Thief River Falls’ season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion Tuesday night, with a 22-19 loss to the Green Wave from East Grand Forks.
The Prowlers had erased most of what had been a 13-point halftime deficit, when they snapped the ball on the games final play. Down by three, quarterback Cade Lundeen’s pass fell incomplete to allow East Grand Forks to advance to play top-seeded Pequot Lakes on Saturday.
Head Coach Bryce Lingen said he was disappointed with the outcome of the game, but proud of his team’s resiliency.
“We had a rough second quarter with a few mistakes that EGF capitalized on,” Lingen said. “That's part of football though, we've talked about overcoming adversity all year, and our kids response in the second half was exactly what we expected and am very, very proud of their effort.”
“Our defense really played well, as the two scores we did give up on defense came off of short fields,” Lingen added. “Their score to go up 19-6 came on a fourth and six from the 25. The big difference was special teams as they had the kick return, which was a big momentum breaker for us after we had a great run by Teagan and then their field goal ended up being the difference on the scoreboard.”
This was Thief River Falls’ second head-to-head battle with East Grand Forks this season. The teams met on Sept. 29, with East Grand Forks winning a defensive battle 13-6.
Tuesday’s game appeared to be headed down the same low-scoring path with a scoreless first quarter. That changed in the second quarter starting with Ethan Trebil scoring on a three-yard run to put the Green Wave up 6-0.
The Prowlers answered with a 53-yard run by Teagan Kruckeberg to tie the game 6-6.
East Grand Forks regained the lead on the ensuing kickoff as Justin Kallock sprinted 85 yards for the score.
East Grand Forks scored again before the half on a 25 yard pass from Carter Beck to Trebil to make it 19-6.
Thief River Falls began to cut into the East Grand Forks lead in the third quarter, with Josh Bernier scoring on an 11-yard run.
The Green Wave answered with a field goal by Rudy Juarez early in the fourth quarter to push the lead back to nine points.
Thief River Falls cut the lead to three with a 13-play drive that was capped by a one-yard run by Cade Lundeen.
The Prowlers had a chance to take the lead on their next possession but instead turned the ball over on downs with just over two minutes left to play.
After a defensive stop, the Prowlers got the ball back on their own 22. They got close to midfield to set up the game’s final play.
“Offensively we really started moving the ball in the second half and kept EGF guessing as we rotated both Grant [Hartmann] and Cade [Lundeen],” Lingen said. “Grant connected on a huge fourth down conversion with Ean Olson who made a spectacular catch falling to the ground that led to Josh’s score on the next play. Not sure if it was Connor Swanson or Kyle Miller who had a huge pancake block on that run, but it really showed just how much fight this team has.
“On our last scoring drive Grant had some big runs and connected with Aaron Bruggeman, who had an Odell Beckham like catch to set up Cade's 1 yard plunge on fourth down. We've asked all year for kids to step up and make plays and we got that tonight. Unfortunately for us, they made a few more plays, which was the difference.”
Lingen said he is sad to see the season end but proud of how the team matured and came together both on and off the field.
“We are surely going to miss the seniors and all the leadership they showed,” Lingen said. “They set a good
example to our younger players as day in and day out they brought a positive attitude and great work ethic to the field. They kept working and kept giving a little bit more which is all we could ask for. We are excited to see who is going to step up for next year. Now we need the underclassmen to continue getting into the weight room and keep working on that strength and speed. We have to get better in both areas if we plan to compete for the section championship next year, which is always our goal.”
1 2 3 4 T
TRF 0 6 7 6 19
EGF 0 19 0 3 22
EGF – Ethan Trebil 3-yard run (run failed)
TRF – Teagan Kruckeberg 53-yard run (pass failed)
EGF – Justin Kallock 85-yard kickoff return (Rudy Juarez kick)
EGF – Trebil 25-yard pass from Carter Beck (kick failed)
TRF – Josh Bernier 11-yard run (Alex Grant kick)
EGF – Juarez 30-yard field goal
TRF – Cade Lundeen 1-yard run (pass failed)
Rushing – (TRF) Teagan Kruckeberg 5-74; Josh Bernier 25-52; Grant Hartmann 5-32; Myles Johnson 5-17; Cade Lundeen 6-8.
Passing – (TRF) Cade Lundeen 2-for-4, 40 yards; Grant Hartmann 5-for-6, 72 yards, interception.
Receiving – (TRF) Josh Berneir 3-36; Ean Olson 2-47; Aaron Bruggeman 1-22, Cameron Dahlin 1-7.
Tackles – (TRF) Connor Swanson 8, Cameron Dahlin 7, Ty Johnson 7, Jarin Newland 6.