Boll's 221 yards, four scores not quite enough in Crookston's 34-32 loss at Hawley
HAWLEY — Midway through the second quarter, as the Crookston offense took the field, a coach's cry rang out from the Hawley sideline.
"Thirty-eight's gonna have the ball!"
As in Ethan Boll. At that point in the game, Boll was already up to 124 yards and two touchdowns, which had given the Pirates a 16-7 lead. The Nuggets knew what was coming. They just couldn't stop it.
Two quarters later, the tables were turned: the same was true for Hawley quarterback Cole Sunde.
While Boll finished with a whopping 221 yards and four scores on 31 carries, Sunde was every bit as magnificent. He completed 11 of his 15 passes for 178 yards and four touchdowns, three of which came in an eight-minute span in the second half, rallying the Nuggets from a 24-14 deficit to an eventual 34-32 win over Crookston Friday.
"I was ecstatic with the way these kids played," said Pirate coach Scott Butt. "They played their hearts out. They did so many things well. I think what's happening is, they're starting to see the benefits of what they're doing in practice. They're starting to realize that the stuff that we're doing in practice is carrying over to games.
"We're not the biggest team, we're not the fastest team, but we play hard."
And they have Boll.
From the start of the game, the sophomore tailback simply refused to be tackled. He broke a 33-yard run down the left sideline on Crookston's second play from scrimmage, and scored on a 4th-and-goal halfway through the first quarter.
Boll would throw his pads into Hawley linebackers and knock them backwards. He would juke them out of their shoes in the open field. Whatever he tried worked.
"We blocked extremely well," Butt said. "But he ran extremely hard, and he ran patient. You can't say enough about him."
But the Pirates (1-4) also had a new offensive wrinkle to thank Friday. A rash of fumbled snaps over the past two games prompted Butt to install a direct-snap package. Boll and junior lineman Brooks Butt would line up together in the shotgun: Boll took most snaps and ran it himself, while the strong-armed Butt occasionally dropped back to pass.
The package worked to perfection on Boll's second touchdown run early in the second quarter: with Butt blocking for Boll, Boll was barely touched on a 2-yard score.
At no point was Crookston's problem offense: the Pirates more than doubled their season output, scoring their most points since 2017 and gaining their most yards since 2018. But mistakes like penalties (a season-high nine for 75 yards) and defensive breakdowns began to mount.
After Boll's first score, Hawley (3-1) drove 60 yards down the field, scoring on a 5-yard run by Sam Burkel. With two minutes before halftime, a shanked punt gave the Nuggets prime field position, and they took advantage: Sunde, with nowhere to go, heaved a ball off his back foot in the direction of Joey Aakre. Somehow, Aakre came down with the ball, spun off would-be tacklers and made his way to the house from 35 yards.
Crookston marched 79 yards down the field in the third quarter. The drive was spurred by a 20-yard catch-and-run from Gunnar Gunderson (Jr.) to Cade Coauette (Sr.), and a 37-yard run by Boll on which he bounced right, had nowhere to go and completely reversed field down the sideline. It was finished by a 2-yard run by Boll.
"The fact that we were able to step back and throw it, Gunnar threw the ball extremely well and Brooks threw it pretty darn good too," Butt said. "Being able to throw it loosens up the running game."
But then the Sunde show began.
Mason Gratton beat his man down the sideline and Sunde hit him for 42 yards, setting up a 9-yard strike to Aakre just before the end of the third. Burkel caught a screen pass from Sunde on 3rd-and-long at the Crookston 30, and no Pirate was home, allowing him to give the Nuggets their first lead. A fumbled handoff gave Hawley the ball needing just 19 yards to score, and Sunde got all of them with a laser over the middle to Carson Brew with 5:02 to play.
On Crookston's ensuing drive, Zach Brown (Sr.) made two tough, contested catches deep down the sideline to a 2-yard touchdown by Boll. The Pirate defense then stepped up to force their first 3-and-out of the game, forcing Hawley to punt them the ball back with 75 seconds left.
Alex Longoria (So.) made a leaping catch at midfield on Butt's deep throw, and it seemed that Crookston had one last gasp. But three straight incompletions later, the Nuggets were celebrating, and the spent, disappointed Pirates found themselves having to process a fourth straight loss that they — and Boll — had come oh-so-close to preventing.
"These kids committed to each other and said, 'We're gonna play to the end,' " Butt said. "The number one thing I'm taking away from it is, this is a team with a lot of heart and willing to play to the last possible snap."
UP NEXT: Crookston ends its regular season by hosting No. 5 Barnesville (5-0), the four-time defending Section 8AA champions, on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 6:00 p.m. The game was originally scheduled to take place in Barnesville, but was moved to Crookston two days ago.
Pirate athletic director Greg Garmen called it a "long story," while Barnesville AD Todd Henrickson couldn't be reached.
The Trojans have shut out two of their five opponents this season and average 39 points while allowing just 6.8 per game. They beat Breckenridge, ranked No. 8 in Class 1A, 44-22 this Friday. Last September, they rolled to a 57-0 win over the Pirates in Barnesville, one of their 12 wins in a season that ended in the state semifinals.
Hawley hosts Otter Tail Central (3-2) next Wednesday.
6:07 first quarter (Crookston): Ethan Boll 5-yard run (Ethan Boll run)
1:13 first quarter (Hawley): Sam Burkel 5-yard run (Sam Burkel kick)
9:38 second quarter (Crookston): Ethan Boll 2-yard run (Ethan Boll run)
2:35 second quarter (Hawley): Joey Aakre 35-yard pass from Cole Sunde (Sam Burkel kick)
4:02 third quarter (Crookston): Ethan Boll 2-yard run (Brooks Butt run)
0:31 third quarter (Hawley): Joey Aakre 9-yard pass from Cole Sunde (Sam Burkel kick)
7:09 fourth quarter (Hawley): Sam Burkel 30-yard pass from Cole Sunde (kick failed)
5:02 fourth quarter (Hawley): Carson Brew 19-yard pass from Cole Sunde (Sam Burkel kick)
2:31 fourth quarter (Crookston): Ethan Boll 2-yard run (Ethan Boll run)
- Crookston: Gunnar Gunderson 4-4, 60 yards, Brooks Butt 2-12, 47 yards
- Hawley: Cole Sunde 11-15, 187 yards, 4 touchdowns
- Crookston: Ethan Boll 31-221-4, Jacob Hesby 6-15, Brooks Butt 2-4, Gunnar Gunderson 3-4, Team 2-(-4)
- Hawley: Sam Burkel 20-97-1, Justin Koski 9-41, Cole Sunde 5-31, John Vetter 1-3, Bradley Olson 1-(-2), Team 1-(-2)
- Crookston: Zach Brown 2-51, Alex Longoria 1-26, Cade Coauette 1-20, Jack Garmen 1-8, Jacob Hesby 1-2
- Hawley: Mason Gratton 4-84, Joey Aakre 3-48-2, Sam Burkel 2-29-1, Carson Brew 2-26-1
- Crookston: Zach Brown 6.5 tackles (2 TFL, 1 FF), Ethan Boll 6, Jacob Hesby 3.5 (1 FR), Brooks Butt 3, Greg Gonzalez 3, Jack Doda 3 (1 FR), Jaxon Wang 2.5, Clay Hanson 2, Jacob Miller 2, Braxton Volker 1.5, Cade Coauette 1.5 (1 TFL), Ethan Bowman 1.5, Hunter Knutson 1.5, Alex Longoria 1, Ashton Larson 1, Treyden Turnwall 1
- Total yardage: Crookston 347, Hawley 355
- First downs: Crookston 14, Hawley 13
- Third-down conversions: Crookston 3-11, Hawley 4-7
- Fourth-down conversions: Crookston 2-6, Hawley 0-2
- Punting: Crookston 2-47, Hawley 1-31
- Penalties: Crookston 9-67, Hawley 6-45
- Turnovers: Crookston 1 fumble lost, Hawley 2 fumbles lost
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