Aggies spoil air attack
Park River benefitS from four interceptions
The opening of the 2013 high school football season in Park River had the feel of homecoming in the air. With the King and Queen chosen the night before, The Aggies showed a spirit of determination to score twice in the fourth quarter and steal a win from the Grafton Spoilers last Friday night.
The official homecoming game for Park River is scheduled for this Friday, but the long-standing rivalry with the Spoilers proved to illuminate the fans, players and fill the western sky with lightning.
The Spoilers had several chances to put the game out of reach as they scored the first two touchdowns and led the game 16-0 with 6:05 left to go in the second quarter.
Park River rebounded quickly on a six-play drive that concluded with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Abe Hankey to Noah Zimmerman with 4:13 to go in the second quarter to cut the Spoiler lead 16-6.
On the next series, Grafton went three and out. After the Aggies got the ball back, six plays later Hankey fumbled and the Spoilers recovered at the Grafton 27-yard line with :50 seconds remaining in the half.
After two successful 25-yard pass plays to Austin Contreras and Zak Hernandez, Hunter Baldwin threw two incomplete passes before Martinez completed a third down run for 6 yards. With the clock winding down, the Spoilers were then penalized on a false start before Baldwin threw a fourth down interception to Carter Arendt with nine seconds remaining in the half to kill the scoring opportunity. The half ended with Grafton leading 16-6.
To open the second half, Grafton once again threatened to extend their lead with a solid 11 play drive that ended abruptly when Baldwin threw his second interception of the night into the hands of Noah Zimmerman who was defending in the Spoilers’ end zone at the 8:29 mark.
That sparked the Aggies to answer with a three play scoring drive that concluded with a 55-yard touchdown pass from Abe Hankey to Levi Cudmore with 7:32 remaining in the third quarter. Hankey converted the extra point run to close the score to 16-14 in favor of the Spoilers.
In Grafton’s next possession they were forced to punt after a holding penalty squandered their forward movement. The punt was received and bobbled by Zimmerman, he regained control, but fumbled a second time on the runback to narrowly escape a league of Spoiler defenders. Zimmerman recovered his own fumble to avert the turnover.
Hankey for the Aggies took control of the game at this point. He ran seven out of the next 12 plays and threw on two setting up the Aggies go-ahead score with 11:33 remaining in the game. Hankey scored on a 20-yard run to put the Aggies ahead 20-16.
The Spoilers’ defense stepped up the intensity and forced the Aggies backwards in their second possession of the fourth quarter. Park River, plagued by a holding penalty, failed to secure a first down and was forced to punt out of their own end zone. Esten Beneda booted a short punt to Park River’s own 35 to give the Spoilers a chance to regain the lead.
The biggest offensive play of the night for Grafton came at the 6:12 mark of the fourth quarter with the Spoilers down by four. Baldwin threw a 34 yard pass to Hernandez to give the Spoilers the lead at 24-20.
On the next Park River possession, the Aggies turned the ball over when Hankey was intercepted by Gage Gellner with less than six minutes remaining in the game.
After a five-yard run by Martinez, Baldwin fumbled on the next play, but recovered the ball to retain possession. On third down with 4:49 left to play, Zach Nelson intercepted a Baldwin pass to give the Aggies the ball and a chance to retake the lead at the Spoilers’ 25 yard line.
The Aggies stumbled and began their next drive with a five-yard penalty for having too many men on the field. Zimmerman ran for 11 yards to set up a Hankey to Beneda 12-yard pass for a first and goal opportunity at the seven-yard line. Hankey almost scored on the next play but was stopped a yard short by a wall of Spoilers.
With 2:58 left in the game, Aggie coach Robert Goll called a timeout with his team down by four. On the next play he watched his junior quarterback take it in for the go-ahead touchdown with 2:56 remaining. The point after attempt was successful as Hankey ran it in to put his team ahead by a score of 28-24.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Spoilers got the ball on their own 37 yard line. On the first play Baldwin was sacked for a five yard loss, but the Spoilers dug in and got a first down with 1:54 on the clock. On the second play from scrimmage, Baldwin threw his fourth interception of the night. Levi Cudmore pulled down the errant throw and that allowed the Aggies to run out the clock for their first win of the season.