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

By Al Rose
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

In homecoming game, Rebels upset by Dragons


It was the Rebels homecoming, but MLWR was edged 20-18 in an upset by the previously winless Pine City Dragons on Friday, September 30 in Willow River. Each team had three touchdowns in the bruiser. A two-point conversion run in the second quarter ended up being the difference. MLWR went to 3-2 to be tied for second in Northeast Blue play with Crosby-Ironton.

Pine City was led by Jake Lunceford with two touchdowns and one two-point conversion run. Jacob Lindblom had Pine City’s other touchdown. Jared Kotek paced Pine City’s rushers with 85 yards.

Isaac Riihiluoma led the Rebels with two touchdowns with one coming on a screen pass from Isaac Coil. Bryceton Butkiewicz, who came into the game tied as an area leader with nine touchdowns and tied as an area leader with 60 points, had MLWR’s other touchdown. Joe Weidendorf led the Rebels rushers with 74 yards.

Basic statistics reflected just how close the game was. Each team had bulk on the line and beef in the backfield. MLWR had 10 first downs while Pine City had nine first downs. The Rebels had three penalties with two enforced for 20 yards while the Dragons had three accepted infractions for 20 yards. Pine City and MLWR each went three-and-out only two times. Each team failed to convert once on fourth down. Each team lost one fumble and each team had one pass intercepted.

Pine City won the toss and elected to defer with the Rebels receiving, but MLWR went three-and-out on its first possession.

The Dragons drew first blood and got the only score of the first quarter as they drove 53 yards on nine plays, including three first downs. Lindblom scored on a two-yard quarterback keeper. Adam Seals sent the kick wide left, but Pine City was up 6-0 at 6:40.

Pine City put another TD on the board early in the second quarter with a seven-play 59-yard drive that included two first downs. Lunceford plowed in on the middle from a yard out. Riihiluoma picked off a conversion pass on the right side, but two flags flew. A hold on MLWR’s defense was declined, but a personal foul for roughing the passer was accepted to allow the Dragons a second chance to convert. A left pitch to Lunceford was good for 14-0 at 10:48.

The Rebels worked hard to answer as they drove 80 yards on 12 plays, including three first downs. MLWR got creative and used a screen pass from quarterback Coil to Riihiluoma on the left side. Seeing that he was hemmed in, Riihiluoma made a smart cut back right for a 14-yard TD scamper. Butkiewicz was stopped in the middle on the two-point try for 14-6 at 6:07.

Pine City appeared to have a big return to the Rebels 15-yard line with Remington Stark finally tackling, but the play was called back and placed on the three-yard line due to an illegal block.

The Rebels defense soon got the ball back to the offense as Riihiluoma stripped the ball and Weidendorf recovered on the Dragons 18-yard line.

Riihiluoma lost a yard, but ran the middle for a first down to the five-yard line. Riihiluoma exerted extra effort to try to score in the middle, but fumbled a foot from the goal line at 4:04.

After one first down, Pine City attempted a bomb down the left side, but Hunter Klund made an excellent play to get position and to intercept the pass at MLWR’s 46-yard line.

The Rebels rattled off a pair of back-to-back first downs on a seven-play 46-yard drive, including a long power run by Weidendorf dragging Dragons all the way to the nine-yard line, to prompt a time out by Pine City at 1:50. Runs by Anakin Oswald, Butkiewicz and Oswald again advanced the ball to the two-yard line and MLWR called time with 10 ticks on the clock. Butkiewicz went right with a pitch, turned backward for leverage and leaped, holding the ball high and arching over to break the plane and get the TD with six seconds before the break. Oswald went nowhere on a right pitch, but Pine City’s lead had been cut to 14-12.

MLWR’s defense came through with a big play to start the third quarter. Pine City gambled and went for a first down on 4th-and-2 on its own 30-yard line and the Rebels stuffed a quarterback sneak at 10:18.

The Rebels got one first down, but a pass on the left side was dropped, Riihiluoma was thrown for a five-yard loss and a high shotgun snap sailed over quarterback Coil for 4th-and-21. A pass to Butkiewicz down the middle was incomplete and the Dragons took back over on the 30.

Pine City tried a quarterback draw on 3rd-and-1, but the Rebels were not fooled and the Dragons decided not to gamble on 4th-and-one this time and punted. MLWR went three-and-out. Pine City got one first down, but one false start as the quick and scoreless quarter closed with the Rebels still trailing by two points at 14-12.

The Dragons got another first down and another false start, but were able to sustain a 47-yard drive that took seven plays with Lunceford taking a direct snap for a two-yard TD in the middle. Ryan Barrett made a big play to steam around from end and to shut down an attempted quarterback shotgun run to keep it a one-possession game with the score at 20-12 at 8:34.

Klund took a short bouncer and almost broke it on the kick return to the Dragons' 47. A pass up the middle by Butkiewicz to Avery Kosloski was a long first down, but on the very next play Butkiewicz’s pass up the middle was picked off by Carter Utecht on Pine City’s 16-yard line at 7:38.

Pine City got one first down, but was forced to punt at 3:58. The Rebels drove 67 yards on 10 plays, including three first downs. Riihiluoma got his second TD of the game on a one yard run on the left side. Riihiluoma was stonewalled on a left pitch for the attempt to tie the game and the Rebels were down 20-18 at 1:05.

After one false start on an onside kick attempt, Sam Coil re-kicked from the 35 yard line and it was a beauty that was recovered by Stark at the 46-yard line. Hopes faded away on a loss of six on a scramble with a dumped off pass, a faulty long snap for a loss of 10 and a bomb to Butkiewicz that fell short. Pine City kneed out the two-point upset for its first win of the season.

Weidendorf led the MLWR defense with two tackles, eight assists and one fumble recovery. Sam Coil had two tackles and nine assists and a successful on-side kick. Stark had five tackles, three assists and the on-side kick recovery. Dilon Louzek had one solo and eight assists. Riihiluoma had two solos, six assists and stripped a ball to cause a fumble. Dakota Fredrick had two solos and six assists. Klund had two tackles and a pass interception.

The 3-2 Rebels face a potentially very tough road match-up with 3-2 Crosby-Ironton on Friday, October 7 at 7 p.m.


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