Perham football came up just short in what would turn out to be a very tight game against the Fergus Falls Otters, falling 13-7 on a rainy Friday night in Perham.
The Yellowjackets received the ball to start the game, but were forced to punt after going three and out on their first possession, setting the Otters up with good field position. The Yellowjackets defense came out looking real stout, forcing a three and out of their own and an Otters punt.
Perham would go on to fumble the ball on the ensuing possession, once again setting the Otters up with good field position.
Fergus Falls moved the ball deep into the red zone, and looked like they might be the first team on the scoreboard. Yellowjackets senior defensive back Chas Melvin jumped a Carter Thielke pass in the end zone and tacked on a long return to cap off the 56-yard interception. Yellowjackets quarterback Colton Hackel scored on a 43 yard run the next play. The extra point put Perham up 7-0.
The Otters would answer back just a couple drives later with a 76-yard drive, Tielke broke free for a 37-yard rushing touchdown from T. An extra point tied the game 7-7.
After a stalled Perham drive, the Otters got the ball back one more time before half and marched down into the red zone again. After a seven-yard run from Thielke set the Otters up with fourth and goal at the Yellowjackets' three- yard line, Perham stuffed the run, bringing the game into halftime tied 7-7.
The Otters started the second half off by receiving the ball, and marching it down into Yellowjackets territory, before the Perham defense once again stepped up and caused another turnover. This time it came from a Melvin fumble recovery and 15-yard return.
This set the Yellowjackets up with first and 10 on their own 46 yard line. A costly penalty on third and one on the 26 yard line would move the Yellowjackets back to their own 31 yard line, setting up a fourth and 6 that would prove to be too much to pick up, turning the ball over to the Otters on downs.
The Otters then marched the ball 79 yards down field, capping the drive off with a 55-yard touchdown run from sophomore Griffin Babolian with 4:19 seconds left in the third quarter. The Otters missed the extra point attempt, giving them a six-point lead.
The game moved into the fourth quarter. A stalled Otters' drive and punt would down the Yellowjackets on their own 31-yard line. Perham started on what would be their last drive of the game.
The Yellowjackets looked like they cooked up the perfect play to shift the momentum when Hackel drillied Junior Noah Thompson on a beautiful deep ball down the far right sideline. However, an offsetting pass interference and ineligible man downfield penalties nullified the play. The Otters would seal the game in their favor on the next play. Fergus' Sam Sorum jumped a route and came up with a game-sealing interception.
“We knew what we were getting ourselves into tonight,” said Perham head coach Aron Velde. “We’re a running team, so wet weather doesn't bother us at all. I thought our defense played really well tonight, we had some huge plays that kept us in the game. Offensively, we just had issues executing tonight. That's the way football is sometimes. I thought we had great prep this week.”
The Yellowjackets offense finished the game with 133 total yards on the ground and 24 yards in the air. Colton Hackel finished the game as both Perham’s leading passer and rusher.
He went 3-for-9 on pass attempts for 24 yards. He finished with 31 total rush attempts for 93 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well.
Thielke finished 5-for-11 on pass attempts for 57 yards in the air, and 20 rushing attempts for 127 yards and a touchdown. Babolian would also contribute on the ground, taking 12 carries for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Perham (3-2) will travel to take on undefeated Osakis (5-0) for their next game Friday, Oct. 8.
“Every week is a reset, and now we have to reset and get ready for a really tough Osakis team,” Velde said.