by Scott DCamp
Thief River Falls’s defense held its second consecutive opponent to six points as the Prowlers improved to 1-1 on the season with a 7-6 win over Park Rapids Friday, Sept. 8.
“I’m so proud of the kids, they battled a lot of adversity and found a way to win,” said Head Coach Bryce Lingen, who notched his first win as Thief River Falls head coach.
One week after it allowed 266 yards of offense to Ottertail Central but limited the Bulldogs to six points, the Thief River Falls defensive unit upped its game and allowed just 182 yards, and came close to shutting out the Panthers.
“Our defense is what we are going to hang our hat on,” Lingen said. “We left some points off the board in the first half again but we’ll fix some things up.”
Much like their week one game, the Prowlers moved the ball well in the first half. The Prowlers began their first offensive possession in Panther territory. After eight plays and 36 yards, the opening drive ended at the one-yard line, as running back Ty Johnson was ruled down short of the endzone. The fourth down play also proved costly as Johnson was lost for the game with an ankle injury.
The Prowlers also began their third possession of the game inside the Park Rapids 40 yard line. This time, the Prowlers took advantage of the good field position with a seven-play, 36-yard drive that included a 19-yard pass from Brayden Johnson to Cameron Dahlin and culminated in a five-yard run by Josh Bernier.
The Prowler defense allowed Park Rapids to pick up one first down on the game’s opening drive before forcing two three and outs and a fumble that was recovered by the Prowlers at the Park Rapids 36 midway through the second quarter.
Starting inside the Park Rapids 40 for the third time in the half, Thief River Falls put together a 10-play drive that ended with an incomplete pass on fourth and 12 from the Park Rapids 14.
With a little over five minutes remaining in the first half, Park Rapids put together its first legitimate drive. The Panthers went 61 yards on 12 plays before their drive came to an end with an incomplete Jason Haas pass on a fourth and vie at the Thief River Falls 25.
Park Rapids threatened again on its first possession of the third quarter. The Panthers went 48 yards on 10 plays before that drive ended on a fourth and one inside the Thief River Falls 30-yard line.
On the ensuing drive, the Prowlers picked up a first down before a Brayden Johnson pass was intercepted by Park Rapids’ Zach Severtson and returned to the Thief River Falls 19-yard-line.
Seven plays later, Thief River Falls’ defense came up big, with Connor Swans forcing the first of four second half interceptions.
Much like it did in week one against OTC, the Prowlers struggled to move the ball in the second half. The Prowlers managed to pick up a couple of first downs on their first drive of the fourth quarter, following Swanson’s interception. Punting from his own 26-yard-line, Thief River Falls punter Noah Hayden mishandled the snap and tried to run for a first down before being dragged down at the 11-yard-line for a loss of 15 on the play.
This time, Park Rapids took advantage of the short field and scored on a four-play, 11-yard drive that culminated on a Tristin Persons one-yard touchdown run. The Panthers opted to go for two and the two-point pass from Haas was incomplete.
Thief River Falls failed to pick up a first down in its final four possessions. However, Hayden redeemed himself after the fumbled snap and pinned the Panthers back twice, with punts of 33 and 43 yards.
“Noah’s a hard worker, playing a lot of different positions for us,” Lingen said. “I couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful punt.”
The Prowler defense took it from there, forcing interceptions on Park Rapids’s final three possessions. Cornerback Ean Olson had two of the Prowlers’ four interceptions on the day, he had a third called back on a questionable pass interference penalty and dropped a fourth. Swanson and Dahlin recorded the other two picks.
1 2 3 4 T
Park Rapids 0 7 0 0 7
TRF 0 0 0 6 6
TRF – Josh Bernier 5-yard run (Alexander Grant kick).
PR – Tristin Persons 1-yard run (Pass failed).
n First downs – PR – 9; TRF – 8.
n Fumbles (total-lost) – PR – 2-1; TRF 1-0.
n Penalties (number-yards) – PR 3-19; TRF 5-34.
n Punts (number-average) – PR 2-31.5; TRF 4-34.7.
n Rushing (attempts-yards) – PR 34-146; TRF 47-129.
n Passing – PR 6-of-18, 36 yards, 4 interceptions; TRF 4-of-13, 49 yards, interception.
n Total yards – PR-182 ; TRF-178
n Rushing – (PR) Jason Haas 17-54; Tristin Persons 15-58, touchdown; Zach Severtson 5-47 (TRF) Josh Bernier 23-84; Myles Johnson 13-56.
n Passing – (PR) Jason Haas 6-of-18, 36 yards, 4 interceptions; Brayden Johnson 4-of-13, 49 yards, interception.
n Receiving – (PR) Severtson 2-13; Persons 2-9; Spencer Fritze 1-11; Cameron Hoyt 1-3.; (TRF) Cameron Dahlin 2-41; Cade Lundeen 1-5; Myles Johnson 1-3.