By Al Rose
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

In homecoming game, Rebels upset by Gobblers


Dan Lingle

The Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels host the Aitkin Gobblers October 2 in Willow River, but are upset in the homecoming game 24-12. Pictured, Rebel Connor Radel stretches for the end zone for the touchdown.

The Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels came in 5-1 and were ranked seventh in Class AA, but were hampered by injuries to three key players and were upset 24-12 by the 4-2 Aitkin Gobblers in the homecoming game at Willow River on Friday, October 2. The loss snapped a 51-game home winning streak for MLWR and put the Rebels' record at 5-2 and dropped them out of contention for a possible tie for a Northeast Blue Division title while the Gobblers improved to 4-3.

Aitkin had a total of 20 first downs while MLWR had just 11 first downs. There were a total of only two penalties on the Rebels while the Gobblers had eight penalties. MLWR lost one fumble, but Aitkin did not turn it into points.

The Gobblers got two touchdowns and two extra point conversions by Jerod Novak. Caleb Curtiss had one touchdown and Wyatt Sanford caught one conversion pass from Hunter Sanford.

For the Rebels, Connor Radel ran for one touchdown on a quarterback sneak and tossed a TD pass to Tanner Ramirez. Both of MLWR's conversion attempts were unsuccessful.

Joe Weidendorf led the Rebels defense with eight tackles and five assists. Craig Nelson and Dillon Louzek each had eight tackles and three assists. Thomas Hansen had five tackles and four assists. Ramirez had five tackles and two assists. Chet Morgan had four tackles and three assists. Ryan Wilson had three tackles and three assists. Alex Tackett had four tackles and one assist.

The first quarter was a stalemate with neither team scoring and each getting two first downs.

The second quarter was also scoreless, but Aitkin had five first downs as compared to three first downs for MLWR.

Aitkin received to begin the third quarter and put together a 13-play drive that covered 80 yards, including six first downs, before Novak dove the left middle for the game's first score. Novak added the two-point conversion in the middle for 8-0 at 6:33.

The Rebels put together what appeared would be a scoring drive as they worked down the field with two first downs, but came up a yard short on a pass from Radel to Hansen and the Gobblers took over on downs at the 17 with 19 seconds remaining.

Novak picked up one more first down to end the third quarter with Aitkin leading 8-0.

It took the Gobblers 11 plays, including four more first downs, to get to the four-yard line. Novak got the call and scored in the middle. The conversion pass to Wyatt Sanford from Hunter Sanford was good in the right corner for 16-0 at 7:32.

The Rebels were able to respond with a 10-play, 53-yard drive that included two first downs. On 4th and goal, Radel squeezed in on a quarterback sneak for the score. Tackett ran left, but was knocked out of bounds just before the pylon to keep it a 16-6 game.

Aitkin answered right back with a 51-yard five-play drive that ended with Caleb Curtiss scoring on a three-yard run and Novak tacking on the conversion for 24-6 at 52.9.

Taking advantage of two penalties on Aitkin, the Rebels were able to score on three plays with Radel tossing a perfect 13-yard pass to Ramirez in the middle of the end zone. A pass to Byrceton Butkiewicz on the right side was incomplete for 24-12 at 12.2.

The Gobblers covered an on-side kick and closed out the game in victory formation.

The 5-2 Rebels host the Class AAAA and fourth-ranked 7-0 Hermantown Hawks for a Thursday, October 8 game in Willow River at 7 p.m. to close out the regular season.


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