Pirates Football Closes Out Regular Season with 32-7 Win
In a battle of 2-5 teams, the Crookston Pirates came out on top, as they defeated the Staples-Motley Cardinals 32-7 on Wednesday, October 20.
Despite heavy rain during the game, the Pirates were able to overcome the elements and put up 250 total yards of offense, all from rushing.
Head coach Nate Lubarski knew the weather could be a factor ahead of time but encouraged his players to work through it.
“We talked before the game about not letting the weather beat you,” Lubarski said. “It’s the same for both teams. We are getting mentally tougher as a team.”
The Cardinals received the opening kickoff but were unable to move the ball, as the Pirates defense forced a three-and-out.
In their first possession, quarterback Jack Doda ran 16 yards for a first down. In the next set of downs, the Pirates elected to pass to Cade DeLeon on both third and 10 and fourth and 10, but both passes were incomplete, forcing a turnover on downs.
The Pirates forced another three-and-out and received the punt on the Cardinals’ 44-yard line. Running back Ethan Boll ran for a first down on second and 2, and on the next play exploded for a 23-yard touchdown. Boll then completed the 2-point conversion, putting the Pirates ahead 8-0.
The special teams helped create another scoring opportunity as Hunter Knutson blocked the Cardinals’ punt, and Jacob Hesby returned it to the Cardinal 3-yard line.
Boll ran for the touchdown and Hesby scored on the 2-point conversion to increase the Pirates’ lead to 16-0.
After another three-and-out for Staples-Motley, Crookston started the second quarter with a drive all the way down to the Cardinal 9-yard line but was unable to score.
On their subsequent possession, the Cardinals attempted two passes before senior Brady Wisk intercepted the ball and ran it back for a pick 6. Boll ran the ball for the 2-point conversion to put the Pirates up 24-0.
With the defense on the field, sophomore Antonio Romero made the Pirates’ second interception of the game and ran it 47 yards down to the Cardinal 22-yard line.
Forced to throw on a third and long, Doda threw an interception to the Cardinal defense. It didn’t come back to haunt him, as Romero once again picked off the pass from Staples-Motley quarterback Isaiah Schultz.
Coming into the game, the Crookston defense was prepared for a lot of passing.
“We certainly worked more pass coverage in practice this week,” Lubarski said. “Kids made good reads and great plays.”
The Pirates ran the clock out to finish the second quarter.
Neither team scored in their first possessions of the second half. With their second possession, however, Crookston scored again.
A combination runs of Boll, Romero and Hesby marched the Pirates downfield. Hesby finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown, and Doda kept the ball for the 2-point conversion. With one minute left in the third quarter, Crookston led 32-0.
After the Cardinals’ punt, the Pirates got the ball with 11:06 left in the fourth quarter. The offense continued to run the ball down the field, highlighted by a 20- and 29-yard run from Romero.
Although they didn’t score, the Pirates turned the ball over on downs with just 3:24 left on the clock.
Looking to avoid the shutout, Schultz exploded for a 78-yard run, finally brought down by sophomore Evin Trudeau. On third and 7, Cardinal running back Hunter Martin ran 12 yards for the touchdown. The extra point was good, as Staples-Motley put 7 points on the board.
The Cardinals attempted two onside kicks, as the first was brought back for not traveling the minimum 10 yards and the second for a false start on the kicking team. Staples-Motley ended up punting, and Crookston was able to run the rest of the clock off.
Four different players contributed to Crookston’s 250 rushing yards. Boll had 21 carries for 110 yards, Romero ran for 78 yards on 9 carries, Hesby had 11 carries for 42 yards, and Doda ran the ball 8 times for a total of 20 yards.
Lubarski was happy to offensive success from multiple people.
“It is great to have that combination of backs,” Lubarski said. “The success of the run game begins and ends with our guys up front. They continue to grow together as a unit and are playing better each week.”
The Pirates play their first playoff game Tuesday, October 26 with its opponent and location to be determined.