Leyton or Cade Salentine's names were involved in every Pirates score as Crookston beat the Rams 33-19.
Carrying a 5-2 record into the final regular season game of the season, the Crookston Pirates hosted the Roseau Rams in hopes of building momentum before the section tournament. What came next was a breakout performance by Leyton Salentine as the Pirates beat the Rams 33-19.
The first points of the game came from Salentine on a touchdown pass with his older brother Cade Salentine on the receiving end. A failed extra point attempt gave Crookston a 6-0 lead halfway through the first quarter.
The Rams attempted to respond and drove down the field all the way to the Pirates’ 11-yard-line. There, the Pirates forced a fumble recovered by Brooks Butt to end the scoring threat.
Crookston then turned the turnover into points with a rushing touchdown by Cade Salentine in which the running back broke a number of tackles and capped off the run by diving into the end zone.
Trailing 12-0, Roseau retaliated with a rushing touchdown of their own four minutes into the second quarter. The point after made the score 12-7.
After a turnover on downs by the Pirates on the Roseau 20-yard-line, the Rams worked their way down the field as the clock counted down on the first half. A half back pass put the Rams on the Pirates one-yard-line with 22 seconds to play in the first half.
On the following play, Brady Butt busted through the line to make the stop behind the line of scrimmage forcing Roseau to use their final timeout. The Rams fumbled the next snap and dove on the ball to squander another play and was forced to rush to the line for the final play of the half. Nick Garmen and Jake Wagner combined for the stop and kept Roseau off the board preserving the Pirate lead heading into halftime.
In the first drive of the second half, Crookston appeared to score on a long pass, but a holding call negated the touchdown. The Pirates went on to score anyway with another rushing touchdown by Cade Salentine, his second of the game and 15th on the season.
A pair of punts by each team set Roseau up for a 70 yard touchdown run along the sidelines to keep the Rams in the game down 18-13.
Crookston managed to keep the pressure on the Rams on the ensuing drive. With Leyton Salentine at quarterback, Cade Salentine beat a few defenders and ran in the open field setting Leyton up for a perfect arc pass and a 68-yard touchdown for a 26-13 lead.
“After he broke that first tackle, I looked at Brady [Butt] and thought ‘there he goes’ and he made it,” Leyton said.
The Pirates followed their scoring drive with another forced fumble and recovery by Wagner and Leyton Salentine.
Once again, the Pirates took advantage of the turnover and scored with a rushing touchdown by Leyton Salentine to give the Pirates a 33-13 advantage as the third quarter concluded.
The performance by Leyton Salentine earned him recognition from his head coach, Scott Butt and his teammates, Ethan Magsam and Ben Trostad.
“He stepped up and had a great night,” Butt said. “The cool part was the other two quarterbacks turned to me and said, ‘he’s going to be a good one.’ Leyton played a really nice game tonight.”
Roseau made it a two score game with a touchdown with 10 minutes remaining in the game. Crookston was unable to burn much clock and punted the ball back to the Rams.
The Pirates defense kept Roseau from getting any closer and held the Rams to a turnover on downs with 2:30 remaining in the contest and sealing the sixth win of the season for Crookston.
“We found a way to grind and we did a lot of good things,” Butt said. “We just continued to do what we do. We’re not flashy and we just grind.”
The senior class of the Pirates led Crookston to a 6-2 record on the regular season and underclassmen like Leyton Salentine showed their appreciation.
“They have done an excellent job of leading us all year,” Salentine said. “This team has not been led for a long time so it’s great to see that happen.”
The Pirates enter the Section 8AA Tournament as the three seed and will host the first game in the quarterfinals on Tuesday, October 24 at 6 p.m.