, which tied the game at 14. Park Rapids' defense struck on the ensuing possession when Beachy's pass was intercepted by Justin Dravis, who returned it 27 yards for the score, making it 20-14 after a failed extra point.

Perham struck back with the power running attack. The drive was capped off on a 5-yard run by Zach Peterson, making it 21-20 after the extra point.

"When things aren't going well, they step up," Knutson said. "They face adversity very well and I'm proud of them."

Once again, the Panthers had a first half answer. On fourth down, Tristin Persons broke free, scampering 52 yards for the score, giving Park Rapids a 26-21 halftime lead.

It was a defensive struggle in the second half, with neither team much traction in the second half. Josh Jeziorski recovered a fumble in the third quarter, halting a Park Rapids Area drive, setting up the eventual go-ahead score.

DeConcini carried the ball 10 times on the go ahead drive, with the 10th carry going 16 yards for the touchdown. The 2-point try was no good.

Perham's Roo Schmitz put the finishing touches on the game, recovering a Park Rapids fumble, securing the win for the Yellowjackets.

Check out Thursday's edition of the Perham Focus for more from this game.

Park Rapids 7 19 0 0--26

Perham 14 7 0 6--27

First Quarter

PER: Jack DeConcini 30 yard run (Hunter Ditterich kick)

PER: Jenson Beachy 33 yard pass to Anthony Dahl (Ditterich kick)

PR: Jake Dickinson 54 yard pass to Jason Haas (kick good)

Second Quarter

PR: Zach Severtson 10 yard run (kick good)

PR: Justin Dravis 27 yard interception return (kick failed)

PER: Zach Peterson 5 yard run (Ditterich kick)

PR: Tristin Persons 52 yard run (pass failed)

Fourth Quarter

PER: DeConcini 16 yard run (conversion failed)

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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