The 2013 Pirate Homecoming football game had it all, rain, wind, big plays and high drama. Unfortunately, it didn't end in Crookston's favor as the Pirates missed an extra point in the second overtime and Pequot Lakes won 14-13.
"Defensively, we took a step forward, definitely," said Pirate head coach Scott Butt. "Offensively, we took a step forward in some areas, but we still have some work to do.
"Nate Merten was everywhere, Cody Weiland everywhere," coach Butt said of his defensive players. "Emmanuel McCullough and Parker Epema, Mikey Hajostek, Blake Bergeron, Jacob Sanchez and Michael Hefta all played well. Our front eight guys were really, really good. They brought the game I knew they could bring. Chip Lohmiller (Pequot Lakes head coach) said after the game, 'your front eight is really good.'"
Pirate junior fullback Mike Hajostek recorded 73 rushing yards on 12 carries. Senior running back Blake Bergeron had 33 rushing yards on 19 carries. Junior quarterback Aaron Hollcraft was 4-for-12 passing for 44 yards and one interception. Junior receiver Ryan Porter had three receptions for 33 yards, while senior tight end Parker Epema had one reception, a touchdown in overtime, for 11 yards.
"Mikey Hajostek ran the ball extremely hard," said coach Butt. "He had good vision and a lot of yards after contact. The footing was not overly wonderful."
Shae Ziedler led Pequot Lakes with 87 rushing yard on 18 carries. Tyler Tappe rushed for 58 yards on 14 carries.
In overtime, both teams get the ball first and goal on the ten. The Pirates opened up the extra session by Hollcraft connecting with Porter for nine yards. The Pequot Lakes defense stuffed the Pirates and forced them to kick a 22-yard field goal, which was blocked after a high snap.
"[Pequot Lakes] won the coin toss and picked defense then they got to pick which end of the field," coach Butt said of the overtime. "I'm still confused by that. We came out on our first play and we hadn't thrown much with a lot of success. We decided to run a bubble screen. Ryan (Porter) did a nice job of making people miss. Their defense stiffened up. When you have two chances to get in you should be able to get a yard. We decided to take the field goal and make them get points. The extra point earlier in the game we hammered through. It was a bad snap with a wet ball. Kicking is a three part process and if one of those is off it's all off."
The same thing happened on Pequot Lakes' possession as it connected with a nine-yard pass and the Pirate defense stepped up and held them, recovering a fumble in the end zone on fourth down.
"Our defense was flat out incredible," coach Butt said. "Especially on third and fourth downs. Give credit to Isaiah Ramirez and Jacob Oien who went in cold and got movement they got and the rest of the guys to knock the ball loose and recover. "
Page 2 of 2 - Pequot Lakes started the second overtime with the ball and Tappe punched it in from one yard out and Borleis kicked the extra point.
Crookston was in trouble on third and goal on the 11 when Hollcraft hit Epema with a pass and Epema stretched it over for the touchdown. The Pirates lined up to kick the extra point but couldn't capitalize.
"In the second OT we got what we wanted on defense first," said Butt. "The kids did a pretty good job but just didn't finish. Offensively, we did a nice job of getting the ball in the end zone. It was the same thing on our field goal but it's hard when it's raining. You have to find a way to get it done. In the back of my mind I thought about going for two and going for the win. I decided to take the safe play. I don't regret that now. It's still the right decision. Sometimes they don't go the way they're supposed to go."
The two teams didn't put up any points in the first half as the defenses were stingy and rain began falling after the first quarter.
The Pirates got on the board a minute into the third quarter when Pirate junior linebacker Cody Weiland recovered a fumble at the Patriot 11-yard line. Bergeron then took it in on the next play and junior Joey Koenig hit the extra point to put the Pirates up 7-0.
Pequot Lakes got on the board with a minute left in the third quarter when quarterback C.J. Borleis was flushed out of the pocket on a fourth and 16 play from the 22-yard line and dashed in to cap a nine-play, 47-yard drive. The extra point kick tied the score at 7-7.
The defenses stepped up again and both teams failed to capitalize on opportunities in the fourth quarter.
Pequot Lakes improves to 3-3 on the season.
After winning the season opener against Warroad, the Pirates have lost five straight. They will travel to Thief River Falls Friday, Oct. 11 to take on the 4-2 Prowlers. The regular season closes Wednesday, Oct. 16 at home against East Grand Forks.
"Other than Warroad, we haven't seen anyone in our section," coach Butt said. "I firmly believe our season is still ahead of us. After 6 games we have played five really good football teams. These three and four A teams taught us you have to play hard every play. That will carry over into the 2A schools when we're playing teams our own size, physcially and numbers-wise. Hopefully it gives us an advantage.
"Obviously we want to win both of those big time rivalry games," coach Butt continued. "We want to go up to Thief River Falls against a 4A team and play hard, play well and win the game. First, we need a win. As hard as we are playing you have to see a reward. Second, it will help our QRF and moves us up in our section playoffs. East Grand Forks is an even bigger rivalry than the TRF one. A win there helps our QRF too. We can do ourselves a favor if we can get both of these wins."