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Storm flip score in last-minute heroics

Football battles for 17-14 win over Sartell

BY ANNA HINKEMEYER | STAFF WRITER

    Two minutes remained on the clock Sept. 6 when the Sauk Rapids-Rice football team celebrated briefly in the end zone after junior wide receiver Ethan Opsahl caught a 29 yard pass from Kobe Lee. The reception tipped the scoring in the Storm’s favor 15-14 over Sartell. A two-point conversion extended the lead to 17-14.
    The Sabres fought their way toward the opposite end zone in the remaining minutes of play. The Storm defense made it difficult for the Sabres. Yet, Sartell had only 20 yards to touchdown.
    As the clock ticked toward game’s end, the Storm defense made big plays and pushed the Sabres to midfield where they turned over on downs.
    “We had some sacks late when they had to throw the ball vertically and weren’t able to use play action,” said Phil Klaphake, head coach. “We felt pretty good, but Sartell has some good players that made it difficult at times to get the job done on both sides of the ball.”
     The game was a back-and-forth affair, with the battle remaining scoreless until midway through the second quarter when Andrew Wollak leaped into the end zone. Sartell answered shortly thereafter with a touchdown of its own to tie the score at six.
    Alex Harren helped put a stop to a defining Sabres drive downfield when he intercepted the ball midway through the second quarter and carried the ball 17 yards. Cole Ackerman also assisted by picking up a fumble recovery.
    The two teams pushed their competition after halftime. It was tough for either team to score.
    Midway through the third quarter, SRR was within field goal range and Durham Welch sent one flying through the goal posts from 24 yards out to put the Storm in the lead.
    Near the start of the fourth, Sartell ran its way into the end zone to leave SRR trailing by five, but the last-minute heroics the Storm are known for came into play with the Opsahl catch.
    Offensively, Lee had a solid line in front of him and did well in scrambling when needed.
    “Sartell did a good job of making it difficult for us to run the ball and took away our short passing game,” Klaphake said. “Our line has done a great job of giving Kobe time to make decisions. If people are not open, Kobe is doing a good job of keeping us out of negative plays.”
    With the win comes even more promise from Klaphake’s point of view.
    “We have a lot of talent, but are still an inexperienced team,” Klaphake said. “As we gain more experience, we will only get better and I am excited to see how good this team could be. Intensity comes with confidence and confidence comes with competence. As our kids gain that experience and become more and more sure of themselves in regards to their job, they will be able to play faster and have more perceived intensity.”
    Josh Krebs and Carter Loesch led the team in tackles with seven and six, respectively. Loesch also earned an assist. Josh Schloe was another defensive powerhouse for the Storm, tallying four tackles and three sacks.
    The Storm travels to take on the Tech Tigers at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 in St. Cloud.
    Stats – Passing: Lee 135 yds, 1 TD, 1 int. Rushing: Tayton Philavanh 46 yds, Wollak 22 yds 1 TD and Lee 9 yds. Receiving: Opsahl 54 yds 1 TD, Christian Rodriguez 49 yds, Harren 13 yds, Schloe 7 yds and Philavanh 3 yds.