The loss gives Crookston a record of 1-2 on the season.
The Pirates played stellar defense for three quarters, but the Hawley Nuggets scored 20 points in the final 12 minutes to seal the 34-14 victory.
“The defense played extremely well,” Head Coach Scott Butt said. “We were able to shut down their run game very well. I think in the fourth quarter, we ran into a very good QB and we made a couple of mistakes in alignment. Another thing was their depth took its toll on us.”
Crookston (1-2) continued to attack via the ground and put together 241 rushing yards on the night. Leyton Salentine (Jr. QB) tallied 167 of them and Lukas Meier (Sr. RB) ran for a season-high 56 yards.
The passing fell short for the Pirates who only threw for 28 yards while Hawley gained 268 yards in the air.
“Our pass game struggled for a couple reasons,” Butt said. “Hawley is a very athletic team. Their DBs are very long and run well and they did a very good job in coverage. Also, their linebackers did a good job of getting depth into passing lanes. Hawley did a good job of keeping people deep and covering under routes.”
Neither team scored in the first quarter, but eight seconds into the second quarter, the Nuggets took a 7-0 lead on a 30-yard pass play.
The Crookston defense did their job in the first half limiting Hawley to seven points, but the Pirates still trailed 7-0 at the intermission.
Hawley punched it in for a one-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to double their lead at 14-0.
Crookston answered and Salentine recorded his fouth rushing touchdown of the season with a 12-yard run in the final seconds of the third quarter. After an unsuccessful extra point attempt, Crookston trailed 14-6 entering the fourth quarter.
The momentum did not last long. Hawley retaliated with an 88-yard touchdown pass in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Crookston, beginning to match the Nuggets’ offense, came within one score again when Salentine broke loose for a 73-yard touchdown run. Salentine then threw to Meier for a two point conversion and with just under 11 minutes to play, the Pirates trailed 21-14.
After 39:33 of hanging with the Nuggets, Hawley began to wear down the Pirates. Hawley made it a two-score game with another passing touchdown and issued the dagger with a 19-yard touchdown run which put the Nuggets ahead 34-14 with 3:55 to play.
Butt and his squad lost the game, but the head coach think his team responded well to the defeat.
“In talking with the kids after the game, they believe they can play with anyone,” Butt said. “They were already talking about how they are going to build off of this game.”
Crookston will hit the road for a matchup against the Breckenridge Cowboys on Friday, September 21 at 7 p.m.
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