Peterson, Hackel lead Perham to blowout victory over Park Rapids in playoff opener

Yellowjackets score in less than a minute seven times in the game.

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Josh Peterson (12) busts through the Park Rapids' secondary for one of his program-record four touchdowns Tuesday night in the 8AAA quarterfinal victory at Meinhover Field. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

Josh Peterson and Colton Hackel put up program-record performances and No. 3 Perham used a 30-point second quarter to blow open a 57-12 victory over No. 6 Park Rapids in the Section 8AAA football quarterfinal at Meinhover Field Tuesday, Nov. 17.

Park Rapids came out looking to eat up clock running down time between plays and got on the board twice early to challenge the Jackets.

Perham elected to receive the opening kickoff and stumbled out of the gates with a fumble on the first play from scrimmage and a pass on the second play ending up in the hands of Park Rapids’ Sam Reish at the Perham 45-yard line.

Perham defenders stopped the Panthers before getting to the red zone, turning Park Rapids over on downs but the offense punted the ball back on a three-and-out.

The Panthers ran six running plays trying to eat up more clock, the sixth being a 63-yard run by Reish for the only lead of the night for the visitors 6-0 after a blocked PAT kick at 2:53 of the first quarter.


The lead lasted all of a dozen seconds as Josh Peterson turned a pass from Hackel into a 55-yard touchdown. Peterson's first of four scores on the night tying Ty Moser for most touchdown receptions in a game. Moser scored four against Park Rapids Oct. 18, 2017.

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James Hartig (14) makes a reception on a 60-yard pass from quarterback Noah Morris in the first quarter of the Section 8AAA quarterfinal in Perham Tuesday, Nov. 17. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

The Panthers charged right back using a 60-yard connection between quarterback Noah Morris and James Hartig to get inside the Perham 10-yard line, but the Jackets stiffened getting the ball back at the six on downs.

On the first play from scrimmage, Hackel sprinted through the Panther line and 94 yards to the end zone for a 12-6 lead tying the third longest rush from scrimmage in Perham football history with Pete Guck (Sept. 12, 2002 against Frazee). Gavin Biegler holds the longest at 98 yards against Warroad Oct 15, 2008. Charlie Nelson is second with a 95-yarder against Barnesville in 1989.

Park Rapids responded with a 12-play, 65-yard drive eating up 6:13 on the clock to tie the game 12-12 on a 28-yard scoring run by Reish through the middle of the Perham defense.

With four minutes remaining in the first half, the game was far closer than anticipated, but Peterson and Hackel took care of that with three touchdowns in just over two minutes of play.


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Perham quarterback Colton Hackel (3) did a little bit of everything in Tuesday night's victory over Park Rapids shining on both sides of the ball. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

A 33-yard kick return by Hackel set the offense up at midfield and two plays later he found Peterson on a 30-yard touchdown pass taking the lead in 27 seconds 20-12.

Hackel intercepted Morris at the Panther 45-yard line and Perham cashed in 38 seconds later on a 17-yard run by Hackel. A two-point pass to Chas Melvin was good for a 28-12 lead.

Perham went for the jugular and recovered an onside kick at midfield to set up the final scoring drive of the first half.

Five plays and 31 seconds later, Hackel found Peterson on a 25-yard touchdown pass and Melvin scored the deuce to go to the break in command 36-12.

The Yellowjackets took care of business quickly in the third quarter.

Peterson scored his fourth TD of the game on a 15-yard pass to cap a five-play, 50-yard drive on Perham’s first possession of the second half to go up 44-12.

Gabe Thompson scored on a 68-yard pass from Hackel at 6:52 of the third quarter on the first play of Perham’s second drive that took all of 12 seconds.


The final score of the game came on the opening drive of the fourth quarter. Hackel rushed to the end zone but fumbled. The ball was recovered by Perham’s Austin Aanenson for the 57-12 final.

Hackel joined a list of Perham’s best quarterbacks in the modern era with five touchdown passes in a game, joining Ben Bucholz (at Pequot Lakes, Oct. 02, 2009) and Jordan Hein (at Park Rapids, Sept. 09, 2011). Jenson Beachy holds the record with six set against Park Rapids Oct. 18, 2017.

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Colton Hackel (3) makes a solo tackle of Sam Reish (5) with fellow Yellowjacket Rian Solberg (75) in a blowout victory to open the playoffs at home Tuesday. Robert Williams / Forum News Service

Perham had 458 total yards in the game, while Park Rapids put up a respectable 325.

The Panthers owned time of possession, 38 minutes to less than 10 for Perham (9:59), but the Jackets scored at will for two quarters barely needing more than 30 seconds with the ball to score on seven drives in the game.

Hackel led all rushers with 189 yards on 11 carries and was 10-17 passing for 246 yards with five TDs and one interception.

Peterson made five catches, four for touchdowns and 149 yards. Thompson had three grabs for 84 yards.


Brian Ramos led the Perham defense with nine tackles, five solo and one for a loss. Thompson, Hackel and Austin Schmelz all had seven tackles.

Reish led Park Rapids rushing 17 times for 136 yards and both touchdowns.

Perham is scheduled to play at No. 2 Pequot Lakes Saturday at 2 p.m., pending an announcement Wednesday by the Governor’s office on COVID-19 potentially affecting the remainder of the playoffs.

Perham 57, Park Rapids 12

PRA 6 6 0 0 - 12
PER 6 30 15 6 - 57

PRA - Sam Reish 63 run (kick blocked)

PER - Josh Peterson 55 pass from Colton Hackel (pass failed)


PER - Hackel 94 run (run failed)

PRA - Reish 28 run (pass failed)

PER - Peterson 30 pass from Hackel (Hackel rush)

PER - Hackel 17 run (Chas Melvin pass from Hackel)

PER - Peterson 25 pass from Hackel (Melvin pass from Hackel)

PER - Peterson 15 pass from Hackel (Hackel rush)

PER - Gabe Thompson 68 pass from Hackel (Hackel kick)

PER - Austin Aanenson fumble recovery (kick failed)


Robert Williams has been a sports editor for Forum Communications in Perham and Detroit Lakes since 2011.
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