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Area Football: Paynesville rushes past Pillager to the Bank

ALEXANDRIA--Max Weidner was in the hearts and on the minds of his teammates. And it appeared to affect the Paynesville Bulldogs late in the first half just after the senior quarterback left the game with an ankle injury. Once the second half star...

Tucker Peterson runs the ball in for a Pillager touchdown in the fourth quarter after a missed tackle by Paynesville in the Huskies quarterfinal class 2A playoff game Friday, Nov. 9, in Alexandria. Teammates Cade Barrett (85) and Ethan Thomsen (57) watch on. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!
Tucker Peterson runs the ball in for a Pillager touchdown in the fourth quarter after a missed tackle by Paynesville in the Huskies quarterfinal class 2A playoff game Friday, Nov. 9, in Alexandria. Teammates Cade Barrett (85) and Ethan Thomsen (57) watch on. Bill Johnson / Picture Day Pro!

 

ALEXANDRIA-Max Weidner was in the hearts and on the minds of his teammates.

And it appeared to affect the Paynesville Bulldogs late in the first half just after the senior quarterback left the game with an ankle injury. Once the second half started it was a benefit to have Weidner to play for as the 11th-ranked Bulldogs knocked off the No. 7-ranked Pillager Huskies 52-14 in the Class 2A state quarterfinals Friday, Nov. 9.

As Weidner was leaving the field on a cart, he challenged his teammates to continue the season for him.

"He just said, 'Go out. Win a state championship. Win for me. Play for me,'" said backup quarterback Grady Fuchs. "That's what we did tonight. We won this for Max. He's the heart and soul of our team. He's such a great leader on and off the field. He leads us in every way possible. We're playing for him now."

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Paynesville scored on four of its first five possessions in the second half after starting the second stanza with an onside kick recovery to break open a 24-8 halftime lead.

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Paynesville 52, Pillager 14

  • Key: Paynesville rushed for 538 yards
  • Overall: Pillager finishes 10-2, Paynesville 9-2
  • Next Paynesville vs. Caledonia in Class 2A State Semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15

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After the onside recovery, the Bulldogs needed just four plays to march 47 yards and score on a Daltin Christinsen 20-yard touchdown.

"We saw a guy out there with big mittens on so we decided to kick it to him and that's what we did," Fuchs said.

Said Pillager head coach Paul Peterson: "The onside was terrible because we had just talked about it. They didn't kick away the entire time and on tape, they never kicked it deep either. We told them to watch the onside and the squib and our guy just kind of peeled out of there and they got it."

Christian finished with 202 yards on just 11 carries as Paynesville racked up 538 yards of rushing.

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"We were just seeing huge holes," Fuchs said. "We were able to get that kick-out block by our fullbacks and running backs. We had just one safety to beat and those were where those big runs came from."

After stopping Pillager's opening drive of the second half, Paynesville fumbled the ball away and had to stop the Huskies again-which they did. Then the Bulldogs needed just two plays to go 69 yards. Zach Schroeder capped it off with a 12-yard score. The senior back scored three touchdowns and rushed for 123 yards.

The Bulldogs then recovered the next kick. It wasn't meant to be an onside kick, but it ricocheted off a Pillager player and Paynesville recovered.

"We weren't trying for that, but that's happened twice this year," said Fuchs, who also does kicks off. "I'm just not a good kicker, I guess. It worked out though."

Seven plays and 50 yards later Schroeder scored from 7 yards out.

Josh Kranz opened up the fourth quarter with his first rush of the game that resulted in a 59-yard touchdown and Paynesville's final score.

The 52 points are about average what the Bulldogs have been scoring and will lead them into a Class 2A state semifinal rematch against defending state champion Caledonia.

"At the half, we just told each other that Max wouldn't want us to stop," Fuchs said. "He would want us to keep going and giving it our all for him. We did that. We came out and put some points on the board."

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The Bulldogs scored on their opening three possessions rattling of scoring drives of 67 yards on six plays, 57 yards on five plays and 50 yards on six plays.

Paynesville's opening drive was highlighted by Weidner's 22-yard run. The QB scored from 10 yards out for the game's first TD.

Pillager answered, however, with a 12-pay, 64-yard drive. The Huskies were 3-for-3 on fourth-down conversions, including a fourth and 1 at the Paynesville 26 that Tucker Peterson turned into a 26-yard TD. Peterson added the two-point conversion for Pillager's lone points in the first half.

It was also the first points Paynesville's defense allowed so far in this year's playoffs as it shut out its two section opponents.

Peterson added Pillager's second touchdown late in the fourth quarter as the junior rushed for 109 yards. Pillager finished with just 217 total yards.

"We blew a couple of assignments and they had some players that were good," Pillager head coach Paul Peterson said. "We hurt ourselves and got chased down from behind and they guessed right. We weren't passing the ball around so they had eight in the box. We were moving the ball, but you would get a tackle for a loss and then we stalled. You have to give them all the credit."

A Schroeder 21-yard run catapulted the Bulldogs into scoring position on their second drive that was capped off by Grady Fuchs' 5-yard TD run.

The Huskies tried for a fourth fourth-down conversion on their next drive, but were denied at midfield. Paynesville took over and scored six plays later when Schroeder dove over the line of scrimmage for a 1-yard score. A Weidner 24-yard run was the highlight.

It was on Paynesville's next drive that the town held its collective breath as Weidner injured what appeared to be his ankle on a dive play. Three plays later the Bulldogs handed the ball over to Pillager on downs. The Huskies drove to the Paynesville 38 but their drive stalled to end a threat to cut into Paynesville's 24-8 halftime lead.

Paynesville rushed for 274 yards on 25 carries in the first half. The Bulldogs were just 1 of 5 passing for 3 yards. The Huskies threw for 13 yards and rushed for 135 for 148 total yards of offense in the first half.

"They're a good team, but our linebackers were getting caught up," Paul Peterson said. "Their scheme is similar to ours, but we weren't getting off blocks. It was a battle in the trenches and we were losing the one-on-ones in there. Their backs are good and our backers were getting caught up in there. We were trying to back them off and it helped a little, but they got their thing rolling."

 

Pillager 8 0 0 6-14

Paynesville 16 8 20 8-52

 

First quarter

Pay: Max Weidner 10 run (Luke Johnson run) 10:16

Pill-Tucker Peterson 26 run (Peterson run) 4:05

Pay-Grady Fuchs 5 run (Fuchs run) 2:49

Second quarter

Pay-Zach Schroeder 1 run (Weidner run) 11:19

Third quarter

Pay-Daltin Christinsen 20 run (Christinsen run) 10:49

Pay-Schroeder 12 run (pass failed) 4:08

Pay-Schroeder 7 run (pass failed) 2:03

Fourth quarter

Pay-Josh Kranz 59 run (Fuchs run) 11:49

Pill-Tucker Peterson 29 run (pass failed) 5:51

 

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: Pill 49-116, Payne 48-537

Pass comp-att-int-yds: Pill 3-10-2-31, Payne 2-7-1-11

Total offense: Pill 59-217, Payne 55-548

 

Individual leaders

Rushing: Pill-Tucker Peterson 19-109, Jack Bentson 4-9, Luke Woidyla 21-64, Hunter Gjovik 1-6, Erik Peterson 2-(-6), Ethan Berndt 1-2, Team 1-(-4); Payne-Daltin Christinsen 11-202, Max Weidner 8-68, Zach Schroeder 15-123, Grady Fuchs 5-38, Josh Kranz 1-59, Blake Hiltner 1-(-1), Tanner Stanley 2-(-13), Drew Tangen 1-5, Craig Schmitz 1-18, Team 1-(-5)

Passing: Pill-Erik Peterson 2-10-31; Payne-Fuchs 2-7-11

Receiving: Pill- Spencer Schaefer 1-1, Woidyla 1-12, Tucker Peterson 1-18; Payne-Schroeder 1-3, Sam Oehrlein 1-8

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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