FIELD TWP- North Woods fans had reason to feel confident at halftime of Thursday’s home tilt against Deer River. The Grizzlies had a comfortable 36-14 lead, and there were few signs at that …
FIELD TWP- North Woods fans had reason to feel confident at halftime of Thursday’s home tilt against Deer River. The Grizzlies had a comfortable 36-14 lead, and there were few signs at that point that the Warriors would mount much of a challenge.
That changed dramatically in the third quarter, as the Warriors scored two touchdowns and were on the move for a third that could have given them the lead. But from the first play of the final stanza, the Grizzles owned the fourth quarter and won 48-36.
Big plays were the order of the day in the first half, with Jared Chiabotti and T.J. Chiabotti each streaking for multiple huge touchdown runs from 45 to 61 yards long. Deer River added to the long-rage scoring fest with a 49-yard touchdown pass.
But Deer River manhandled North Woods in the third quarter. The Grizzlies went nowhere on their first possession, setting the Warriors up at the North Woods 44 after a short punt. Seven plays later, the Warriors scored to cut the lead to 36-22.
A jarring tackle on the Grizzlies’ next possession forced a fumble that the Warriors recovered on the North Woods 22. It took six plays for the Warriors to score, and with the successful 2-point conversion they were back in the game, 36-30, with three minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Warriors recovered another North Woods fumble on the next series, and were confidently on the move from their own 35-yard-line to the North Woods 28, facing fourth-and-one as the quarter ended.
The Grizzlies had stopped the Warriors on fourth down on the game’s opening drive, and at a critical time they did it again. As play resumed in the fourth quarter, Carter Holman slipped his blocker and slammed into charging Warriors back Tygh Gullickson, wrestling him down a foot short of a first down.
The play crushed Deer Lake’s momentum, and North Woods methodically and relentlessly pushed the other way, running 14 plays to reach the Deer River 7-yard-line. A false start penalty on the next snap set the Grizzlies back to the 12, but then quarterback Ty Fabish connected on a pass to Olin Nelson at the 7. Nelson was hit at the 4, but pushed forward and stretched the ball across the goal line just before he hit the ground. The score put North Woods up 42-30, and the drive left little time for the Warriors to respond.
With Deer River dumping its run game and relying on the pass, North Woods defensive back Erik Aune made them pay, intercepting a pass at the Deer River 48 and running it back to the Warriors 33. After Jake Panichi bulled his way for 11 yards and a Grizzlies first down at the 15, T.J. Chiabotti hurdled a would-be tackler at the 6 and scored the team’s final touchdown on the next play to put the game out of reach.
State high school league rules put in place to protect teams from possible exposure to COVID-19 prohibit the media from having direct contact with coaches or players following games. Look for a complete game report online and in print in next week’s edition of the Timberjay.