Two second-quarter touchdowns were all East Grand Forks needed to secure a homecoming win against Crookston in its 14-0 shutout win Friday.
The victory comes after a 28-14 win on the road against Thief River Falls last week, giving the Green Wave back-to-back wins for the first time this year.
“We were very physical that game and I wanted us to carry that over tonight,” East Grand Forks coach Ryan Kasowski said after the win. “I thought we came out lackadaisical, just going through the motions. In a rivalry game that can never happen. But I thought we picked it up as the game went on.”
After a quick three and out from the Green Wave, the Pirates’ first drive of the game lasted the entire first quarter. Ethan Boll, Jacob Hesby and Jack Doda racked up quality rushing attempts as Crookston aimed to control the clock. Boll, especially, was able to slip through the first wave of defenders.
“They really came out hard and they were very physical up front. On the defensive line, they gave us a lot of fits. Boll was really hard for us to block, so credit to them for having a really good game plan,” Kasowski said.
East Grand Forks returned with some patient play of its own until Tanner Campos reared back on third-and-long for a 62-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Smith on a wheel route that allowed the junior to dart past the Crookston secondary.
Then in true deja vu fashion, the Green Wave pushed the line of scrimmage yard-by-yard until they were hit by a couple of sacks by Brooks Butt in the red zone. But, on just his second pass of the game, Campos found Caleb Schmiedeberg on a third-and-goal screen that Schmiedeberg juked in for a 23-yard touchdown.
“That first score was huge and that changed the momentum. We were able to take a step back and gather ourselves. We were able to battle and understand that this was going to be a four-quarter game, which it was,” Kasowski said.
Going into the second half, the Crookston rushing attack went toe-to-toe with the East Grand Forks interior. Fighting back from a 14-point deficit, the Pirates managed to fight for third-down conversions throughout the third quarter.
In addition to some penalties, the Green Wave defense stayed on the field for quite some time. Kasowski and crew, though, were dead-set on finishing their mission to complete the shutout.
“We wanted to keep that zero on the board. We had played pretty well all night and we did not want to give up any points," said Kasowski,”
The next EGF possession featured more of the same, taking the ball right to the Crookston 20-yard line after a 21-yard Campos completion to Sam Schumacher. The following snap, Campos could not handle the exchange and fumbled with just about seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Pirates recovering the football.
With major influence on the ensuing drive, the Boll and Doda continued to pick up a couple of key third downs. Under three minutes left, facing a fourth down this time, Justin Overgaard got behind the line and swallowed up Doda to give the ball back to the Green Wave.
Less than 20 seconds later, another fumble gave the ball back to the Pirates, who needed to score right away to stay in the game.
“I was proud of our guys, they got put in some really tough positions there at the end,” said Kasowski. “They were able to rise to the occasion and defensively anytime you can keep a zero on the board is pretty unbelievable.”
Despite that, the Green Wave managed to stave off Crookston from even getting to midfield. Doda’s last-ditch effort went right to Smith in the East Grand Forks secondary and clinched the fourth win of the year.
“It’s important for us to understand how to win and not come off of a win thinking we won last week so it won’t matter this week. It’s nice to get off that win-loss-win-loss and put a couple together, especially as the season winds down,” said Kasowski.
Seeking three wins in a row, 4-2 East Grand Forks will next take on Perham at home on Thursday night. One-win Crookston will welcome Pillager on Thursday, as well.
East Grand Forks 14
EGF- Campos 62 pass to Smith (Overgaard kick)
EGF - Campos 23 pass to Schmiedeberg (Overgaard kick)
RUSHING -- EGF: Tanner Campos 7-18; Justin Overgaard 6-20; Caleb Schmiedeberg 4-10; Carter Vasek 3-17; Joey Votava 4-19; Sam Frost 1- -3 CHS: Ethan Boll 10-38; Jacob Hesby 11-16; Jack Doda 5-12
PASSING -- EGF: Tanner Campos 3-4-2-0 106 yards CHS: Jack Doda 8-14-0-1 48 yards
RECEIVING -- EGF: Cooper Smith 1-62-1; Caleb Schmiedeberg 1-23-1; Sam Schumacher 1-21 CHS: Ethan Bowman 1-2; Cade DeLeon 4-31; Ethan Boll 2-5, Jacob Hesby 1-8