Football: Late touchdown drive lifts Pine River-Backus over Wadena-Deer Creek

The Pine River-Backus Tigers hosted the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines in a regular-season finale. The Tigers drove 99 in their final drive to knock off the Wolverines before the Section 6-2A playoffs.

WDC FB 2-copy.jpg
Teshe Loer runs the ball in the Wolverines' loss against Pine River-Backus on Oct. 19, 2022.
Lena Richards / Wadena Pioneer Journal

PINE RIVER — With 5:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Pine River-Backus Tigers took possession of the football.

PRB stopped the Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines on fourth and goal at the 1-yard line. Meaning the Tigers started their final drive on their own 1. Twelve plays and 99 yards later PRB scored with 21 seconds left to defeat WDC 21-17 Wednesday, Oct. 19.

The Wolverines outgained PRB 357 to 201, but it was the Tigers who had the ball trailing 17-14 with 5:18 remaining and PRB head coach Tom Demars was not going to give the ball back to the opponent.

On the first play of the drive, Irvin Tulenchik plowed forward for 5 yards to give the Tigers some breathing room. The next play saw Ethan Lodge spit out of the line of scrimmage and sprint 16 yards for a first down.

Tulenchik then rushed for 1 yard followed by a screen play from Tulenchik to Chance Abraham that only went 3 yards. On third and 6, Tulenchik’s pass went incomplete forcing Demars to make a decision on fourth and 6.


“Absolutely, the thought of punting was there because we were deep in our own territory, but at the same time I didn’t know if we would get the ball back if we did punt it,” Demars said. “Wadena was moving the ball pretty well and I didn’t want to see their offense back on the field. That’s why we went for it when we did.”

On the play, Tulenchik attempted to find his favorite target Rian Struss and the play worked as it forced a pass interference penalty and a first down.

On the next play, Lodge busted for a 22-yard run. He then went for four more yards to surpass 100 for the game. Lodge finished with 102 yards on 12 carries.

Chance Abraham then barreled forward for five yards followed by a loss of two yards. Tulenchik then gained back those 2 yards to set up a third and goal.

That’s when Tulenchik found Eli Abraham for a 7-yard touchdown with 21 seconds remaining. Chance Abraham kicked the extra point for the final score.

“I looked at the clock at that time and I really didn’t want to give the ball back to them,” Demars said. “The way they were moving the ball all night, even though they didn’t score in the second half, I didn’t want to see them get the ball back with good field position and much time on the clock.

“It couldn’t have worked out any better for us. I tried to take our time a little bit and it worked out perfectly for us. We were fortunate to have a few big plays and a big fourth down with a penalty we were fortunate enough to get. We’ll take it.”

A Tulenchik interception set up PRB’s first touchdown of the second half. The pick came on the Tigers' 35, but a big 41-yard pass to Struss set up Tulenchik to carry the ball in from 3 yards out and a 17-14 score.


“A lot of the kids we have out here have played a lot of football so they understand things,” Demars said. “They could see where we were. We felt confident in the second half that we would score some more points. We stuck together and worked our tails off and got the win.”

The first half belonged to WDC, which scored 10 points before PRB’s offense even took the field. The Wolverines opened with a 13-play, 79-yard drive capped off by Isaac Hamann’s 3-yard touchdown pass to Tyson Barthel.

WDC then recovered an onside kick to set up Cole Woods 27-yard field goal for the 10-point advantage.

PRB answered in the second quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run from Brady Ruhl, but WDC pushed its lead to 17-6 after it recovered a Tigers fumble. One play later Evan Lunde scored from 5 yards out.

Lunde finished with 91 yards rushing on 20 carries. Hamann, filling in for WDC’s injured starting quarterback, finished 12-of-23 passing for 153 yards. He also scrambled 10 times for 38 yards.

“Isaac did a great job,” W-DC head coach Kyle Petermeier said. “He’s a captain for a reason. He stepped in having never played quarterback before. He’s a great kid and has a lot of experience, especially making deep runs in baseball. We thought we could rely on him to lead the team and he did that.

“Evan played really well in the wildcat position where he carries most of the load. He had a lot of carries, but I’m just proud of everybody for stepping up. I thought we played a really good game, but obviously, things didn’t go our way, which happens in sports. Like I told the team, the good thing about the clock going down to zero is that the playoffs start now and every team is 0-0.”

Wadena-Deer Creek 10 7 0 0 -- 17

Pine River-Backus 0 6 8 7 -- 21

First quarter

WDC-Tyson Barthel 3 pass from Isaac Hamann (Cole Woods kick) 5:36

WDC-Woods 27 field goal 2:31

Second quarter

PRB-Brady Ruhl 7 run (kick failed) 8:33

WDC-Evan Lunde 5 run (Woods kick) 3:59

Third quarter

PRB-Irvin Tulenchik 3 run (Ethan Lodge pass from Tulenchik 6:30

Fourth quarter

PRB-Eli Abraham 7 pass from Tulenchik (Chance Abraham kick) 21.0

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: PRB 30-130, WDC 45-204

Pass comp-att-int-yds: PRB 6-8-0-71, WDC 12-23-2-153

Total offense: PRB 38-201, WDC 68-357

Individual leaders

Rushing: PRB-Ethan Lodge 12-102, Chance Abraham 5-24, Brady Ruhl 3-14, Irvin Tulenchik 10-(-10); WDC-Evan Lunde 20-91, Isaac Hamann 10-38, Teshe Loer 5-37, Simon Kreklau 6-34, MJ Lunde 2-4, D’andre Hammon 2-0

Passing: PRB-;Tulenchik 6-8-71 WDC-Hamann 12-19-153, Teshone Loer 0-2-0, Tyson Barthel 0-1-0

Receiving: PRB-Rian Struss 1-41, Lodge 2-15, Chance Abraham 2-8, Eli Abraham 1-7; WDC-Teshe Loer 5-60, Tyson Barthel 3-45, MJ Lunde 3-38, Cole Woods 1-7, Evan Lunde 1-3

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