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'We never gave up:' Yellowjackets stun Detroit Lakes with a lateral play for the win

Late Perham touchdown with shocks Detroit Lakes on Friday night. Lakers fall to 2-2 while Perham moves to 3-1.

The word "unforgettable" is thrown around too often in sports. But what happened at Ted Meinhover Field in Perham on Friday night was not only unforgettable but was borderline unfathomable.

Trailing 27-23, Perham senior quarterback Colton Hackel threw a short pass to Josh Peterson. Peterson then pitched the ball to Levi Richter, who ran 52-yards to the end zone for the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left in the game. The hook-and-ladder play sealed Perham's first win over Detroit Lakes since the 2017-18 season by a final score of 30-27.

"I don't really know how it feels because I can't really feel anything," Hackel said. "It feels awesome. I can't describe it. To get this win means so much. We lost my freshman, sophomore and junior years. I don't even know how to explain what it means to win. And to do it like that, it's just something."

"The plan was to get a quick hitter out of bounds to set it up," Hackel said. "As long as we stopped the clock, that's the play we were going to call. It ended up working. Great play call by our coach and great execution."

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Colton Hackel runs for his first of three touchdowns on Sept. 24, 2021 in Perham's 30-27 win over Detroit Lakes. (Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

The Yellowjackets' final drive of the game was only part of the madness. With 3:29 left in the fourth quarter, the Lakers got the ball back after taking over on downs on their own 31-yard line. Senior quarterback Bradly Swiers found sophomore Mason Carrier on a 28-yard play-action pass to cross midfield.

Perham forced a fourth-and-long play on Detroit Lakes' next set of downs before Sweirs evaded the pocket and scrambled for a first down. Dancing another fourth-down situation, Swiers threw a jump ball to Christian Solberg on the three-yard line to keep the drive alive.

"It really showed the kid's grit," Lakers' head coach Reed Hefta said of Swiers. "I couldn't be more proud of a young man for going out there and taking every hit and leading our team the way he does. Christian Solberg was out there too, and he laid it out on the line for us. Both of them left it all out there."

"I have nothing but faith in these guys in moments like those," Hefta said. "I know that this is something I'd call ten times out of ten. We put our trust in our guys."

After a short run to pull within inches of the goal line, Swiers capped off his most impressive drive of the season with a one-yard touchdown run.

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With just 33 seconds left on the clock, Hackel was focused on being the leader his team needed after giving up what most people believed was a back-breaking touchdown to a rival school.

"It's hard to keep your hopes up in moments like that," Hackel said. "You have to try and keep encouraging the team. You have to try and be a leader. It just comes down to making plays. That's it. We were in this spot two years ago in the section championship. We just had to make plays, and these guys made big plays."

In the 2019 Section 8AAA title game between Perham and Dillworth-Glyndon-Felton, Hackel tossed a game-winning touchdown to Noah Rooney with 11 seconds remaining. This time, the hero was Richter, who had one thing in mind when the hitch-and-pitch play was called in the final hour.

"All I kept telling myself was to 'house this. Just house this,'" Richter said. "Our coaches always tell us to run all the way through. I didn't give up. I sprinted the whole way. I couldn't even believe it when the game ended. I had to sit on the ground because I thought it was a dream."

Ty Jones (18) calls for a pass in the first quarter in Detroit Lakes' 30-27 loss to Perham on Sept. 24, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

The Perham players rushed the field to grab "The Paddle," which is the traveling trophy that goes to the winner of this game each season. For players like Richter, it's what high school football is all about.

"My brother, Logan Richter, got it once," Richter said. "It's been my dream to get it back to this community. I think this shows how much this squad has improved. We have a bunch of dogs. They fought the entire game. We never gave up."

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The game couldn't have started worse for the Yellowjackets. Hackel attempted a fourth-and-long pass from midfield that was picked off by Solberg. The senior defensive back returned it to the nine-yard-line, which set up a touchdown pass from Swiers to Mason Carrier in Detroit Lakes' first offensive play of the game.

Perham answered every Detroit Lakes touchdown on Friday night. Hackel led the Yellowjackets down the field before scampering into the end zone from 18-yards out. Hackel, who had three rushing touchdowns on Friday, gave all the credit to the offensive line in front of him.

"I couldn't be more thankful for them," Hackel said of his offensive line. "It's a lot harder than what I have to do. I got major respect for my boys. Maybe I'll take them out to eat or something."

Late in the first quarter, Mason Carrier found the end zone again after breaking off a 20-yard run. Despite his night ending prematurely with an injury on the play-action pass play late in the fourth quarter, Carrier's hard-nosed running sparked a struggling Detroit Lakes offense early on.

Chas Melvin (right) braces for a hit at the line of scrimmage on Sept 24, 2021 in Perham's 30-27 win over Detroit Lakes. (Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

"He's a kid that's going to give you everything he's got," Hefta said. "It's unfortunate he got dinged up there at the end. People need to realize how tenacious this kid is. He's going to be hard on himself because he wasn't out there at the end. But he put it all out on the line, and it's a tough break."

The Yellowjackets took a 15-12 lead with 12 seconds before halftime after Hackel's second rushing score of the game. It was a play that came in the middle of an offensive lull for the Lakers. Detroit Lakes went five drives without a first down, including a kneel-down before the end of the first half.

Junior Ethan Carrier provided Detroit Lakes with a spark late in the third quarter. He broke off a 29-yard rushing touchdown to take a 19-15 lead.

"It's really fun to see kids like Ethan go out there and play so well," Hefta said. "At the end of the day, they put in so much work behind the scenes and in the offseason. They do everything we ask them to do. It's fun to see him be that gamechanger."

Like he had done twice before, Hackel answered with another rushing touchdown of his own. He broke several tackles before spiraling into the end zone to shift the lead for the fifth time.

The Lakers celebrate Christian Solberg;s first quarter interception in Detroit Lakes' 30-27 loss to Perham on Sept. 24, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune) square

Perham had chances to ice the game in the fourth quarter. Hackel missed a 25-yard field goal with under eight minutes left before turning the ball over on downs to set up Detroit Lakes' big drive. The Laker defense wasn't as sharp as it had been in recent weeks, but it got two big stops when the team needed it most.

When it's all said and done, this game will be remembered for one play.

"It's a high-intensity game, and kids are flying all over the place," Hefta said. "They got the better of us today. When you play with that emotion like we did today, you have to make sure you play sound. I think we were sound in a lot of things, but when it came down to missed tackles and being in a position to make a play, they got the better of us."

Bradly Swiers lofts a jump pass in the first half of Detroit Lakes 30-27 loss to Perham on Sept. 24, 2021. (Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune) portrait

DETROIT LAKES 12 0 7 8 - 27

PERHAM 7 8 8 7 - 30

FIRST QUARTER- DETROIT LAKES- Swiers 9-yard TD pass to M. Carrier, two-point conversion no good. 6-0, 3:20; PERHAM- Hackel 18-yard TD run, Hackel PAT good, 7-6, 16:23; DETROIT LAKES- M. Carrier 20-yard TD run, two-point conversion no good, 12-7, 9:21; SECOND QUARTER- PERHAM- Hackel 4-yard TD run, Hackel two-point conversion good, 15-12, 11:48; THIRD QUARTER- DETROIT LAKES- E. Carrier 29-yard TD run, Evan Thomas PAT good, 19-15, 8:47; PERHAM- Hackel 24-yard TD run, Hudson Hackel two-point conversion, 23-19, 11:44; FOURTH QUARTER- DETROIT LAKES- Swiers 1-yard TD run, Swiers two-point conversion pass to Hunter Korth, 27-23, 11:27; PERHAM- Hackel short pass to Peterson, lateral to Richter, runs 52 yards TD,Hackel PAT good, 30-27, 11:47

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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