Big plays settled a back-and-forth battle Friday night as the Pelican Rapids Vikings notched a 36-22 victory over Wadena-Deer Creek in their Homecoming game.
Throw out a 2-0 forfeit win over Frazee this season and it had been three years since Dave Haugen's Pelican Rapids Vikings had the privilege of celebrating a victory on a football field.
"It's been a long time since we got to celebrate a win and we really don't know what to do," Haugen said following the game.
The setback was Wadena-Deer Creek's fifth of the season but the Wolverines did not leave quietly.
"It was a game of big plays and they just made a few more than we did," WDC Head Coach Howie Kangas said.
The Vikings opened the scoring in the first quarter as Josh Nehk capped an 11-play drive with Josh Nehk going over from the one. A conversion hookup between Oakley Kress and Jacob Gottenborg would compete the first half scoring by the Vikes.
After Max Phillips gave the Wolverines field position on their own 27 late in the first quarter, Jake Dykhoff engineered a 14-play march in the second quarter and kept the ball himself on a four-yard touchdown scamper. A nice defensive play by Kress broke up WDC's conversion pass play and left the Wolverines trailing 8-6.
The Vikings came right out in the second half and grabbed a 16-6 lead with Kress finding Gottenborg on a 17-yard sideline route. Kress went right back to Gottenborg to put Pelican Rapids up by 10.
Preston Warren threw the Vikings a big curve on Pelican's second possession of the third quarter when he picked off a Kress aerial and returned it 66 yards for paydirt. The Wolverines once again failed to convert and left the third quarter trailing 16-12.
Both clubs ramped it up in the fourth quarter. When Kress was sent to the sidelines after a hard hit his replacement, Damien Britten, went 20 yards on Pelican's first play from scrimmage to grab a 22-12 cushion.
The Vikings never got a decent chance to rest on their cushion as the Wolverines turned Warren loose again on the answering drive. Warren scooted up the left sideline for 70 yards on a kickoff return and the Wolverines were back in the hunt, 22-20,
Kress put some big points on the scoreboard when he deftly stepped in front of a Dykhoff pass and zipped 50 yards into the end zone. When Nehk found running room on the conversion play the Vikes were up 30-20.
The Wolverines started their answering drive at the 36 and reeled off three quick first downs before Carlen Haugrud intercepted Dykhoff in the end zone with four minutes left.
When the Vikes found themselves unable to move the ball against an aroused WDC defense they had to punt from the end zone. The punt sailed cleanly over the punter's head for a safety.
Needing a touchdown and a conversion to tie the Wolverines went to the air and this time is was Nehk picking off a Dykhoff pass and returning in 51 yards for a TD.
Haugrud led Pelican's rushing attack with 106 yards on 13 carries. Nehk logged 90 yards on 26 attempts. Matt Goeden countered for WDC with 77. Dykhoff collected 48 yards on 10 attempts. Gottenborg was Pelican's top pass-catching threat with four grabs for 78 yards, Max Phillips had four grabs n the loss for 41 yards. Ryan Anderson pulled off a big 31-yard gainer. Phillips and Steven Thomas combined for 10 solo stops while Goeden had nine assists.
Wadena-Deer Creek 0 6 6 10 - 22
Pelican Rapids 8 0 8 20 - 36
WDC: Jake Dykhoff 4 yd run (PAT failed), Preston Warren 66 yd interception return (PAT failed),
Warren 70 yard kickoff return (PAT good), Safety-Ball snapped through end zone
Pelican Rapids: Josh Nehk 1 yd run (PAT Jacob Gottenborg pass from Oakley Kress), Gottenborg 17 yd pass from Kress (PAT Nehk pass from Kress), Damien Britten 20 yd run (PAT failed), Kress 50 yd interception return (PAT Nehk run), Nehk 51 yd interception return (PAT failed)
First Downs 12 21
Yards Rushing 128 252
Yards Passing 72 87
Total Yards 200 339
Passes 5-26 5-12
Intercepted by 4 2
Fumbles lost 0 0
Penalties - 6-35