Dalton Holmberg (2) and Mason Nyhus (8) team up to tackle a Pillager runner. Holmberg had this stop, a sack and busted up a fourth down play on this drive.Matt Miller runs for a touchdown.

Cardinals knocked out of football playoffs

The Staples-Motley football team fell behind early then struggled in the second half of a 43-13 playoff loss at Pillager on Oct. 29.

Pillager scored first on a punt return, then drove in for a touchdown and a 16-0 lead after their second interception of the first half.

The Cardinals came back by passing down the field, with Josh Lombard completing throws to Mason Rychner, Matt Miller and Mason Nyhus, the last one bringing the team to the 2 yard line with 15 seconds left. But after an incomplete pass, they fell short on a run to end the half still at 16-0.

Pillager put the game out of reach in the third quarter, taking the opening drive for a score and later scoring after a Cardinal fumble.

“Missed assignments and less than best effort periodically led to an out of hand third quarter,” said Coach Travis VanOverbeke. “As teams progress deeper into the playoffs, the margin for error decreases, and our margin of error was a bit high on Saturday night.”

Matt Miller scored twice for Staples-Motley, on a kickoff return and by catching a short pass and turning it into a long touchdown.

“It was prepped to be the biggest game in the area, but we didn’t respond to the hype well,” said VanOverbeke.  

Despite the disappointing loss, the coach said the Cardinals should feel good about their playoff run.

“It was great to host a playoff game for the second year in a row, and it was great to get another chance against WDC. Our team played some of the best football I have seen from them this season, which was a nice change from week 7 vs. WDC and week 8 vs. Crookston. We were a much different squad against Pillager than when we played WDC,” said VanOverbeke.

“Our team has been through a lot this season and has learned a lot. I’m proud of our players and their efforts on a nice season.”

Next year’s schedule in the Midwest District Blue Subdivision will replace Osakis and Frazee with Pillager and West Central Area. “It will look a little different,” said VanOverbeke.

Team results

SM   0  0   0  14 - 14

P       8  8 14 13 - 43

Rushing: SM 32-1, P 50-179

Eric Lisson 12-16, Matt Miller 2-7, Dalton Holmberg 6-5, Hunter Berggren 1-3, Mason Rychner 1-3, Josh Lombard 10-(-33)

Passing: SM (Lombard) 13-25, 188 yards, 1 TD, 2 int.; P 3-11, 78 yards

Receiving: Miller 5-112 yards, 1 TD, Rychner 3-48, Holmberg 1-13, Mason Nyhus 1-12, Berggren 1-2, Lisson 2-2

Tackles: Alex Erpelding 17, Jacob Bendson 11, Holmberg 5, Jack Feitek 5, Trey Skeesick 4, Lisson 3, Derek Kennedy 2, Rychner 1, Lombard 1, Berggren 1, Hunter Carlson 1, Nyhus 1, Kyle Serich 1

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