Fumbles, injuries cost Crookston in 32-0 loss to physical Otter Tail Central
The words out of Scott Butt's mouth Friday weren't all that different from what he said after the Crookston football team fell 24-6 at West Central Area/Ashby two weeks prior.
"They're a big, physical team," the Pirates' coach said then. "... The game just was a matter of them beating us up."
Return to Friday night, as Butt recounted his team's second straight defeat — a 32-0 shutout at the hands of Otter Tail Central.
"We've got to be bigger and stronger," he said. "... They just physically dominated us from one end to the other."
But while the takeaway was the same, the impact of the revelation was raised by a few orders of magnitude. West Central had 240-pound North Dakota commit Jaden Norby at tailback. Otter Tail had two defensive tackles weighing a combined 600 pounds. The Knights used one steamroller. The Bulldogs used 10.
"These guys make West Central look small," Butt said.
Otter Tail Central bulldozed the Pirates into the cold ground at Ed Widseth Field, scoring four second-half touchdowns to win, 32-0, and spoil Crookston's homecoming Friday. The Bulldogs (2-2) ran for 253 yards and threw for another 85, more than tripling the Pirates' total.
It would be easy to say Crookston (1-2) never had a chance. That might have been true, but the Pirates didn't do much to help themselves. They put the ball on the ground 10 times, losing half of them — including one on their first play from scrimmage. Many of these fumbles came on botched exchanges behind center.
Those five lost fumbles, though, were partly the product of Otter Tail's sheer might at the line of scrimmage. Cian Buehler, Ethan Houselog, Joe Turchin and Mateo Lopez/Moen had their way with the Pirates' smaller linemen for most of the night.
"Their nose tackle was getting off the ball and hitting our center before we even got the ball off the ground," Butt said. "... I don't know if our quarterbacks are getting their hands in deep enough. I gotta look at it on film and hopefully I can see something, but ... we've got to take a million snaps this week."
It was on one of those snaps, in the third quarter, that junior Brooks Butt, a cornerstone of the Pirates' offensive and defensive lines, went down with an apparent left leg injury after a Bulldog came crashing into him. It didn't look like a cramp — Butt lay on the ground for over three minutes and tried to walk off using his right leg, but ultimately needed to be carried off.
Butt lined up at center on the fateful play, but he didn't start the game there. Cade DeLeon (Jr.) suffered an injury early in the game, and Greg Gonzalez (Sr.) replaced DeLeon before being banged up himself. That shuffling around up front was as big a reason as any why the Pirates couldn't find a rhythm.
If there was a turning point Friday, Butt's injury might have been it. Despite three first-half fumbles — which, in Butt's words, constituted "maybe ... the worst first half of football we've played" — the Pirates went into halftime down just 6-0.
But three minutes into the third quarter, the Bulldogs scored on a 34-yard scramble by quarterback Tanner Arndt, who torched Crookston with both his arms and legs. The junior gained 157 yards and was responsible for three touchdowns, and the Pirates especially struggled when he left the pocket.
"He's a good athlete," Butt said. "We lost contain a few times and let him get outside, and where we got in trouble there is guys trying to do more than their job."
Butt got hurt on the next drive, and Otter Tail's Drew Durbin found the end zone minutes later. On third down at the Pirate 46, Easton Tangquist (Sr.) dropped back to throw his lone pass — a screen which Brady VanErp easily jumped, picked off and took the distance.
VanErp had two touchdowns receiving, though it was his pick-six which essentially put the game away, extending the Bulldog lead to 26-0. But the game was trending away from Crookston well before that.
"Their size and their strength just took over," Butt said. "Once we lost Cade and lost Brooks, it just kept getting longer and longer, and we kept getting smaller."
That's a tough way to play against anyone — let alone Otter Tail Central.
UP NEXT: The Pirates will be back at Ed Widseth Field on Friday, Oct. 30 to take on Pillager in their final home game of the regular season. The Huskies, of Section 6AA, are 1-2 on the season, and fell to Otter Tail Central, 22-8, on Oct. 15 in their most recent game on Oct. 15.
"I told the team, I hope we don't fray," Butt said. "I hope we stay together, I hope we come back with an even harder work ethic, and just continue to fight. ... I think our kids are that resilient, that they'll just keep battling."
Pillager beat Crookston, 43-6, in Pillager last season.
Otter Tail Central has a bye week before taking on Staples-Motley (0-3) on Friday, Nov. 5.
Otter Tail Central 0-6-20-6—32
6:25 second quarter (Otter Tail Central): Brady VanErp 23-yard pass from Tanner Arndt (run failed)
9:26 third quarter (Otter Tail Central): Tanner Arndt 34-yard run (run failed)
4:38 third quarter (Otter Tail Central): Drew Durbin 3-yard run (Tyson Misegades pass from Tanner Arndt)
3:02 third quarter (Otter Tail Central): Brady VanErp 54-yard interception return (pass failed)
11:52 fourth quarter (Otter Tail Central): Brady VanErp 25-yard pass from Tanner Arndt (run failed)
- Crookston: Easton Tangquist 0-1-1, 0 yards
- Otter Tail Central: Tanner Arndt 8-13, 85 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Crookston: Easton Tangquist 18-57, Ethan Boll 9-44, Jacob Hesby 2-27, Jake Erickson 3-7, Gunnar Gunderson 4-2, Team 5-(-21)
- Otter Tail Central: Tanner Arndt 11-72-1, Drew Durbin 13-65-1, Mason Hammer 12-56, Calvin Stueve 4-39, Brady VanErp 1-10, Tyler Christensen 1-5, Jack Mekalson 2-4, Tyson Misegades 1-2
- Crookston: none
- Otter Tail Central: Brady VanErp 6-76-2, Drew Durbin 2-9
- Crookston: Ethan Boll 7 tackles (1 TFL), Jaxon Wang 5.5 tackles (1 FR), Brooks Butt 3.5 tackles, Jack Doda 3.5 tackles, Zach Brown 3.5 tackles (1 FF), Greg Gonzalez 3 tackles, Hunter Knutson 3 tackles, Jacob Hesby 2.5 tackles (1 TFL), Cade DeLeon 2 tackles, Gunnar Gunderson 1 tackle, Jacob Miller 1 tackle, Jaren Bailey 1 tackle, Karsten Isaacson 1 tackle, Omar Pettithomme 1 tackle, Alex Longoria 0.5 tackles, Braxton Volker 0.5 tackles, Cade Coauette 0.5 tackles, Clay Hanson 0.5 tackles, Ethan Bowman 0.5 tackles
- Otter Tail Central: Tanner Arndt 4 tackles, Ethan Houselog 3.5 tackles (2 TFL), Drew Durbin 3 tackles, Mason Hammer 2.5 tackles, Kayne Cameron 2 tackles, Cian Buehler 1.5 tackles, Brady VanErp 1 tackle (1 INT), Joe Turchin 1 tackle (1 FR), Ben Osesin 1 tackle, Jack Mekalson 1 tackle, Will Ehlert 1 tackle, Wyatt Severson 1 tackle, Tyson Misegades 0.5 tackles, Calvin Stueve 1 FR
- First downs: Crookston 5, Otter Tail Central 13
- Third-down conversions: Crookston 2-9, Otter Tail Central 5-10
- Fourth-down conversions: Crookston 1-2, Otter Tail Central 1-4
- Punting: Crookston 2-57, Otter Tail Central 1-34
- Penalties: Crookston 3-20, Otter Tail Central 4-25
- Turnovers: Crookston 5 fumbles lost, 1 interception, Otter Tail Central 1 fumble lost
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