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High School Football: Price was right for Aitkin to get the Stump

Aitkin C-I Photo.JPG
The Aitkin Gobblers pose with the Stump Trophy Friday, Oct. 4, after defeating rival Crosby-Ironton 30-6. Jeremy Millsop / Brainerd Dispatch

AITKIN -- Injuries may be plaguing the Aitkin Gobblers backfield, but they didn’t go bargain shopping for runners Friday, Oct. 4.

Austin Price carried the ball 35 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns to get the Gobblers back to their winning ways with a 30-6 victory over rival Crosby-Ironton.

The victory was Aitkin’s first in the Northeast Blue Subdistrict. It snapped a two-game losing streak and it brought the Stump Trophy back to Aitkin.

“The offensive line did a great job,” Aitkin head coach Alan Hill said. “Austin is our only healthy running back really right now. So we just told him, we got a linebacker back healthy so we were going to rest him on defense, but he was going to get a workload and so I told him, ‘I hope you’re ready,’ and he answered the bell.

“The offensive line did a great job of opening holes. They imposed their will, which was something we wanted to do.”

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Aitkin 30, Crosby-Ironton 6

Key: Austin Price rushed 35 times for 184 yards and two touchdowns.

Sub: A 1-2, CI 1-2.

Overall: A 4-2, CI 4-2.

Next: Aitkin hosts Esko 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10; Crosby-Ironton hosts Moose Lake-Willow River 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11.

Rivalry revisited

2018: C-I 20, Aitkin 16 (Aitkin beat C-I 34-6 in Section 7-2A quarterfinals)

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2017: Aitkin 20, C-I 14

2016: Aitkin 20, C-I 14

2015: Aitkin 21, CI 20 OT

2014: CI 14, Aitkin 12

2013: Aitkin 35, CI 18

2012: C-I 16, Aitkin 10

2011: C-I 18, Aitkin 15 (CI beat Aitkin 20-15 in the Section 7-2A quarterfinals)

2010: C-I 46, Aitkin 0

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2009: C-I 40, Aitkin 14

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While Price was the workhorse for most of the night, the Gobblers capitalized on two quick C-I turnovers to build a 16-0 first quarter lead.

C-I’s first possession ended with a Carter Olson interception. Nine plays and 43 yards later Price was scoring the game’s first TD from 3 yards out.

“It’s tough to dig yourself a hole like that against a good team, especially over here in Aitkin,” Rangers head coach Bryan Syrstad said. “We have to come out ready to play and I don’t think we were ready tonight. We turned the ball over multiple times and we didn’t execute at all.”

C-I’s next drive saw the Gobblers haul in a backwards pass at the Ranger 1-yard line. Two plays later Aitkin QB Kyle Cluff dove in from a yard out on a keeper for Aitkin’s second TD.

The Rangers answered the Gobblers with a 75-yard drive of their own. Gabe Kramer caught a short dump pass from Dakota Mitchell and broke a tackle to burst down the sidelines for 46 yards. Four players later Mitchell hit Cam Durant on a short fade route for a 16-6 score.

But the Gobblers and Price used up eight minutes of the second quarter with a 14-play, 79-yard drive. Price carried it nine times on the drive that was capped off when Carter Dox took a handoff from Cluff. Dox ran right, while Cluff ran left. Dox turned and fired across the field to a wide open Cluff, who tiptoed into the end zone for a 22-6 halftime score.

“Their offensive line got good push and they had some good double teams on the off tackle,” Syrstad said of Aitkin’s ground and pound offense. “They did a good job of mixing it up. We have to do a better job on defense with wrapping up. We had some opportunities in the backfield and we didn’t wrap up and they got more yards than they should have.

“We just need to execute better. We need to tackle better all around we need to play better.”

The second half belonged to Aitkin’s defense. C-I’s first possession was a three and out. Its next possession ended on a Carson Kullhem interception. A Jake Ince pick ended C-I’s next possession and the clock stopped the Rangers’ final drive.

Aitkin started the season with two shutout wins. The Gobblers defense was just as impressive Friday as it held C-I to -3 yards rushing and just 86 total yards.

“We got three picks and not many yards through the air,” Hills said. “The defensive line has to get a ton of credit for getting pressure on Dakota. They did a really nice job.”

Price finished off his night with a 6-yard TD run that concluded a 9-play, 48-yard drive late in the fourth quarter. Aitkin finished with 267 yards of offense on 55 plays.

“This is always a big rivalry game and it’s always huge to get back into that winning way, but to come back and kind of win pretty handily is huge. It will give us a little confidence moving into another section game next week with Esko. Hopefully we can get things rolling as we get some of our other key guys back.”

Crosby-Ironton 0 6 0 0 -- 6
Aitkin 16 6 0 8 -- 30

First quarter
A-Austin Price 3 run (Price run) 4:40
A-Kyle Cluff 1 run (Carter Dox run) 1:58

Second quarter
CI-Cam Durant 14 pass from Dakota Mitchell (run failed) 10:09
A-Cluff 17 pass from Dox (run failed) 2:05

Fourth quarter
A-Price 6 run (Price run) 1:56

Team statistics
Rushes-yards: A49-220, CI 17-(-3)
Pass comp-att-int-yds: A 3-6-1-47, CI 5-14-3-89
Total offense: A 55-267, CI 31-86

Individual leaders
Rushing: A-Price 35-184, Hunter Nissen 7-28, Cater Olson 1-0, Kyle Cluff 1-1, Caiden Kjelstrom 1-11, Carter Dox 3-(-3), Jack Grell 1-(-1) ; CI-Ben Edmundson 6-14, Dakota Mitchell 4-(-20), Kale Dugan 3-4, Landon Erickson 1-1, Anthony Hudrlik 1-(-6), Carter Decent 2-4
Passing: A-Dox 1-1-17, Cluff 2-5-30; CI-Mitchell 5-14-89
Receiving: A-Cluff 1-17, Zach Ehnstrom 1-16, Jake Ince 1-14; CI-Gabe Kramer 3-70, Hudrlik 1-5, Cam Durant 1-14
Related Topics: FOOTBALLLOCAL SPORTSAITKIN GOBBLERS
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