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Chris Murphy, Published November 09 2012

Hawley falls to Moose Lake-Willow River

ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Both teams had gone nearly three quarters without a turnover in Friday’s Minnesota Class 2A state quarterfinal matchup between No. 2-ranked Moose Lake-Willow River and No. 5-ranked Hawley at Husky Stadium on the campus of St. Cloud State University.

A Hawley fumble on the Rebels’ 9-yard line with 2 minutes, 6 seconds left in the third proved to be the first and biggest of the night. After the turnover, the Rebels scored seven plays later to take a commanding 35-14 lead in the fourth quarter en route to a 35-22 win in Minnesota high school football.

“We had a lot of work coming into this season, and our seniors took it upon themselves to be classy leaders all the way through,” Hawley coach Peder Naatz said, wiping tears from his eyes. “We battled and we never gave up. The heart that these kids showed was amazing. We never stopped.”

Neither ML-WR nor Hawley have held a football state championship trophy over their heads to end a season. Last season’s runner-up Rebels are now two Metrodome victories away from raising the trophy.

Moose Lake-Willow River (12-0) didn’t really disguise its game plan. The Rebels were running. The Rebels rushed on all but two plays in the entire game, racking up 385 yards on 56 carries.

All 31 plays from scrimmage in the first half were rushing plays for the Rebels. Hawley (11-1) came in wanting to contain Jake Disterhaupt, but it was Michael Pender that gave the Nuggets problems in the first half, rushing for 124 of his 185 yards and two touchdowns in the opening half.

“Both backs are over 1,000 yards,” ML-WR coach Dave Louzek said. “You try and stop one running back, and the other kid takes advantage of that.”

The ML-WR running scheme wasn’t easy for Naatz to watch work to perfection against his team, but, as a football enthusiast, it was hard not to admire.

“As a football guy, it’s fun to watch, but you wish you weren’t watching them do what they do against your squad,” Naatz said. “We gave them everything we had, but they are extremely physical.”

If Hawley’s comeback win over Barnesville in the section championship, in which the Nuggets trailed 20-6 at half, taught the football world anything, it was that the Nuggets don’t go away.

On third-and-15, Jordan Harms found Hunter Lawson for a 36-yard touchdown to get on the board. The Nuggets marched 65 yards in four minutes on their ensuing drive, capping the drive with a one-yard dive from Chris Buttke to make it a 21-14 halftime lead for ML-WR.

ML-WR made it 28-14 on its opening drive of the second half on a 15-yard touchdown run from Disterhaupt. Just like it had all season, Hawley looked to answer and pull within a touchdown, but the Nuggets fumbled and Tony Adamczak found Disterhaupt for a 10-yard touchdown to make it 35-14.

Harms found Ben Ellefson for a 50-yard touchdown reception and Alex Ames for the 2-point conversion with 7:37 to play, but it was too late. Time had run out on the Nuggets’ perfect season.

“It’s terribly disappointing, but when you look at the big picture, this is one chapter in their lives,” Naatz said. “In the grand scheme of life, you’re going to have bigger disappointments than this. You have to absorb the pain, but get on with it. And they will.”

H 0 14 0 8–22

M 14 7 7 7–35

M–Pender 2 run (kick failed)

M–Pender 3 run (Disterhaupt run)

H–Lawson 26 pass from Harms (Althoff kick)

M–Disterhaupt 26 run (Moonen kick)

H–Buttke 1 run (Althoff kick)

M–Disterhaupt 15 run (Moonen kick)

M–Disterhaupt 10 pass from Adamczak (Moonen kick)

H–Ellefson 50 pass from Harms (Ames pass from Harms)

Individual Statistics

RUSHING: M, Disterhaupt 22-126, Pender 27-187, Gassert 7-73, Young 1-1. H, Ames 20-86, BUttke 8-30, Harms 9-47, Ellefson 1-2.

PASSING: M, Adamczak 2-2-0 11 yards. H, Harms 4-9-2 134, Ellefson 1-2-0 11.

RECEIVING: M, Disterhaupt 2-11. H, Lawson 3-84, Ellefson 2-61.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548