COVID-abbreviated season ends with 5-1 record for Vikings
The Pelican Rapids Vikings hosted the Hawley Nuggets in what was supposed to be the Section 8AA Semifinals.
However, due to the rise in Covid-19 cases, the fall high school sports season was coming to an end after the conclusion of Friday’s game.
“It’s a very unusual situation for varsity athletes to go into a game knowing that it will be the last game of the season and for the seniors the last game of their career,” noted Coach Dave Haugen. “Nobody really knew what to expect in terms of focus and motivation of the players in a game that had no real consequence in terms of winning or losing. We talked going into the game about having fun, making memories and that the fun and memories are both better when you work hard giving yourself a chance to play well and have success.”
The Vikings showed that they were both focused and motivated as they finished off the season with a 40-14 win.
The Vikings defense had a strong start to the game as they forced Hawley to punt on the opening possession after gaining only gaining 6 yards on 3 plays. Pelican Rapids turned the ball right back to the Nuggets on a lost fumble near midfield and the visitors were ready to get to work. Hawley put together good drives on their next two possessions.
On the first of the two they got inside the Vikings 20 yard line only to have the Pelican Rapids defense come up with a couple of good plays forcing Hawley into a field goal attempt.
The next possession for Hawley followed the exact same script. A good drive inside the Vikings 20 that stalled out. Both drives ended with missed field goal attempts.
In between the drives Pelican Rapids got on the first touchdown of the game and started showing that they were the stronger and better team.
The first scoring drive of the game covered 80 yards and used 12 plays. A key play on the drive was a 4th and 1 quarterback sneak. The offensive line flexed their muscles and cleared the way for a successful 4th down conversion. The drive ended with a 17 yard touchdown run by McHale Korf. The PAT kick was good by Alex Lynnes the Vikings were up 7-0.
After the second missed field goal by the Nuggets the Vikings were set up again for another 80 yard drive. This time the touchdown drive needed only 7 plays. Two big plays on the drive were a 25 yard pass completion t Logan Fahje and a 30 yard run by Korf. The touchdown came on a 1 yard run by Johnny Ziebell. The kick failed but the Vikings were up 13-0.
Pelican Rapids put the game away at the end of the first half and start of the second half.
After a Hawley punt the Vikings took over with 1:49 left in the half. While the Vikings had a great night of running the ball this drive showed their ability to move the ball through the air. 8 yard completion to Fahje, 30 to Hunter Williams and 14 to Johnny Ziebell set up the 6 yard touchdown pass from Korf to Williams with 3 seconds left in the half. Lynnes was good on the PAT kick giving Pelican Rapids a 20-0 lead at halftime.
Pelican Rapids received the ball to start the second half and essentially put the game away with another touchdown drive. The ten play 68 yard drive used nearly 4 and a half minutes. The final play of the drive was a 1 yard run by Carson McNeal and the PAT kick by Alex Lynnes put the Vikings up 27-0.
The next scoring drive for Pelican Rapids started at it’s own 5 yard line after the Hawley punt pinned them deep. The drive consisted of all run plays except for one big pass. Facing a third and 13 from their own 2 yard line McHale Korf connected with Jayden Rutherford who made a great catch sprinting down the right sideline for a 71 yard gain that kept the drive alive and flipped the field in one play. Korf ended the drive with his second touchdown run of the game this time from 8 yards out and another Lynnes kick put the Vikings up 34-0.
Hawley was able to put together a couple of late scoring drives to get on the board in the fourth quarter but it wasn’t nearly enough to threaten the outcome of the game.
The final touchdown of the season belongs to Justin VerDorn as he ran in from the 3 yard line for a 40-8 final score.
Pelican Rapids had 480 yards of offense with 300 of it coming from the running game.
“You don’t have offensive numbers like that unless you are getting a great game from the offensive line,” said Coach Haugen. “That group consisting of Weston Funk, Levi Johnson, Liam Sytsma, Isaac Olson and Nick Haugrud did a great job of getting a push on the line and creating some nice running lanes for the backs.”
Defensively Pelican Rapids didn’t force any turnovers, but did have several stops for no gain or a loss that put the Hawley offense into uncomfortable spots all game long.
“I think tonights game was evidence of a group of football players that have committed to being in the weight room for several years and games like this one are a reward for great effort when no one is watching or cheering for themduring summer workouts.”
Dave Haugen, head coach
Pelican Rapids High School football
Pelican Rapids stats vs. Hawley Nov. 20
McHale Korf 20-178 yds, 2 TD
Johnny Ziebell 14-85 yds, 1 TD
Justin VerDorn 2-10 yds 1 TD
Carson Mcneal 2-4 yds 1 TD
McHale Korf 9-13-180 yds, 1 TD, 1 Int
Jayden Rutherford 1-71 yds
Logan Fahje 3-42 yds
Hunter Williams 2-36 yds, 1 TD
Carson McNeal 2-17 yds
Johnny Ziebell 6 solo tackles,
Justin VerDorn 5 solo, 1 assist, 1 tackle for loss
Tommy Thach 3 solo, 1 assist
Carson McNeal 1 solo, 4 assist, 1 tackle for loss
Carter Johnson 2 solo, 1 assist