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

By Al Rose
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Rebels run into fumble troubles


October 12, 2017

Jennifer Szczyrbak

Rebel Aidan Szczyrbak (No. 77) provides pass protection for Ian Coil (No. 5).

The Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels, at No. 4 according to the Quality Rating Formula, were hoping to avenge last year's 37-36 loss and to gain some ground on the 5-1 No. 1 Barnum Bombers with a Section 7AA win over the Crosby-Ironton Rangers at Crosby on Saturday, October 7. The Rebels ran into trouble with three fumbles on the ground and also had one pass intercepted on the way to a 17-0 defeat by the Rangers.

Crosby-Ironton, improving to 2-4, converted one of MLWR's trio of fumbles into a touchdown and another fumble into a field goal. The Rebels, also at 2-4, did not turn an intercepted C-I pass into points. For the second game in a row, untimely penalties led to the failure of potential scoring drives.

The Rangers, with over 150 yards of total first-half offense, had 11 first downs at the end of the game. Although the Rebels were limited to 58 yards of total first-half offense, they also ended up with 11 first downs.

The Rangers went 13-for-20 passing for 135 yards, including six first downs with one 29-yarder to set up a touchdown. C-I had one pass picked off. The Rebels improved their passing for the second game in a row, going 9-for-19 passing for about 100 yards. MLWR passed for four first downs and it also had one pass picked off. Ryan Barrett, Trent Juhl, Avery Kosloski and Colton Little each had one first-down catch. Barrett, Juhl, Kosloski and Little each added another reception. Anakin Oswald caught one pass.

Although the weather was picture perfect, the nearly two and one-half hour game was choppy and sloppy for both teams. There was a total of nine turnovers and 20 penalties for a total of 192 yards of going backward. The Rangers had nine penalties for 100 yards, including two personal fouls. The Rebels had 11 penalties for 92 yards and also had two personal fouls.

MLWR went three-and-out twice. C-I also had two three-and-outs. The Rangers, with the one turnover on the pass interception, turned the ball over once on downs. The Rebels, with the three fumbles and the one pass picked off, also turned the ball over twice on downs. The Rangers used a fake punt and run to convert on fourth-and-inches. The Rebels did not convert on a fourth-and-eight fake punt and they also had one other fourth-down try fail.

The Rebels' pass rushing was a bright spot as MLWR combined for five QB sacks and one pass interception. Dakota Fredrick had two and one-half sacks as he teamed up with Aidan Szczyrbak for one shared sack. Jeremiah Weidendorf had one QB sack and he had the pass pick. Adam Dragicevich had one QB sack.

Crosby-Ironton's first touchdown followed a three-and-out on the Rebels' first possession. The drive took seven plays to cover 74 yards and culminated with an eight-yard TD pass reception from Nate Sova to Eli Winegarner. An extra point kick made it 7-0, Rangers, at the 5:46 mark of the first quarter.

The Rangers' second touchdown came after a MLWR fumble and used just three plays to go 47 yards and ended on a tackle-breaking 33-yard run down the right side by Zac Myhre. The PAT kick put C-I up 14-0 with 9:08 left to play in the second quarter.

The Rangers did not convert a MLWR fumble with 3:30 left in the third quarter. Weidendorf's pass interception was at the end of that scoreless quarter.

MLWR immediately turned the ball right back over with their third fumble to start the fourth quarter. Crosby-Ironton took 10 plays to go 60 yards. The Rangers had driven to the six-yard line. Weidendorf got his QB sack to push C-I back to the 14-yard line. The Rebels stopped a run, but were flagged for a 15-yard facemask and the Rangers were advanced half the distance to the goal. Dragicevich got his QB sack. C-I settled for a 31-yard field goal for 17-0 to close out the scoring with 4:21 left in the game.

The 2-4 Rebels will be aiming to avenge last year's homecoming upset by previously winless Pine City. MLWR will need to focus and fight to get back on track, stop the fumbles and decrease the penalties to avoid getting snake-bitten again on homecoming as the Rebels host the 1-5 Dragons on Friday, October 13, in Willow River at 7 p.m.

The Rebels' last regular-season game to sharpen the skills and the will to win is an important Section 7AA contest at home against the middle-of-the-pack Aitkin Gobblers on Wednesday, October 18, at 7 p.m. in Willow River. The results of both the Pine City and Aitkin games could likely impact the seeding process for the Section 7AA playoffs that begin on Tuesday, October 24, with the higher seeds earning home field advantages.


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