Pirate senior Josh Edlund had an 85-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to begin Friday's game with long-time rival Thief River Falls and three minutes later had a 54-yard touchdown run to put the Pirates up 12-0. The Prowlers fought back, though, and pulled out a 39-25 win at Ed Widseth Field.
"We played well and had a good lead," Pirate Head Coach Scott Butt said. "We just weren't able to finish. This is a hard one to swallow. We learned we can play with 4A teams, though, and we learned we can compete with 4A teams."
Pirate senior Alex Boone did a little bit of everything and did it well. He had six receptions for 97 yards; he rushed for 48 yards on seven carries and threw one pass for a 13-yard touchdown.
Edlund finished with 73 yards rushing on ten carries. Senior quarterback Dylan Klatt was 11 for 22 passing with 130 yards and two interceptions. Senior receiver Seth Solheim had four receptions for 34 yards and a touchdown.
The Pirate defense allowed 370 total yards to the Prowlers, which had 302 rushing yards.
Thief River Falls won the battle of turnovers, intercepting two passes and recovering two fumbles. Crookston recovered two fumbles.
"I didn't think we played as bad as it looked like on defense," said Coach Butt. "We just couldn't get that big stop to get off the field. We look for the big hit and have to make sure we just wrap up and tackle. I really thought our D, for the most part, played a good game. They got better as the game went on. They did a lot of really good things. We were in their backfield an awful lot tonight. A couple times I thought Josh (Edlund) would take the handoff before the running back did."
Coach Butt said his team needs to improve on the little things.
"If you take care of the small things, big things will take care of themselves," he said. "Taking care of the football, not jumping offsides, little things. We want to put ourselves in a lot of good positions and we did a lot of good things.
"One of the things to take a look at is that we have 19 seniors," Coach Butt continued. "We are young in that not a lot of guys have a lot of experience. What they're doing this year is they're learning. Those little things will come with experience. We can only get better."
Edlund's opening kickoff return was caught by Boone, who handed it off. Edlund then bolted down the Pirate sideline before cutting to the middle of the field and going in for the score.
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"We've been real close all year long," Coach Butt said of returning a kickoff. "We finally hit it tonight. We blocked it as well as we have all year. Josh did a great job of hitting the seam and getting behind the wall. That's a big way to start a game."
After a Prowler stalled drive, at the five-yard line Klatt hit Boone with a 38-yard pass play. Two plays later, Klatt connected on a pass with Solheim, who lateraled it to Edlund, who housed it down the Prowler sideline for a 54-yard touchdown and a 12-0 lead.
"We call that pass to Boone X circus," noted Coach Butt. "That gave us some momentum early. Then we had Edlund's play set up perfectly. It was a hitch and pitch and we decided we'd do it early because we didn't think they'd be expecting it. Their guy came in to fill hard on the hitch and before he could realize it Josh had ball. It was a pretty good way to start the game."
But the Prowlers did not quit.
"They didn't give up, they came to play," Coach Butt said. "They got rocked on their heels right away and came back and fought."
Thief River Falls answered Crookston's early 12-0 lead with a one-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Nick Hoffard with 4:28 left in the first quarter and a two-point conversion.
The Prowlers then scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Hoffard to senior Alex Johnson with 7:08 left in the second quarter. The first half was capped with Prowler 63-yard drive and a five-yard touchdown run by Brown with seven seconds remaining. Two-point conversions on both second-quarter scores put the Prowlers up 24-12.
The ball went to Thief River Falls to start the second half and they scored on a 66-yard drive with a 24-yard run by Brown with 8:32 left in the third quarter to go up 31-12.
Crookston finally had an answer, though, and capped a 55-yard drive with a three-yard Boone touchdown run with 5:49 left in the third quarter to make it 31-18.
Following a Prowler three and out, Boone tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to Solheim with 2:05 left in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 31-25.
Crookston blocked a field goal attempt on the next Thief River Falls possession but went three and out and the Prowlers responded with a 30-yard touchdown run by senior running back Blake Kuznia with 8:27 left in the fourth quarter. Another two-point conversion made it 39-25.
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Prowler junior running back Ian Lund rushed for 118 yards on 28 carries, while junior TyJaun Brown had 63 rushing yards on eight carries and two touchdowns.
Thief River Falls improves to 3-4 on the season.
The Pirates fall to 3-4 on the season and will close out the regular season Wednesday, Oct. 17 at home against Detroit Lakes, who is undefeated at 7-0.
"We'll tell the kids the same thing we told them this week," said Coach Butt. "'Yeah, they're a 4A school but they're high school kids just like you. Yeah, they're a bigger school and they have more kids than we do. But we have just as good a chance as they do to win the game. Look at this week, we were intimidated when we played East Grand Forks and we got over the hump tonight. We found out we can compete with them."