Flags were present as the Star-Spangled Banner played over the loudspeakers at Lester Prairie Bulldog Field, and flags were present throughout the rest of the game too.
Lester Prairie held off section foe Parkers Prairie 22-14 to advance in the 4A football playoffs despite a bevy of holding calls and stagnant second half ball movement. The Bulldog offense put up all of its points in the first half and were given a scare in the final minute as the Panthers tried to mount a last-second comeback.
“I’m happy that we won, we’ve got to keep that in perspective,” head coach Joe Scoblic said after the game. “But we can’t get shut down in the second half.”
It seemed as if the halftime score of 22-0 would expand as the game wore on. Lester Prairie quarterback Zach Jackson threw two touchdown passes to wide receiver Jack Behning, and then a recovered fumble on the ensuing kickoff gave the Bulldogs excellent field position to capitalize. Capitalize they did, with a Logan Lambrecht one-yard score, and the momentum in their favor by the second quarter buzzer.
The script was flipped in the third quarter. The physicality of the Parkers Prairie front line combined with more offensive penalties proved to be the kryptonite of the Lester Prairie offense. A 48-yard touchdown sprint by Panther quarterback Brendan Johnson cut the lead to 22-6.
Lester Prairie’s defense took some gashes in the fourth quarter on the ground and in the short pass game, which led to a Cole Gesell catch-and-run to the end zone with less than a minute to go, making the score 22-14. The Bulldogs got out of the jam, however, recovering the onside kick easily and kneeling out the rest of the clock.
Lester Prairie adds another win to the resume, now 6-1, and tentatively advances to the section semifinals, scheduled to travel to Browerville-Eagle Valley Saturday afternoon. The rest of the season is up in the air, though, with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz set to speak Wednesday on the fate of fall and winter sports. Whether the playoffs continue or not, Scoblic is happy with his team’s performance this season — outscoring opponents 187-85 in seven games and finishing seventh in the latest Class 1A poll, while losing top running back Tanner Scheevel to a broken foot in early November.
“When you’re 6-1, you feel good,” Scoblic said. “We lost to our rival, but it is what it is. We had to get fired up, out of this Scheevel hangover, and we’re still getting through that.”
Jackson was 13-19 for 147 yards and two touchdowns and Jack Behning caught seven passes for 86 yards and both scores. Jackson, Lambrecht and Gavin Eckstein combined for 104 rushing yards on the night.