Crookston defeated the Flyers 40-18 after a game with a running time of 17.5 hours.
For the first time in many years, the Crookston Pirates were the home team for a playoff game. This time, they welcomed the Bagley Flyers to Ed Widseth Field for a Section Quarterfinals matchup. Bagley came in owning a 5-3 record and Crookston entered the game posting a 6-2 record on the season. The teams had not seen each other since the previous season at the same level of the postseason where Bagley defeated the Pirates. With six minutes to go and leading 40-18, it looked as if Crookston’s revenge was locked up. But after a blackout on the field, the last six minutes were postponed to the following day at 11 a.m. where the Pirates closed out the game with a long drive and a defensive stop to win 40-18.
To senior running back Cade Salentine, a chance to end the Flyers' season this time around fueled the Crookston players.
"That’s all we were thinking about coming into this game was revenge from last year,” Salentine said. “We came into this game looking forward to doing what we do best which is sticking it to them and we accomplished that.”
With the offenses trading blows, the beginning of the game suggested the Pirates would be in store for a slugfest. The Pirates received the opening kickoff and marched right down the field for the opening score on a touchdown run by Leyton Salentine, who got the start at quarterback. The Pirates could not convert on the extra point and led 6-0 with eight minutes left in the first quarter.
Bagley responded quickly with a drive of their own capped off by a fourth and goal touchdown run from the one yard line. The Flyers point after attempt also failed to go through the uprights and the game remained tied as the first quarter wound down.
With the pressure on to keep scoring, Crookston put together a drive that took them to the red zone. This time, the older of the Salentines, Cade, finished the drive with a touchdown run with 1:06 remaining in the first quarter.
Head Coach Scott Butt praised the Salentine boys for their contribution on offense.
“It’s an absolute ball,” Butt said. “It puts so much pressure on the defense because they have to decide which one they’re going to have to stop. It’s a whole lot of fun to watch the two of them out there.”
Cade Salentine welcomes the brotherly competition saying it gives him a chance to rest and watch his brother play.
"For me it’s kind of nice to be on the sidelines and watch someone else run it in,” Salentine said. “The work load is a little lighter for me so that way I can go harder on defense. It just makes our whole offense better.”
Leyton Salentine was removed from the quarterback position in the middle of the game after he hit his ulnar nerve, but Butt says he will be ready to play the next game.
Although the game was only in the second quarter, it had the feeling that the first team to stop the other would be the team to win. With that in mind, Bagley answered Crookston’s score with the game’s fourth rushing touchdown and their second. The Flyers elected to try for the two point conversion, but was stopped by the Pirates defense and the score stayed tied at 12-12.
At this point in the game, neither team recorded a single punt. The Pirates refused to break that streak. Cade Salentine scored his second rushing touchdown of the game and 17th of the season. After a fumble on the two point conversion, the Pirates led the Flyers 18-12 with 7:56 to play in the first half.
For the first time all game, the Crookston defense stopped a Bagley drive on the ensuing possession. The Flyers were forced to punt giving the Pirates a chance to take control of the game. And take control they did with another Salentine rushing touchdown this time courtesy of Leyton. To add on to his second rushing touchdown of the game, Leyton Salentine beat a Flyer tackler to the pylon for the two point conversion and a 26-12 Crookston lead with just over a minute remaining in the first half.
The Pirates’ defense did not miss a step forcing a turnover on downs to open the second half. After a missed field goal by Crookston and another Bagley punt, Crookston gained an opportunity to extend their lead.
Butt commented on the difference in the Pirates defense between the first and second half.
“I think eventually what happened was we wore them down, "Butt said. “We got after them pretty good up front. Stopping Cade is hard physically cause he just runs at you and it hurts to tackle him.”
Cade Salentine continued the strong running game for the Pirates scoring yet another rushing touchdown. Jackson Seibel added an extra point and Crookston owned a commanding 33-18 lead as the third quarter reached an end.
In a must-score situation, Bagley drove down the field and appeared to inch closer with a touchdown, but an illegal shift penalty negated the score. A few plays later, the Flyers scored on a touchdown pass to the back of the endzone to draw closer with the score now 33-18 and eight minutes to play.
Crookston planned to utilize their surging run game and kill some clock to seal the win. What followed worked just fine for the Pirates. Cade Salentine broke loose for a 55 yard touchdown run down the right sideline. A successful extra point by Seibel for a 40-18 lead and 7:45 left in the game put Crookston in an optimal spot to advance.
After Salentine’s 19th rushing touchdown of the season, a single light went out. No one thought anything of it until a few minutes later when all the lights illuminating the stadium went black. The power outage forced the game to be called for the evening even though six minutes remained. The head coaches agreed to continue the contest at 11 a.m. the following day.
The Pirates came out to Les Drechsel Field the next day and closed out the win with a long drive to eat clock. As Bagley called their final timeouts to ensure a final offensive drive, Crookston saw it as an opportunity to send in substitutes to play in a playoff game. Eventually, the clock ran to zero and the Pirates earned the playoff win.
This is the third time in seven years a game was canceled or could not be completed at Ed Widseth Field. The previous two instances were due to field conditions. But for senior Tim Parr, the ecstasy of the win did not diminish.
“It feels great,” Parr said. “I wasn’t expecting to play a game on Wednesday in the morning. But sure enough, we were out here and we won. It was fun.”
Up next for the Pirates is a date with Barnesville in the Section Semifinals. Entering the section tournament, Barnesville sat at the two seed. Barnesville beat Crookston earlier in the season 40-20 in a game that remained close until halfway through the fourth quarter.
For Cade Salentine and the Pirates, they hope to redeem themselves after the regular season loss and advance to the section finals in the Fargodome.
“We just have to clean up the mistakes,” Salentine said. “Turnovers are going to be a big factor in this game. We just have to make sure we’re going hard every single play and play every one like it’s our last because it could be. We’re looking forward to our chance to get to the dome so we’re bringing everything we can.”