The Blackduck Drakes football team fell 58-8 to the host Pine River-Backus Tigers Friday Oct. 3.
The Tigers used their ground game effectively running for over 300 yards in traditional Pine River fashion. The Drakes lone touchdown came on a Justin Bryant reception from Mike Dexter with two seconds remaining in the game. James Campbell-Eckdahl ran in the two point conversion to give Blackduck their eight points.
The Drakes received the opening kick off but were forced to punt. The Tigers set up their offense near midfield and scored in eight plays with senior wrestler Levi Allen picking up 49 rushing yards on the drive and scoring the touchdown. The conversion pass gave the hosts a quick 8-0 lead.
Todd Kallroos had a 20 yard kick return to set the Drakes offense up at the 30 yard line. Nick Andreas found running room behind the blocking efforts of Nick Liapis, Jordan Oelke, Al Goodwin, Garrette Roberts, Zach Preston, Jake Olafson and Lucas Krabbenhoft to pick up seven yards on first down.
That gain brought about a Tiger defensive change that concentrated on stopping Andreas the rest of the game which allowed Dexter and Kallroos to run more effectively. The Drakes picked up a first down on a pass interference penalty but a lost fumble gave the ball back to the Tigers.
Allen scored again on the sixth play of their drive which included a 22 yard catch by senior Mitchell Kline. Coach Hickman commented that missed defensive assignments allowed some stinging pass completions. The defensive line of Preston, Olafson, Oelke, Doug Palmer and Liapis slowed the march but could not hold for four downs. The two point conversion made it 14-0.
A pair of incomplete passes ended the next Blackduck offensive and they were forced to punt. Allen brought the return back to the 14 yard and two plays later the Tigers tallied another touchdown to take a 22-0 first quarter lead.
On the fourth play of the second quarter the hosts made it 28-0. The Drakes picked up a first down with Kallroos carrying but then had their punt blocked. On the Tigers second play Allen raced to 15 yard line before Campbell-Eckdahl dragged him down.
The Drakes defense put up a strong stand in the red zone as defensive backs Kallroos, Andreas, Butch Strand, Alex Lossing, Dexter, and Campbell-Eckdahl picked up their intensity. Peter Fraley, Goodwin, and Josh RedDay were also in on some of the defensive action. The good defensive effort returned the ball to the offense and Dexter completed passes to Lossing, Fraley, and Kallroos to move the ball all the way to the Tiger 35 yard line. A failed quarterback keep on fourth and one returned the ball to the Tigers who ran out the clock making the half time score 28-0.
The Tigers brought the second half kick back to the 14 yard line and Allen ran it in on the first play from scrimmage. He also caught the conversion pass and the hosts were up 36-0. A fumble gave the hosts the ball again and Allen scampered in from 20 yards out and then blasted through for the conversion and suddenly the score was 44-0. The best news for the Drakes at this point was when Tiger Coach Randy Schwegel removed Allen from the game along with the rest of his first unit.
Drakes Head Coach Jesse Hickman also substituted freely with freshmen and sophomores seeing a lot of action in the third and, especially, the fourth quarter. Freshmen getting into action were Brad Kusper, Kip Solberg, Brady Gross, Cory Bryant, and Zach Jones.
The Pine River youngsters were able to score twice, taking advantage of three Blackduck turnovers, while the Drakes used a 16 yard kick return by Strand to set up their lone scoring drive as the clock ran out. A 27 yard reception by Kusper and a 21 yard scramble by Dexter were the big plays of the drive while Solberg added a two yard run. Justin Bryant pulled in the three yard touchdown pass from Dexter and then Campbell-Eckdahl carried in the two point conversion to make the final tally 58-8.
Coach Hickman complimented Kallroos for his efforts stating, "He really stepped it up this game and made some great tackles on defense." Kallroos was named defensive player of the week for his efforts at outside linebacker. Hickman explained that Kallroos had those opportunities because the middle of the defense was doing such a good job. He particularly mentioned the play of Andreas, Preston, and sophomore Goodwin. He went on to explain that Goodwin showed a marked improvement on both sides of the ball. Another sophomore the head coach complimented was Strand who "really stepped it up this game." Sophomore Strand was one of the leading tacklers on the team.
The Drakes host Hawley Oct. 15 and Frazee Wednesday Oct. 21 at Sonnek Field to close out the regular season.
On a interesting related item former Blackduck football star Jonny Bennett is having a banner year at St. Scholastica.
Bennett, a sophomore wide out, is the leading receiver on the team with 24 catches for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He has two touchdown receptions and also returns both punts and kicks for the Saints who currently sport a 3-2 record.
Bennett is second on the team in all purpose yards. He also saw extensive action a year ago in the Saints inaugural season of football.