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

By Al Rose
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Rebels edge Eskomos in battle


Al Rose

Rebel Isaac Riihiluoma runs for a first down. Riihiluoma had the Rebels' first touchdown in the win at Esko on Friday, September 16.

In a game that many predicted to be a runaway, the Rebels edged the Eskomos only 36-33 in a back and forth battle at Esko on Friday, September 16. MLWR remains undefeated at 3-0 while Esko is still looking for its first win.

It was as complete of a contrast in styles of offense that could be imagined. While the Rebels ground it out for all but one of their scores, the Eskomos got all their tallies either on or connected to big plays. Although MLWR had twice the number of offensive plays with 74 as compared to 37 plays on offense for Esko, the Eskomos even led twice in the game.

Each team had five touchdowns, but in the end analysis it was points after that determined the three point difference. MLWR got three two point conversion runs. Esko made three PAT kicks.

The Rebels racked up 17 first downs while Esko had only five first downs. MLWR had 12 enforced penalties for 85 yards and one declined penalty. The Eskomos had only six penalties for 25 yards and that included four five yard penalties during attempted on-side kicks at the end of the game. Each team had two turnovers. MLWR lost two fumbles and Esko lost one fumble, but the Eskomos other turnover was an intercepted pass returned for a Rebels touchdown.

MLWR elected to receive, but went three-and-out. The Eskomos got one first down, but fumbled on the next play and junior defensive end Ryan Barrett recovered on the 38 at 8:50.

After two penalties, Isaac Riihilouma, who came into the game leading the Rebel rushers with 335 yards on 17 carries (19.7 yards per carry) and leading the area in all-purpose yards with 392 yards, got the only score of the first quarter as he squeezed through the left middle for a five yard TD to cap off a seven-play 62 yard MLWR drive. Joe Weidendorf hit the middle for 8-0 at 6:07. Weidendorf, who had 146 yards on 25 rushes, was a workhorse throughout as Esko keyed on Bryceton Butkiewicz.

As the game progressed, keying on Butkiewicz was not very effective as the 210 pound back still ended up scoring three touchdowns, including the game-winner and game-clincher and he added a two point conversion run to move to eight touchdowns and 52 points on the season as the Rebels leading scorer. Butkiewicz and Riihiluoma combined for 132 yards on 37 carries.

Esko went three-and-out to begin the second quarter. After MLWR committed its second holding penalty and got moved back to its own 26, the Rebels fumbled and Esko recovered.

It took the Eskomos five plays to cash in on the error and to go 27 yards with senior quarterback Stone DeLeon getting the one yard TD sneak. DeLeon tried to run from the shotgun for the extra points, but it went nowhere and the Rebels had a 8-6 lead at 8:11.

Riihilouma almost broke it on the kick, but was tripped up at Esko's 41. The Rebels ended up going three-and-out and punted and got a good roll and bounce to the 15 at 6:58.

Dawsen Cossalter caught a deep pass plus a flag flew for a questionable personal foul on a little push out of bounds. From the 32 and after taking advantage of two MLWR penalties, including one suspect call for defensive encroachment on third-and-12, the ball was advanced to the seven yard line. The Eskomos scored on the next play with Cossalter taking a left pitch and fighting hard to get in for the TD. The kick by senior Selena Shady was good and Esko had a 13-8 lead at 4:50 before the break.

After a penalty negated what would have been a 75 yard TD return by Rihilluoma, the Rebels answered with a 12-play 72 yard drive ending with Butkiewicz hitting the middle for a two yard TD. A shotgun pass to the right corner by Butkiewicz intended for Barrett was high, but MLWR had a slim14-13 lead and valuable momentum with only 15 ticks remaining until halftime.

Sam Coil's skidding second half kickoff was returned to Esko's 22. A deep pass down the left side found Cossalter in stride and he was able to shake an attempted shoulder pad grab for a 78 yard shocker. The kick was good and the table was turned with Esko up 20-14 at 11:42.

MLWR methodically marched 66 yards on 12 plays. Butkiewicz took a pitch and plowed across behind good blocks on the right middle for a one yard TD. Weidendorf worked the middle for his second successful conversion and the very important PAT's put the Rebels up 22-20 at 5:04.

The Eskomos went three-and-out and the Rebels were moving with two first downs as the quick third quarter closed.

MLWR came up one ball length short of a first down and Esko took over on downs at its own 16.

Barrett spied on an ill-fated first down swing pass to the right side and jumped the route to pluck it and run for a 16 yard pick-6 TD. Butkiewicz went right for the two point conversion and 30-20 at 10:11.

A long kick return down the right side required a diving trip up by Nick Wegge to save a touchdown return at the 12 yard line. Following one middle run for only three yards, it was a nine yard TD fade pass from DeLeon to a wide open Ben Fischer in the left corner. Although the pass for points to the right side was incomplete, Esko had closed the gap to 30-26 with 9:12 still left.

The Rebels went back to business as usual with the grinding ground game and put together a 12-play 50 yard drive that ate up six minutes and closed with Butkiewicz taking advantage of a huge gang push by the MLWR line for a nine yard TD. The Rebels had a pair of miscues on extra point efforts with the second penalty declined, but they had gained breathing room with a 36-26 lead at 3:11.

Esko deployed its passing game and went 49 yards in five plays. DeLeon dodged a sack by ducking under a charging and leaping Rebel and was able to launch a 38 yard TD pass to Reid Davidson on the left side of the end zone and Shady's kick was good for 36-33, MLWR, at 1:57.

Esko took four flags for illegalities on failed on-side kicks. Butkiewicz finally covered a hopper on the 45 yard line at 1:53. Butkiewicz got the Rebels 17th first down as time wound down.

MLWR defensive leaders included the following: Barrett with a quarterback sack, a fumble recovery and a pass interception returned for a touchdown; Weidendorf with four solo tackles and two assists; Dilon Louzek with three solos and two assists; Sam Coil with three solos and one assist; Anakin Oswald and Remington Stark with one solo and three assists each; Riihiluoma with one solo and two assists; Dakota Fredrick with a quarterback sack and Aidan Szczyrbak with half a sack.

The Class AA state second-ranked Rebels host the Mora Mustangs for Parent's Night on Friday, September 23 in Willow River at 7 p.m. Mora is at 2-1 as it comes off a 41-0 shellacking of the winless Pine City Dragons.


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