By Al Rose
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Rebels unable to corral Mustangs


For the second season in a row the Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels football team was unable to corral the Mustangs of Mora. The Rebels scored two ticks before the break, nipping at Mora’s heels, trailing only 15-14 at halftime, but the Mustangs stampeded for 23 unanswered points in the second half to defeat MLWR 38-14 on Parent’s Night in Willow River on Friday, September 23.

Mora, Crosby-Ironton, Aitkin and MLWR are locked in a four-way 3-1 tie in Northeast Blue play.

The Mustangs had 14 first downs. The Rebels had 10 first downs, including four on MLWR’s last possession with Mora having already salted the game away.

Mora had four enforced infractions for 30 yards and one declined penalty on the last play of the game. The Rebels cut the most recent penalty count in half from 12 for 85 yards to six for 40 yards.

The Mustangs were paced by Jeremiah Mantel. The 195-pound senior fullback had three touchdown runs and one conversion run. Sophomore tailback Jon Smith added one TD run and one conversion run. Junior Noah Foster ran for one TD and he caught a two-point conversion pass. Junior Matt Peters went 2-for-2 on PAT kicks.

The Rebels got one touchdown run and one conversion run by Bryceton Butkiewicz. Joe Weidendorf had one touchdown run.

MLWR received, but went three-and-out and punted to the 50 yard line at 9:45. It took the Mustangs six plays to cover the half field and it ended with a fast Foster going around the left side and out-running chasing Rebels defenders for an 11-yard TD sprint. The kick by Matt Peters was good for 7-0 at 7:05.

The Rebels went three-and-out again, but the defense came up with a huge play by stuffing the stout Mantel on 4th-and-an-inch with Dakota Fredrick leading the charge on the 49-yard line at 3:48 to get the ball back to the offense on the turnover on downs.

The Rebels needed only four plays to cover the 51 yards to cash in. With a great fake to Butkiewicz on the right side, it was Weidendorf popping the middle for a 15-yard TD. Butkiewicz easily added the conversion run on the right middle to put the Rebels up 8-7 at 2:24.

After one first down, Mora had what would have been a pass reception and a long dodging and weaving touchdown by Foster negated by a hold. The Mustangs were moving with another first down, but coughed it up and Isaac Riihiluoma came out of a big pile holding the fumble recovery up high.

The Rebels ran one play to close the quarter and got a first down, but had to punt. The Mustangs also ended up having to punt as Dilon Louzek and Ryan Barrett sniffed out a screen pass. Mora encroached once, but MLWR also ended up having to punt.

The Mustangs had two first downs as part of a five-play 55-yard drive with Mantel taking a right pitch for a five-yard TD. A two-point conversion pass to Foster on the left side of the end zone boosted Mora to a 15-8 lead at 3:13.

MLWR was able to answer by driving 64 yards on nine plays with a big gainer coming with the Rebels in a rare double wide out formation and with Butkiewicz in the shotgun at the Rebels 38-yard line. Butkiewicz threw a perfect pass down the left side to junior tight end Avery Kosloski for a 46-yard completion to Mora’s 16-yard line. A pitch from junior quarterback Issac Coil to Butkiewicz was a first down at the five-yard line. Riihiluoma got just two yards in the middle and time was called at 39 seconds. Butkiewicz was denied on a right pitch at the one-yard line and MLWR took its second time out at 24 seconds. Butkiewicz tried the middle right, but was stopped cold. On fourth down and with eight precious seconds ticking away, the Rebels were able to hustle back to scrimmage, get set and Butkiewicz plowed the middle with just two seconds to spare. Although the Rebels suffered a penalty on the ensuing try for points and the subsequent pass by Coil to the right side was incomplete, MLWR was now trailing Mora only 15-14 at the break.

Mora received and scored on its opening possession for the only points of the third quarter. The score came as the Mustangs went 63 yards on eight plays, including two first downs. Mantel broke left for a 28-yard TD gallop. Smith added the conversion run for 23-14 at 8:28.

The Mustangs tacked on two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Smith got free for a 20-yard TD to cap off a six-play 70-yard drive. Mantel took a pitch for the conversion and 31-14 at 11:10.

Mora got its last touchdown by going 59 yards on nine plays with Mantel taking it in from five yards for his third TD. Peters added the kick for 38-14 at 4:26.

MLWR suffered its only lost fumble on the 15-yard line at 3:33, but Fredrick helped get the ball right back for the Rebels as he hammered Mora’s substitute quarterback for a sack-fumble and Remington Stark recovered on the 21.

The Rebels closed it out with four first downs. Riihiluoma got one and junior Colton Little ran for back-to-back first downs. Senior Hunter Klund picked up a final first down before he was flung down on a horse-collar. Two flags were declined to let it end.

Weidendorf led the defense with six solo tackles and three assists. Sophomore lineman Logan Peterson stepped right in to a starting role and met the challenge with four solos and five assists. Louzek had six solos and two assists. Fredrick had seven tackles, including the sack-fumble. Stark had four solos, three assists and a fumble recovery. Riihiluoma had four solos, two assists and a fumble recovery. Sam Coil and Anakin Oswald each had four tackles and two assists. Little had three tackles and one assist. Barrett had two tackles and one assist and Butkiewicz had one tackle and one assist.

The Rebels go back to work and will likely bounce back to make it a happy homecoming on Friday, September 30, in Willow River at 7 p.m. MLWR hosts the winless Pine City Dragons who got trounced 41-0 by Mora on September 17 and shut out 21-0 by Aitkin this week.


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