BIGFORK— The Timberwolves faced a bigger and faster opponent here on Tuesday, and that was bound to make their Section 7 Nineman playoff contest a challenge. But fumbles and untimely penalties …
BIGFORK— The Timberwolves faced a bigger and faster opponent here on Tuesday, and that was bound to make their Section 7 Nineman playoff contest a challenge. But fumbles and untimely penalties just made things worse for Ely as they fell hard to the Huskies, 52-6, to end their playoff hopes early.
Bigfork’s fast and effective option offense scored virtually at will against Ely. Their scoring blitz hit the ground midway through the first quarter and it never stopped, as they built a 14-0 lead by the end of the first stanza.
Penalties foiled Ely’s offense for much of the first half as they drew flags on three consecutive third downs, halting their sputtering efforts. Leading 30-0 late in the second quarter, the Huskies picked off a Mason Davis pass and went on to add eight more points ahead of the break.
Bigfork marched down the field, gaining three first downs, to start the second half, and scored on a 26-yard run. The extra-point conversion put the Huskies up 46-0.
The Wolves started a promising possession, but a fumble, recovered by the Huskies, foiled that drive as well. The Huskies converted that miscue for another six points, to take a 52-0 lead, as the referees shifted to running time.
The Timberwolves finally got on the board late in the third quarter as they turned to their Heavy Jumbo set, which has been a reliable producer all season. Lane Anderson took the ball for five of six plays and finally bulled it into the end zone as the quarter ended with Ely down 52-6. That would prove to be the final as fumbles stymied the offense on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter.
The Huskies gained a couple more first downs before Ely forced and recovered their second fumble of the night at the goal line.
After that big play, the Timberwolves marched down the field but fumbled at the 25-yard line with two minutes left, ending the game and their season with a record of 3-3.
Bigfork was set to advance to play Mt. Iron-Buhl Saturday afternoon but anticipated moves by the Minnesota State High School League because of public health concerns over the coronavirus threatened to end all school sports activities across the state.
Ely tops L-O-W
The Timberwolves ended their regular season in Baudette last Thursday and came away with a 20-14 win over the Bears.
Junior running back Harry Simons had a breakout game, rushing ten times for 109 yards and three touchdowns in the wintry conditions. He also caught three passes for 51 yards.
Sophomore running back Jason Kerntz added 128 rushing yards of his own on 20 carries for the day, contributing to the Wolves’ 337 yards of total offense for the game.
Simons’ first score of the day came early on a one-yard rush following an Ely fumble recovery by Lane Anderson. Later in the opening quarter, Simons broke open for a 70-yard scamper to give the Timberwolves a 12-0 lead.
The Ely defense kept the Bears from scoring in the first quarter with a couple of big plays, including a critical stop on fourth down. On Ely’s next possession, Jason Kerntz broke 60-plus yards down the sideline to the 10-yard line but was called back on an illegal formation penalty. “We didn’t have enough guys on the line of scrimmage,” said Coach Cory Larson. “Then we ended up fumbling on the next play.”
The Bears finally answered with a score from 10 yards out to close the gap to 12-6 at the end of the first quarter. Both teams traded possessions in the second quarter but couldn’t score as the temperature dropped and light snow fell.
Late in the third quarter Ely put together a scoring drive that ended with Simons’ third touchdown of the night, from about 10 yards out. Kerntz converted the extra point to give Ely a 20-6 lead.
The Bears answered with a 65-yard kickoff return to score as the third quarter ended. Their two-point conversion pass made it a six-point game, 20-14.
That’s when Ely defense took over, halting the Bears on offense the rest of the way.
“We felt like we were in control the entire game,” Lassi said. “But we kept making too many mistakes and had penalties to end a good-looking drive. We averaged six yards per play but only managed to score 20 points.”
The Timberwolves also had a 35-yard touchdown pass that was dropped in the end zone. A series of mistakes with a first and goal on the one-yard line also kept Ely out of the end zone. “Making mistakes like that can’t happen if we want to move forward in the playoffs. We can’t take our foot off the gas,” said Lassi.
Lassi liked what he saw from his two 100-yard running backs. “Harry had a couple of big runs and Jason did a good job of getting some tough yards,” he said. Eddie Prijatel added 32 yards on eight carries.
Quarterback Mason Davis had four rushes for 10 yards and completed four of nine passes for 57 yards.
On defense, Kerntz led the way with 12 tackles. “We try not to put Jason out there too much on defense because he is our workhorse on offense,” Lassi said. “We weren’t getting to many stops so we put Jason in, and on his first play he met the running back at the line of scrimmage and you could hear a big ‘pop.’ That was a big play in terms of the momentum he added. “We stuck with him on defense for the rest of the game.”
Prijatel added nine tackles. Lane Anderson contributed seven tackles for the day, while Simons had six stops. Alex Cook, Riley Bishop and Brock LaTourell each posted five tackles, while Erron Anderson added four, including a drive-stopping quarterback sack.