A fun homecoming week in Mora culminated with an exciting football game against Moose Lake/Willow River Oct. 4. The see-saw affair saw the Mustangs suffer their first loss of the season 42-36 in overtime.
Entering the game both teams were state ranked. Moose Lake/Willow River was ranked seventh in class AA while Mora was ranked eighth in class AAA. Both teams showed why in this highly entertaining game.
Both teams’ offenses controlled the game from the onset with long, methodical drives with a few big plays sprinkled in. Both teams converted numerous third downs and fourth downs to keep drives alive.
The Rebels got things started after keeping Mora out of the end zone on their first drive. The Rebels ate up a lot of clock and converted a fourth and one on the drive that culminated with a touchdown pass to make it 6-0. It was the first of five touchdown passes by the Rebels quarterback as Mora had no answer for the passing game throughout the night. Head coach Troy Erickson said, “We did not expect them to throw as much as they did and with the success that they had.”
Mora did answer immediately thanks to the special teams. Andrew Rasmusson took the subsequent kickoff back 80 yards to even the score 6-6.
Mora’s defense got their only stop of the evening on the Rebels next drive. Taking over deep in their own territory Mora went on a long clock eating drive of their own. Andrew Rasmusson scored his second touchdown of the night, this time on the receiving end of a Caleb Anderson 38-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was good, and Mora had what would be their only lead of the night, 14-6.
Moose Lake/Willow River would tie the score just before halftime. On the drive the Rebels converted a third and 29 and also a fourth and 16 as the Mustang defense couldn’t get off the field. A touchdown and two-point conversion with 13.5 seconds left in the half tied the score 14-14. “We had trouble getting off the field all night defensively. We have to be able to get off the field on third and fourth downs,” said Coach Erickson.
The second half saw neither team able to stop the other from scoring. The Rebels received the second half kickoff. The drive featured three third down conversions including a 30-yard touchdown pass on a third down. After the two-point conversion it was 22-14.
The Mustangs churned out a game tying drive on the ground. Nick Nelson scored the first of his two touchdowns. With the two-point conversion the game was tied 22-22. Nelson rushed for 108 yards on the night.
After Moose Lake/Willow River took a 30-22 lead Mora once again answered. Ben Wright punctuated the drive with a 12-yard touchdown run. Caleb Anderson hit Nelson for the two-point conversion and the game was once again tied 30-30. Wright rushed for 79 yards on the night.
The Rebels once again took the lead at 36-30 and Mora needed a late fourth quarter drive to tie or win the game. A couple of Moose Lake/Willow River penalties helped sustain the drive. Nick Nelson scored from two yards out to tie the game with around 30 seconds left in the game. Mora decided to go for the two-point conversion and failed. On the decision Coach Erickson said, “Our regular long snapper was injured, and I have great confidence in our ability to convert from two and a half yards out.”
The game went to overtime with both teams getting equal opportunity from the 10-yard line. Mora had the first possession of the overtime and failed to score. A huge 15-yard penalty hurt the Mustang’s chances of scoring.
On the Rebels first possession of overtime the Mora defense allowed just three yards on the first three plays. But as they did all night, Moose Lake/Willow River converted on fourth down with the game winning touchdown.
On his team’s effort Coach Erickson said, “I was very happy with our effort. We never gave up and had to come from behind consistently throughout the night. Two very good teams played an entertaining game. Now we have to take this game and turn it into a positive.”
Mora will get their chance to do just that Friday night, Oct. 11, as they travel to Pine City for a 7:00 p.m. game. The Dragons will enter the game with a record of 2-4. They are coming off a 22-13 loss to Esko last Friday night, Oct. 4.