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AREA FOOTBALL: Balanced Huskies advance to semis

Pine River-Backus quarterback Nathan Holm was rushed by Pillager’s Travis Richar1 / 2
Hailee Johnson yelled encouragement to the Pillager football team.2 / 2

PILLAGER — The Pillager Huskies didn’t need the big plays Tuesday.

Instead the third-seeded Huskies used a balanced offensive attack and one big fumble recovery to eliminate the sixth-seeded Pine River-Backus Tigers 34-13 in the quarterfinals of the Section 6-1A playoffs.

The big play came on a fumble recovery at the PR-B 1 yard line. Tigers’ quarterback Nathan Holm went back to pass and had the ball slip from his grasp. That set up Travis Richards’ 1-yard TD run a play later for a 20-13 third quarter lead.

“Our quarterback went back and was ready to throw, but had to pull back because our receiver wasn’t looking,” said PR-B head coach Tom Demars. “If we could have moved the ball out and had a little change of field position at that point who knows? The score was 34-13, but I like to think the game was closer than that.”

Richard’s 1-yard score was one of the junior’s shortest run of the night as he carried the ball 22 times for 199 yards and two touchdowns.

Richard’s running and the passing of Matt Doss helped the Huskies to 410 yards of offense against a Tigers defense that manhandled Pillager during a 16-10 Pillager win Oct. 14.

“We ran the ball better today,” said Pillager head coach Lowell Scearcy. “We’re just really proud of all our kids. They’ve come a long way. A couple of years ago this team was 2-7 I think and then last year 5-3 and right now we’re 7-2 and we couldn’t be prouder of our guys. They just hung in there. We played this team a week and a half ago and just couldn’t run the ball. Today things went a lot better.”

Doss threw for three touchdowns and 150 yards on 9-of-18 passing. His final touchdown throw was a 30-yard dump pass to Adam Obermiller to open up the fourth quarter and made it 26-13.

On PR-B’s next possession, the Tigers drove to Pillager’s 21 yard line before four straight negative plays handed the ball over to the Huskies. Eight plays later, Richards was scoring from a yard out for the game’s final points.

“We’re giving away 40 to 50 pounds in the offensive line, but that’s just a fact of life for us,” said Scearcy. “There won’t be any growth spurts in the next few weeks. I always tell the kids for every pound a kid outweighs you, you have to stay an inch lower. Their reply is always, ‘coach I would be underneath the sod.’”

Doss hit Obermiller on a 35-yard touchdown strike to put the Huskies on the board first. The five-play, 80-yard drive was highlighted by a Jeff Flickinger 36-yard run.

The Tigers answered with an 11-play, 91-yard drive that ate up five minutes and was capped off by Holm’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Russell Burgoyne.

“I just can’t say enough good things about the (PR-B) coaches and kids,” said Scearcy. “They play really hard and that Holm kid is really good. He’s tough to stop. That being said, we’re just so proud of our kids. I think the whole town is and hopefully Saturday we can come out and play a good ball game.”

Pillager scored the opening half’s final points when Doss lobbed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Cole Hunstad to claim a 12-7 halftime edge.

Doss finished the half 6-of-13 for 98 yards. His one interception, caught by PR-B’s Burgoyne, came on the last play of the first half. Holm, who lit up the Huskies secondary in their first meeting was held to 75 yards on 8-13 passing for the game.

“We wanted to run the ball a little more, especially when they came out in a little bit of a different defense,” said Demars. “They came out with two deep (safeties) to stop our passing game and that kind of dictated that we needed to run the ball a little more. It worked well sporadically. We had a good drive in the first half and another in the second half we were able to march it down. They were playing the pass pretty well and we just didn’t run the ball consistently enough.”

Pine River-Backus 7 0 6 0 — 13

Pillager 6 6 8 14 — 34

First quarter

Pill-Adam Obermiller 35 pass from Matt Doss (run failed) 6:19

PRB-Russell Burgoyne 25 pass from Nathan Holm (Kurt Kent kick) 1:20

Second quarter

Pill-Cole Hunstad 11 pass from Doss (pass failed) 4:27

Third quarter

Pill-Travis Richards 1 run (Hunstad pass from Doss) 5:51

PRB-Jared Adkins 9 run (kick failed) 2:36

Fourth quarter

Pill-Obermiller 30 pass from Doss (pass failed) 11:12

PRB-Richards 1 run (run) 1:44

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: Pill 37-260, PRB 39-155

Pass comp-att-int-yards: Pill 9-18-1-150, PRB 8-14-86

Total offense: Pill 55-410, PRB 53-241

Individual statistics

Rushing: Pill-Nick Ruhl 1-8, Jeff Flickinger 9-51, Travis Richards 22-199, Devin Strack 2-3, Matt Doss 1-2, Cody Beach 1-(-1) team 1-(-2); PRB-Jared Adkins 9-44, Russell Burgoyne 8-33, Nathan Holm 15-44, Drey Loge 5-45, team 2-(-11)

Passing: Pill-Matt Doss 9-18-150; PRB-Holm 8-13-75, Beau Howard 1-1-11

Receiving: Pill-Adam Obermiller 3-75, Cole Hunstad 2-12, Richards 1-18, Devrin House 2-33; PRB-Beau Howard 3-19, Burgoyne 1-25, Loge 1-15 Holm 11, Darian Rubner 2-16

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at or 855-5856.