FB: Park Rapids upends Perham in Section 8AAA quarterfinals

Perham-When the game was on the line, the Park Rapids Area Panthers called on senior Jordan Yliniemi. The senior rushed for 156 yards, including the game winning touchdown with 2:10 remaining, helping Park Rapids to a 34-28 victory over the Perha...

Perham-When the game was on the line, the Park Rapids Area Panthers called on senior Jordan Yliniemi.

The senior rushed for 156 yards, including the game winning touchdown with 2:10 remaining, helping Park Rapids to a 34-28 victory over the Perham Yellowjackets at the Ted Meinhover Field in Perham.

“That was a big team win for us. No one guy won this game for us. Our offensive line was firing off the ball the whole game and our running backs were running hard,” Yliniemi said. “(My) hat is off to our secondary picking off two passes and getting a fumble recovery. That is awesome.”

Both teams had an answer for each other’s swings in the contest. However, it was the Panthers that answered late, converting a Perham turnover into points.

“I knew it was going to be a punch, counterpunch kind of game,” Park Rapids Area Head Coach Aaron Morris said. “Both teams are physical and both teams are good. “I knew it was going to come down to the last possession. It was a fun game, that is what post-season is about. It’s a fun rivalry with Perham.”


Isaac Kosel’s fourth quarter interception set up the game winning drive for the Panthers. Kosel returned the interception to the Perham 21 yard line, setting up the game winning score.

“They are a good team. Things went there way and they are a solid program,” Perham Head Coach Kyle Knutson said. “I wish them the best of luck.”

Yliniemi carried the ball four times on the five play drive, with the fourth one going around the edge and into the end zone from 8 yards out. It was his fourth touchdown of the game.

“I can’t remember right now, there are so many emotions over me right now,” Yliniemi said. “I was thinking that we have to get this. It feels awesome right now. I didn’t want my season to end tonight, and I know the rest of the guys didn’t either. (My hat is off to them and to Perham for putting up a battle.”

Yliniemi was quick to give credit to his offensive line, which opened up holes for him up front.

“Those guys are awesome. They put in the work in the offseason,” Yliniemi said. “I am just impressed with those guys and what they accomplished this year.”

Morris noticed that Yliniemi’s confidence level has been improving the past couple of games and that carried into the playoff game.

“The last couple of games he has been running with confidence. He has been running hard and is a hard guy to take down,” Morris said. “When we give him the ball, I know we are going to get three to five yards, 90 percent of the time.”


Yliniemi started the scoring for the Panthers in the first quarter with a 17 yard sprint, lifting the Panthers to a 6-0 lead.

Perham quickly answered with a big run of its own. Chandler Rach broke free off the edge, sprinted 61 yards for the score, evening the game at six, after both teams failed on the two point conversion.

Jake Dickinson answered for Park Rapids with a 1 yard touchdown plunge. Yliniemi converted the two point try, lifting Park Rapids to the 14-6 lead.

Once again, the Yellowjackets answered. Tyler Berby capped off an 85 yard drive, with a 3 yard touchdown run. The drive featured two big pass plays for the Yellowjackets. Dylan Perrine connected with Andrew Hanson for 28 yards and Rach for 30 yards. Berby rushed in the conversion, evening the game at 14.

Berby added his second touchdown of the game in the closing seconds of the second quarter. He rushed in from a yard out, lifting Perham to a 20-14 lead.

Yliniemi responded in the third quarter for the Panthers. He scampered in from a yard out, tying the game at 20.

The Panthers turned a Yellowjacket turnover into points, when Yliniemi scampered into the end zone with a 2 yard run. He converted the try, making it 28-20.

Joe Lorenson’s ensuing 65 yard kickoff return set the Yellowjackets up in great shape. The Yellowjackets took advantage of the short field with Tanner Berby finishing the drive off with a 4 yard score. Tyler Berby rushed in the two point conversion.


However, a late Perham interception set up Yliniemi’s game winning touchdown. It was the third turnover forced by the Panther defense in the second half.

“We challenged them in the second half, what team was going to show up in the second half? The defense stepped up,” Morris said. “I knew what these guys had, so I was very proud of them.”

Yliniemi led the way for the Panthers on the ground with 156 yards and four touchdowns. Matt Bade added 43 yards rushing, while Ben Garcelon finished with 29 yards rushing.

Perham’s Tyler Berby finished with two rushing touchdowns and 78 yards rushing. Rach finished the game with 70 yards on three carries with one touchdown. Tanner Berby rushed for 27 yards on eight carries.

Perrine finished the game with 14 yards rushing, while passing for 68 yards. Rach had one reception for 30 yards, while Hanson had one for 28. Reid Moser had a reception and 10 yards receiving.

“It came down to the line of scrimmage. We were fairly even there I thought,” Knutson said. “They just had more points when the time ran out.”

The loss marks the end of the season for the Yellowjackets and the end of the high school year for 16 seniors.

“They are an outstanding group of young men. I told every one of them how much I loved them. The coaching staff all said the same thing,” Knutson said. “They are surely going to be missed. I’m proud of our kids and what they have put into the program. I’m proud of the coaching staff of the work that they put in. It’s just sad that it has to be over.”

The Yellowjackets finish the season with a 4-5 record overall.


PRA 6 8 6 14-34

PER 6 14 0 8-28

First Quarter

PR- Jordan Yliniemi 17 yard run (conversion failed)

PER- Chandler Rach 61 yard run (conversion failed)

Second Quarter

PR-Jake Dickinson 1 yard run (Yliniemi run)

PER- Tyler Berby 3 yard run (Berby run)

PER- Berby 1 yard run (conversion failed)

Third Quarter

PR-Yliniemi 1 yard run (conversion failed)

Fourth Quarter

PR-Yliniemi 2 yard run (Yliniemi run)

PER- Tanner Berby 4 yard run (Tyler Berby run)

PR-Yliniemi 8 yard run (conversion failed)

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