Chris Murphy, Published October 26 2013
D-G-F football team secures berth in section final after beating Perham
After winning two games last season, Saturday was D-G-F’s time. It’s why quarterback Zack Nelson went completely horizontal when he needed a yard for a first down in the Rebels’ final drive, which milked the final 5 minutes, 42 seconds off the clock. It’s why running back Joe Flatt yelled after picking up five of his 131 yards rushing on the night on the final first down to seal it.
The road from that two-win season is why coach Tony Soderberg fought tears talking about where D-G-F is now: Playing in the section title game with a chance to go to state for the first time since 2002.
The Rebels play at the Fargodome against Pequot Lakes in the section final.
“Over the last two years, these seniors have taken their lumps,” Soderberg said. “It was pretty impressive to see them come out with the win tonight. They deserve it, and they’ve earned it because they put in the time.”
Nothing signified D-G-F football more than the Rebels’ final possession. With a 19-14 lead and 5:42 separating them from the section title game, the Rebels did what they had done all season. They pounded the run. Nine run plays and two third-down conversions later, the game and the night was theirs.
“We could have passed, but that’s not really our style,” Soderberg said. “We just wanted to put the ball in the hands of people that carried us and behind a great offensive line that got a great push. It speaks volumes of these kids’ character and pride.”
Five of those rushing plays went to senior running back Chad Johnson, who finished with 96 yards and two first-half touchdowns on 25 carries.
“We put a lot of hard work in the offseason and it’s paying off,” Johnson said. “We just needed a couple first downs, and we got them, and we pulled it off. We got a good team, and I think we can get to state.”
Besides Nelson’s diving quarterback keeper, the other three plays went to junior Joe Flatt, who set the tone with a 54-yard touchdown run on the third play of the game.
“Last year, we were young and not really experienced,” Flatt said. “This year, we came back and we knew we wanted it, and we knew we’d have to go after Perham. We wanted it, and we came out and played hard.”
D-G-F (7-2) took a 13-0 lead with 6:56 left in the first half on a 2-yard touchdown run for Johnson. Perham (6-4) answered with an 11-play, 70-yard drive capped with a Payton Jordahl 6-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 13-7. D-G-F responded, going 73 yards on five plays, capping the drive with a Johnson 5-yard touchdown run.
Perham scored on a hook-and-ladder with 9:20 to go in the third. Eli Beachy found Tyler Glines for 10 yards, who pitched it to Josh Still, who took it the other 25 yards for a touchdown. Perham had third-and-2 from the D-G-F 29-yard line with 11:30 to go in the game, but Beachy was stuffed on two plays and the Yellowjackets would get no closer the rest of the game.
“D-G-F just had our number this year,” Perham coach Mike Jordahl said. “They had a very good game plan against us this year and stopped us when they needed to stop us.”
P 0 7 7 0–14
DGF 7 12 0 0–19
DGF-Flatt 54 run (Olson kick)
DGF-Johnson 2 run (kick no good)
P-Jordahl 6 run (Bahls kick)
DGF-Johnson 5 run (run failed)
P-Still 35 pass from Beachy (Bahls kick)
RUSHING: DGF, Johnson 25-96, Wayne 6-77, Flatt 13-131, Nelson 3-(4), Jacobson 1-5. P, Jordahl 14-61, Beachy 13-44, Erickson 3-(-4), Still 3-10, Bahls 2-5
PASSING: DGF, Nelson 1-1-0 17 yards, Johnson 0-1-0. P, Beachy 4-8-0 64 yards, Bahls 1-1-0 5 yards.
RECEIVING: DGF, Schumann 1-17. P, Hietela 1-8, Bahls 1-17, Beachy 1-5, Still 2-39.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548