Crookston did not have an answer to the Vikings' offense and could not create scoring opportunities in a 51-14 loss.
Turnovers and a pesky Pelican Rapids defense haunted the Crookston Pirates in a 51-14 loss to the Vikings on Homecoming Night.
The game started promisingly for the Pirates (2-5) with shades of complications. After holding Pelican Rapids to a punt on their first drive, Crookston proceeded to go backwards 19 yards due to two unfavorable snaps.
“We started off and we shot ourselves in the foot,” Head Coach Scott Butt said. “[Pelican Rapids] played their ends wide and we just didn’t get off the ball. We were sitting back on our heels and it wasn’t so much what they did to us as it was what we did to ourselves. We let them take it to us.”
Crookston punted away deep in their own end and a few plays later, the Vikings took the ball down the field for the opening score. The point-after attempt sailed wide left, but Pelican Rapids led 6-0 halfway through the first quarter.
On the ensuing kickoff, Jaden Lubarski (Sr. WR/DB) nearly took the ball to the house, but was tackled at the four-yard line. Brady Butt (Jr. QB) punched it in on the following play to knot up the score. The Pirates' PAT also missed and kept the score tied with 6:36 to play in quarter one.
All momentum left Crookston’s side and shifted to their opponent’s when Pelican Rapids scored on a 71-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd and 22 play.
The Pirates’ next drive dug a larger hole after an interception led to another score by the Vikings, this time on the ground.
Desperately in need of a response, Crookston turned the ball over once again through the air. Pelican Rapids repeated their previous action and capitalized on the turnover with a rushing touchdown to lead 25-6 halfway through the second quarter.
Pelican Rapids’ defense continued to stymie the Pirates’ offense which led to a punt. For the second time in the half, the Vikings aired out a lengthy pass which found the end zone for a 52-yard score. A successful kick increased the lead to 32-6.
Things did not improve for the Pirates’ offense. Pelican Rapids forced a three-and-out which led to a zero-yard punt off the side of the foot of the punter. With the short field, the Vikings scored their sixth touchdown of the game and led 39-6.
Butt believes the slow start by his team created a negative mentality in his players' heads which resulted in lapses on the field.
“We got to be mentally tougher,” Butt said. “We got to be able to overcome mistakes and we didn’t to that tonight.”
Crookston put together their best drive of the game and marched all the way to the two-yard line of the Vikings. The Pirates spiked the ball on first down, gained no yards on a run attempt, spiked the ball again and the drive ended on a fumbled snap allowing the Vikings to cruise into halftime up 39-6.
The Pirates punted straight out of the intermission and saw their best defensive play of the game when Joe Doda (Jr. CB) recovered a fumble on the Vikings' first possession of the third quarter. Crookston, however, turned the ball over on downs after the takeaway.
After a scoreless third quarter, Pelican Rapids tacked on an additional touchdown. Lukas Meier (Sr. LB) blocked the extra point, but the Vikings led 45-6 which forced a running clock as part of a mercy rule.
The bright spot for Crookston’s second half occurred when a drive ended with Meier running for a six-yard touchdown. Easton Tangquist (So. QB) followed the score with a successful two-point conversion run making the score 45-14 with 4:22 to play.
“I thought Lukas played his rear end off,” Butt said. “He played hard, he did a great job and I’m really proud of him. The one thing he doesn’t do is quit. Even when we were down with injuries, he ran hard and I think he had a great night.”
The Pelican Rapids offense refused to run out the clock and broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown run, their third score of 50 or more yards. Their two-point attempt did not find the end zone and the Vikings led 51-14, the eventual final.
When asked what caused the large touchdown plays, Butt mentioned a number of mistakes, but pinpointed poor tackling as the main reason.
“We were in the wrong gap, we were looking at the wrong things and we didn’t wrap up,” Butt said. “There were times we had them in the backfield and we just didn’t wrap up. Those big plays were a whole combination of just bad football.”
Crookston will conclude their regular season in Roseau on Wednesday, October 17 at 7 p.m.
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