Familiar foes square off in Pequot Lakes
It comes as no surprise that the Perham Yellowjackets and the Pequot Lakes Patriots would be squaring off in the Section 8AAA playoffs for the third straight season. The Patriots earned the No. 2 seed with their 29-28 regular season victory over Perham and gained home field advantage for Saturday's clash.
The two teams have ended each others' season the last two years. Perham defeated Pequot Lakes 54-33 in the Section 8AAA semifinals on their way to the Section 8AAA Championship in 2018, while Pequot Lakes defeated Perham 56-22 in the Section 8AAA Championship in 2017.
This year's regular season contest was played on a rain-soaked Thursday night in Perham with both teams struggling to control the football. In that game, both teams combined to fumble 11 times, with each team losing one. However, Saturday's forecast of mid-50's at kickoff and clear skies means that weather should not play a factor in the outcome of the game.
In the first meeting, Pequot Lakes pitched a first half shut out and built a 16-0 lead, only to see the Yellowjackets rally back in the second half and take a 28-22 lead before the game's final drive which ended with a Cale Wolf pass to Bode Magnusson and Daltin Ackerman's extra point.
Wolf completed 16 of 25 passes for 210 yards and three scores for the Patriots in the win, while Zach Jorgens rushed for 56 yards on 16 carries.
The Yellowjackets were led by Dawson Kellogg's 129 yards rushing on 21 carries and two touchdowns. Colton Hackel finished with 97 yards rushing and passed for 97 yards. However, Finn Diggins has played quarterback the past two games with Hackel nursing an injury. The Yellowjackets hope to have Hackel back in some form for Saturday's clash.
Diggins led the Yellowjackets to a 60-18 victory over Roseau in his second start at quarterback. He completed 14 of his 22 pass attempts for 190 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Kellogg rushed for 130 yards and two scores in the win, while Diggins rushed for 77 yards and a score.
It wasn't as comfortable for the Patriots in their quarterfinal victory. The Patriots had to hold on late as they pulled out a 21-20 victory over Park Rapids Area . Wolf completed a pair of touchdown passes, one to Magnusson and one to Ackerman in the win.
It will be a big test for the Perham defense which has allowed 23.4 points per game to the opposition. The Yellowjackets have allowed 173 yards per game on the ground, while allowing 150.2 yards per game through the air. The Yellowjackets have forced 21 turnovers while committing 17 of their own.
For the season, Hackel has passed for 1,146 yards and 15 touchdowns with just two interceptions. Diggins has passed for 319 yards with three touchdowns and two picks. Noah Rooney leads the team in receiving with 37 receptions for 537 yards. Diggins has 29 receptions for 417 yards.
Hackel and Kellogg lead the ground attack for Perham. Hackel has rushed for 1,005 yards on 138 carries, while Kellogg has rushed for 585 yards on 124 carries.
Defensively, Isaac Lung leads the team in tackles with 51. He has four for a loss. Brian Ramos has 49 total tackles and two fumble recoveries. Diggins leads the team with seven sacks, while Isaac VanWatermulen has four. Maddux Kovash has three of them, while Caleb Lung has two. Hackel and Rooney led the team in interceptions with two each. Gareth Covington leads the team with seven pass break ups.