Moose Lake-Willow River displayed why they are the 2nd-ranked team in Class AA football after rolling past visiting Braham 48-21 Oct. 13. The Rebels broke open a 21-13 score at the half with three unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter and finishing with 518 total rushing yards.
The Bombers, ranked 5th in Class A, moved the ball into Rebel territory on their first possession, and Tyler Vaughan’s punt was downed at the ML 3. The defense quickly forced a 3-and-out, and Braham took over inside Rebel territory again. Following a sack on first down, Cory Ambrose’s reception moved the ball to the 32. Later on 4th-and-3, Vaughan reversed on his pursuers and found Nick Mattson on a 28-yard pass play in the end zone, with Mattson adding the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
The Rebels bounced back with a long kick return inside Braham ground. ML-WR picked up three first downs, then speedy junior halfback Jake Disterhaupt scored the first of his five TDs on a six-yard run to make it 7-7.
In the second quarter, Braham regained the lead by keeping alive a penalty-filled 66-yard drive, with Vaughan diving in from two-yards out to go up 13-7. A late-hit penalty against Moose Lake helped, as did a 9-yard reception by Zach Dahlman following a holding call on Braham.
Again, the Rebels answered with a 75-yard Disterhaupt scoring sprint to knot the game. The Rebels picked off a pass on Braham’s next series, then they went ahead 21-13 with a 13-yard reception by Chris Gassert with just 47 seconds left in the half. Braham nearly answered back when a diving Shawn Hollencamp had a bomb from Vaughan just slide off his fingertips.
The Rebels scored on the opening possession of the second half when Disterhaupt ripped off a 51-yard run around the right side. Braham could not take advantage of a facemask penalty on the kickoff and punted after a 3-and-out. Moose Lake rolled 75 yards by ripping off chunks of yards, with Disterhaupt scoring from a yard out to make it 34-13.
ML-WR defensive end Taylor Mattison next flew into the backfield for a strip sack and recovered the fumble. Gassert scored the next Rebel TD on a 1-yard run. On the Rebels’ next possession, Gassert rambled on a long run and later scored from the 10. Disterhaupt got the Reb’s last score on a 4-yard rush to send the game into running time. Vaughan broke off a 50-yard run down the right sideline for Braham’s last TD.
“Our guys never gave up. They played as hard as they could, regardless of the score, every play of the game,” said Bomber Coach Shawn Kuhnke. Regarding the Rebels’ elusive handoffs which were very tough to read, Coach Kuhnke added, “Deception is a very big part of the MLWR offense. That is why they are foot-to-foot with their offensive line splits. We spent all week getting our defense to read the blocking up front by their offensive line as opposed to trying to find the football, which was next to impossible.”
Vaughan finished with 123 rushing yards on 27 attempts for Braham and passed for another 135 yards. Kevin Strelow and Ambrose led the defense with 13 and 12 tackles.
Bombers in position for top-seed in Section 7A
Section 7A seeding is based off of the QRF rankings via www.minnesota-scores.net. Because Carlton cancelled its season due to lack of participation numbers, whoever gets the No. 1 seed will have a bye for the Oct. 25 quarterfinals. Braham is presently ranked No. 1 overall in Class A heading into the Oct. 19 home game with Rush City. Deer River, Cook County and Ogilvie follow in the QRF rankings in the section.
GPFA Blue Div.
Braham 4-0, 6-1; Pine City 3-1, 6-1; Hinckley-Fin. 3-1, 5-2; Aitkin 1-3, 2-5; Crosby-Ironton 1-3, 2-5; Rush City 0-4, 0-7. Section 7A: Braham 6-1, Deer River 7-1, Cook County 5-1, Ogilvie 6-1, Barnum 5-2, Mesabi East 2-4, East Central 1-5.