Perham senior quarterback Jordan Hein scored two touchdowns and rushed for 208 yards on 27 carries to lead the Yellowjackets, ranked No. 4 in Class AAA, in a 26-14 win over Crookston Friday at Ed Widseth Field, spoiling the Pirate Homecoming on a bitterly cold and windy evening.
Pirate senior running back Josh Edlund was just as electric as Hein, rushing for 187 yards on 25 carries with one touchdown.
"You never want to look at anything as a moral victory," Pirate Head Coach Scott Butt said after the game. "If we don't have so many penalties I think we really put ourselves in position to win. We found out we belong with good teams. I think we found out, 'hey, we're not a bad team; we're a very good football team.' We deserve to be a good football team. This can only help our confidence. The scoreboard says two touchdowns but it wasn't a two-touchdown game. We gave the number four team in the state the best battle that they could've gotten."
But was this just a battle between two superstars?
"A lot of people tried to make it into that," Coach Butt said. "I didn't. It was a battle of two teams that had two really good players on it. Their kid is a pretty darn good player. We have a pretty good player too. You can't focus on just a battle of those two. This was a game where two teams were going to get after each other."
It came down to penalties and defense, though, and the Pirates were charged with eight penalties for 59 yards and the Yellowjacket defense made stops when it had to.
"Penalties have been a problem all year," Coach Butt said. "We've, for some reason, had penalties all year long. In some games we've been able to overcome them but in this game we weren't able to."
Pirate senior quarterback Dylan Klatt rushed for 51 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. He was 5 of 12 passing for 68 yards. Pirate senior receiver Alex Boone had three receptions for 52 yards.
"One thing about this team I'm noticing, they don't spend lot of time looking at the scoreboard," Coach Butt said of his squad. "They're playing and playing hard. We don't worry about the scoreboard. We spend a lot of time talking about 'don't look at the scoreboard, work hard and at end we'll take a look and it will take care of itself."
Crookston started out strong, pushing Perham to three and out on its opening drive and Klatt running in an 11-yard touchdown with 7:59 left in the first quarter. The score was set up by a 23-yard reception by Boone.
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Perham tied it up with 10:28 left in the second quarter on a 30-yard touchdown run by Hein.
Penalties squashed the Pirate drives before and after Perham's tying touchdown, though.
Hein gave the Yellowjackets the lead with 3:41 remaining in the half with an eight-yard touchdown run. The failed extra point left Perham's lead at 13-7.
"We talked at halftime that last week we were behind at halftime," Coach Butt explained. "We're alright; we're not in bad shape. The kids were jacked up, ready to go. The kids really believed they had a chance to win the game."
To start the second half, Perham went to Hein, who ate up big chunks of yards. Austin Erickson capped the 50-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run with 7:53 remaining in the third, making it 19-7.
The Pirates answered with Edlund rushing for 66 yards of the 82-yard drive. Edlund finished it off with a two-yard touchdown run with 4:47 remaining in the third quarter.
With Crookston trailing 19-14, it was still anybody's ball game.
However, Hein and the Yellowjackets wouldn't be denied another score, converting on several third downs. Payton Jordahl capped it with 11:55 left to play, giving Perham its 26-14 lead.
The Pirates looked to answer on their next possession and had the ball second and five on the eight-yard line, knocking on the door of the end zone. Two incomplete passes and a stuffed run, though, gave Perham the ball back.
The Yellowjackets then ate up about seven minutes on an 18-play drive to seal the Section 8AAA and Heart O' Lakes Conference win.
"Perham did a great job, took the ball and ran the clock out on us," said Coach Butt. "They forced us to use timeouts in the fourth. We had some momentum but didn't get the score on the next drive. If we can make it 26-21 there was a lot of time left. Perham did a good job of milking the clock. We couldn't get the stop we needed. They realized they would have hard time stopping us; we were running the ball at them pretty good."
Perham improves to 4-0 on the season.
Crookston, now 2-2, will travel to Breckenridge next Friday to meet up with the Cowboys.