Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Al Rose
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Rebels work to hold on and win over Esko

 

Al Rose

The Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels put the rush on the Esko Eskomos' quarterback.

After leading 26-7 at halftime, the fourth-ranked Class AA Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels gained valuable experience as they had to work hard to hold on and get the 34-27 win over the fifth-ranked Class AAA Esko Eskomos in a 2½ hour game played in muggy conditions in Willow River Friday, September 4. The Rebels improved to 3-0 in the newly formed Northeast Blue Division while the Eskomos went to 2-1.

Isaac Riihiluoma led the Rebels with three touchdowns. The 150-pound junior speedster had 141 yards rushing and a 64-yard TD pass reception from Bryceton Butkiewicz for 205 all-purpose yards. Riihiluoma fired up the Rebels offense on the third play from scrimmage on a 54-yard TD sprint. Riihiluoma capped off MLWR's scoring to seal the deal with a 5-yard TD run late in the fourth quarter. Riihiluoma also had a 2-point conversion run.

Butkiewicz had 110 yards rushing and caught a long pass from Connor Radel to set up a 4-yard TD. Butkiewicz added two conversion runs. Wyatt Lampel had a 2-point conversion run. Sam Coil added a quarterback sack with a fumble recovery in the end zone for a safety and MLWR's other score.

Three out of four Esko touchdowns were by Jaxson Turner on runs of four and 63 yards and a 79-yard punt return. Turner finished with 115 yards rushing and 194 all-purpose yards. Cole Litsey was Esko's leading ground gainer with 116 yards, including a 20-yard TD. Selena Shady was 3-for-4 on extra point kicks.

The Rebels defense was led by Craig Nelson with four solo tackles and three assists and Joe Weidendorf with five solo stops and one assist. Tanner Ramirez had three tackles and one assist. Coil had the sack and fumble recovery in the end zone for a safety. Riihiluoma had one pass interception and one tackle. John Kachinske had a fumble recovery.

Esko's Derek Peterson had a pass interception.

MLWR had eight first downs as compared to seven for Esko. The Rebels kept the penalties down to five with two of those being late-game delays of game while the Eskomos were hampered by nine penalties. MLWR had two turnovers while Esko had three turnovers. MLWR had one lost fumble while the Eskomos had two lost fumbles, including the safety sack by Coil.

It took the Rebels three plays to score as Riihilluoma got around the right side and raced 54 yards. Lampel busted the middle for the conversion and 8-0 at 10:35.

Esko mounted a 13 play drive, culminating in a fourth-and-goal score on a 4-yard pitch to the left to Turner. Shady added the point after for 8-7 at 5:28.

Neither team was able to score again, but Riihiluoma picked up a first down to close the quarter.

The Rebels were unable to sustain a drive and turned the ball over on downs.

Riihiluoma picked off an Esko pass on the 33 at 9:19. After running one Butkiewicz play in the middle for 3, the Rebels executed a newly implemented play with Butkiewicz taking a pitch right and throwing a 64-yard halfback TD pass to a wide open Riihiluoma. Butkiewicz went right for the conversion run and 16-7 at 8:22.

On MLWR's next series it appeared Lampel would score as the 215-pounder rumbled with Turner in hot pursuit. Turner made quite a play to punch the ball free from Lampel and recovered on the 2-yard line. However after Turner gained two in the middle, it was Coil roaring in and sacking the Eskomos quarterback and recovering the fumble in the end zone for a safety and 18-7 at 4:07.

With MLWR being the recipient of a free kick, it took eight plays from the 42 to cash in. Butkiewicz went right for a 4-yard TD and Riihiluoma added the conversion on a counter for 26-7 at 3:58 to close out the first half scoring.

On Esko's first play from scrimmage in the second half, the slippery and fast Turner reversed his field and raced for a 63-yard TD. After a penalty, Shady missed left for 26-13 at 11:40.

The Eskomos would get the ball back on an interception by Peterson at 6:17. Esko turned it into points, mounting an eight play drive with Litsey keeping on a speed option right for a 20-yard score. Shady's kick was good and Esko had quickly closed the gap to 26-20 at 1:59.

The Rebels got a big play to begin the fourth quarter on a bomb by Radel that Butkiewicz bobbled and hauled in and took to the 5-yard line. Riihiluoma went right for the 5-yard TD and Butkiewicz trotted in through the middle for 34-20 at 11:21.

For over six minutes neither team was able to sustain a drive, but on a Rebels' punt it was Turner reversing direction and scoring on a 79-yard punt return and Shady adding the kick for 34-27 at 1:59.

It appeared Esko had recovered an on-side kick, but there had been an illegal touch and MLWR had the ball on the 49 and after two runs by Riihiluoma the Rebels ran out the clock with the victory formation.

The 3-0 division leading Rebels travel to Mora to take on the 2-1 Mustangs on Friday, September 11 at 7 p.m. before going to Pine City for another division game with the 0-3 Pine City Dragons on Friday, September 18 at 7 p.m. MLWR is back in Willow River on Friday, September 25 for a game against 2-1 Crosby-Ironton at 7 p.m.

 

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