Pirates grind out 14-10 win over Roseau in season opener
With his team facing a fourth-and-7 at the 50-yard-line, Crookston coach Scott Butt kept his offense on the field.
He didn't have to. The game was just three plays old, and a good punt would have pinned Roseau deep in their own territory. The Pirates weren't strapped for a score.
Butt, however, thought the reward outweighed the risk of not converting.
"We just said, heck it," Butt said. "I told (assistant coach Darin Zimmerman) before we even got there, we're going for it if we're over the 50 on fourth down."
Easton Tangquist took the snap, rolled to his right and fired a dart to Zach Brown (Sr.) right at the sticks. First down, Crookston.
Twelve plays later, the Pirates were in the end zone.
With its opening drive — a churning, 16-play, 53-yard trek that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Ethan Boll (Fr.) — Crookston set the tone for a 14-10 victory over Roseau in its season opener Saturday afternoon at Ed Widseth Field.
"We came into this week saying if we ground the ball and keep getting first downs, we're gonna be comfortable," said junior lineman Brooks Butt. "If we do that, we're gonna put ourselves in position to win. We came in with that gameplan and we executed really well."
The style that the Pirates played Saturday isn't meant for swift evisceration. It's death by a thousand cuts. They didn't gain more than eight yards on any one play in the first quarter, instead chipping off positive gain after positive gain.
It also ate up massive amounts of the clock. By the time Boll plunged to paydirt, the first quarter was almost over — Crookston's opening drive lasted 10 minutes and 40 seconds.
Meanwhile, the Pirates' defense held firm, getting penetration up the middle from Butt, Boll, Cade DeLeon (Jr.) and others. The Rams lost yardage on 13 plays — a whole third of their plays from scrimmage.
"Our front guys played really well," Butt said. "They got after everybody, they did a great job getting off the ball, and they just kept coming."
Crookston and Roseau exchanged stops on defense for much of the next two quarters before the Pirates started moving the ball late in the third quarter. This drive wasn't quite as lengthy as their first, but it was just as effective — and even included a crucial fourth-down conversion of its own, when Tangquist (Sr.) hit Boll for 18 yards on fourth-and-6 from the Roseau 20.
Boll and Tangquist traded off carries throughout the 12-play sequence, but it was Tangquist who made it 14-0, keeping it himself and slicing through the Rams defense for an 8-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter, running in the 2-point conversion as well.
"(The offensive line was) really quick off the ball," Tangquist said. "They blocked until the play was dead. Even if it wasn't their spot, they blocked their guy and they held their blocks the whole time."
But Roseau wasn't finished. While it couldn't find much consistency, it made enough big plays to get back in the game. After a blocked Crookston punt, Steele Walsh bounced outside and took it to the house from 15 yards out with five minutes remaining, and the Rams' 2-point try was successful.
Tangquist fumbled with two minutes to play, giving Roseau one last shot. On 4th-and-12, Race Knochenmus hit Jed Dunham down the sideline for 34 yards to the Crookston 16. But the Pirates brought pressure two plays later, forcing Knochenmus to loft a pass into no man's land — where senior Jaxon Wang came down with a leaping interception.
"Our older kids stepped up and just said, 'Hey, this is what we have to do,' " Butt said. "They got the younger kids going and they made up their minds. 'Hey, we're not gonna lose this.' "
Crookston ran the clock down to eight seconds, and on fourth down, killed the rest of the clock by having Tangquist run around and take a safety. A Pirate penalty gave Roseau an untimed down, which took the form of a post-safety free kick, but the Crookston snuffed out the Rams' lateral attempts.
While Butt thought his team got "complacent" in letting Roseau threaten late, the Pirates executed his preferred methodical, grinding style well, and buckled down when it counted. Taking all that into account, it would have been hard to call the coach anything but happy.
"We did a really good job for three and a half quarters," he said. "There at the end, we gotta get in better shape and we shouldn't have ever really got in that position. ... Young kids make mistakes, just like old kids make mistakes, just like pros make mistakes. And you live and you learn and you get better at them."
UP NEXT: The Pirates will be in Barrett this Friday, Oct. 9, to take on West Central Area/Ashby. The Knights won at Otter Tail Central, 30-18, in their season opener Saturday.
Last season, Crookston played West Central Area — then ranked No. 9 in the state — at home, falling 14-6 on a Knight touchdown in the final seconds.
- 1:20 first quarter (Crookston): Ethan Boll 3-yard run (run failed)
- 11:54 fourth quarter (Crookston): Easton Tangquist 8-yard run (Tangquist run)
- 5:06 fourth quarter (Roseau): Steele Walsh 15-yard run (Race Knochenmus pass to Maverick Jacobson)
- 0:00 fourth quarter (Roseau): Safety
- Crookston: Easton Tangquist 5-9, 44 yards, Gunnar Gunderson 0-1, 0 yards
- Roseau: Race Knochenmus 5-7-1, 74 yards, Jed Dunham 2-4, 18 yards
- Crookston: Ethan Boll 19-77-1, Easton Tangquist 18-27-1, Jaxon Wang 6-17, Hunter Knutson 1-0
- Roseau: Aiden Walsh 10-30, Jed Dunham 5-30, Steele Walsh 2-15-1, Race Knochenmus 11-(-53)
- Crookston: Ethan Boll 3-33, Zach Brown 2-11
- Roseau: Jed Dunham 3-74, Steele Walsh 3-18, Race Knochenmus 1-0
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