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Area Football: Pequot advances to fourth straight section final

Pequot Lakes 14, Aitkin 0 Key: A fumble recovery early and Austin Young's punt return led to the Patriots' win Overall: A 7-2, PL 7-3 Next: Pequot Lakes vs. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in Section 8-3A final at Fargodome 5:30 p.m. Friday AITKIN--It's ...

Pequot Lakes 14, Aitkin 0

Key: A fumble recovery early and Austin Young's punt return led to the Patriots' win

Overall: A 7-2, PL 7-3

Next: Pequot Lakes vs. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in Section 8-3A final at Fargodome 5:30 p.m. Friday

AITKIN-It's a good bet what the topic of conversation will be 20 years from now.

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Players from Saturday's Section 8-3A semifinal between the No. 4 Pequot Lakes Patriots and top-seeded Aitkin Gobblers will return to their hometowns to celebrate class reunions.

After exchanging pleasantries, the topic will find its way to the defensive clinic both teams displayed at Veterans Field. Then it will turn to the injuries that might still hamper some of the players after both defenses inflicted their will on the opposing offense in the hard-hitting classic, which was won 14-0 by Pequot Lakes to advance the Patriots to their fourth straight section final.

"There was a lot of hitting going on out there," said Pequot head coach Chip Lohmiller. "I have to credit our guys for hanging in there. We had a lot of guys get hurt, who didn't finish the game tonight, but we battled and battled.

"Our defense was solid. It was a defensive battle. We usually score a lot more points than that, but I'm going to give a lot of credit to Aitkin because they really played well tonight. Their defense was outstanding tonight."

The high-octane offense of Pequot, which averaged 28 points during the season, was held to a season-low 127 yards on 52 plays. Aitkin forced three turnovers and held Pequot to just 32 yards of offense in the second half.

"We don't have a lot of size and when you don't have size you have to get the guys to buy into getting to the ball," said Aitkin head coach Tom Sanford. "They did. We called ourselves the Wolfpack because we would get a pack of people to the ball. That's what you have to do when you don't have size. We have athletes and the guys played great defensively. We just couldn't get anything going on offense."

The Gobblers' offense was just as stymied. Aitkin, which had won seven straight and averaged 25 points during the regular season, was held to 110 yards and coughed up the ball three times.

The first Aitkin turnover was the most costly. On the game's first play from scrimmage, the ball hit the ground and ended up in the hands of defensive tackle Zach Senst at the Aitkin 30. Seven plays later Nathan Traut broke into the end zone from 2 yards out for a 7-0 advantage that held the entire half.

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"Our defense played really well," said Lohmiller. "Our defense played outstanding. They only had a couple of big runs. Penalties killed us, but we also had a lot of injuries tonight and a lot of guys that were playing different positions than normal.

"It was a battle. The kids played great. We drove the field a couple of times and stalled out with a couple mistakes, but you have to give it to Aitkin. They played so good. Their linebackers are so good. They flow to the ball. They were catching our guys in the backfield on a sweep. It was a tough game. They have some great players over there."

Pequot's Calvin Maske and Austin Young added interceptions, but the offense couldn't convert those turnovers into points.

Aitkin's Jeb Sanford, who finished with two sacks, added a fumble recovery in the first half. Wyatt Kokesh added a first-half interception.

"I told the guys after the game to have no regrets," said Sanford. "This was still our best season. This group of seniors, they're like my own kids. They bought into the weight room. We just didn't have any size and so the kids bought into the weight room and got stronger and faster.

"We didn't reach our goal and for that I'm sorry. We had a picture of the Fargodome hanging in the weight room and they looked at it every day. That was the goal. To get there. We missed it by one game and I'm sorry."

Second-half defenses were stingier as Pequot was held to just three first downs, one from an Aitkin penalty. Aitkin collected just three turnovers in the second half as well. After its first drive of the second half stalled at their own 31, the Gobblers punted to Young. The shifty wideout caught the punt, looked left and then changed directions right. He ran around one defender, cut up the field, darted between two Gobblers and found his speed for a 64-yard TD return and the game's final score.

"When he has the ball he is so dangerous," Lohmiller said of Young.

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Pequot will face Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton for the fourth straight time in the section final at the Fargodome. The problem for the Patriots will be the ability to field a full, healthy team after Saturday's beatdown.

"DGF is DGF-they are just tough," Lohmiller said. "Their coaching is great. They do a great job year in and year out. They have great athletes. We're just have to get healthy this week and do our best to stop them."

Pequot Lakes 7 0 7 0-14

Aitkin 0 0 0 0- 0

First quarter

PL-Nathan Traut 2 run (Conrad Nagy kick) 8:49

Third quarter

PL-Austin Young 64 punt return (Nagy kick) 6:16

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: A 32-110, PL 39-58

Pass comp-att-int-yds: A 4-22-2-35, PL 6-13-1-69

Total offense: A 54-145, PL 52-127

Individual leaders

Rushing: A-Caleb Curtiss 13-61, Jed Sanford 14-58, Wyatt Sanford 3-(-2), Jack Kuppich 2-(-7) ; PL-Calvin Maske 6-26, Deen Psyck 9-31, Nathan Traut 7-22, Blake Lane 7-(-5), Max Tangen 6-(-5)

Passing: A-Kuppich 4-21-35, Curtiss 0-1-0 ; PL- Tangen 5-11, Maxx Schindel 1-1-(-1), Lane 0-1-0

Receiving: A-Wyatt Sanford 2-15, Wyatt Kokesh 1-13, Curtiss 1-7; PL-Austin Young 3-68, Maske 1-2, Tangen 1-(-1)

Related Topics: AITKIN GOBBLERSPEQUOT LAKES PATRIOTS
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