FIELD TWP— The Grizzlies survived their biggest test of the season to date, combining a solid offensive performance and key defensive plays to beat previously undefeated Cook County last Friday in …
FIELD TWP— The Grizzlies survived their biggest test of the season to date, combining a solid offensive performance and key defensive plays to beat previously undefeated Cook County last Friday in a nailbiter. The Vikings, who led at various points in the game, may have been hoping to avenge their loss to North Woods in the semi-final round of last year’s Section 7 Nineman football playoffs. But the Grizzlies had other ideas, drawing first blood with a touchdown and a kicked extra point in the first quarter. Cook County came back with a touchdown and two-point conversion to take a one-point lead into the break.
The game was played under unseasonably warm and humid conditions, which seemed to take their toll on the players as the game went on. “It was oppressive,” said Grizzlies Head Coach John Jirik. “I think it hurt both teams defensively in the second half.”
After a defensive battle in the first half, both offenses blew the game open, scoring almost at will for much of the second half, swapping leads several times along the way. A key sack by the Grizzlies helped stop a Vikings drive late in the fourth quarter, which eventually allowed North Woods to extend its narrow 31-30 lead. Jake Hyppa secured the win on his second touchdown of the game— a 37-yard dart to the end zone— moments later, lifting the Grizzlies to a 39-30 final.
“I thought overall we had a few more big plays than they did, and that made the difference,” said Jirik, reflecting on the game. “Once again, it came down to the final half of the fourth quarter.”
Brendan Parson joined Hyppa on the offensive leader board, with two third-quarter touchdowns on 142 yards rushing. Hyppa did his scoring in the fourth quarter, with 111 yards of total rushing for the game.
But North Woods put up impressive passing numbers as well, as Tate Olson connected on 13 strikes for 187 yards, including a 47-yard first-quarter touchdown pass to Tanner Barto, who was Olson’s top target most of the game. Barto caught nine Olson passes for 122 yards, while Matt Schultz added three completions for 56 yards. In all, the Grizzlies racked up 496 yards of total offense, while holding Cook to 343 yards.
Schultz led the way on defense with 18 tackles for the Grizzlies, followed by Trevor Morrison with ten tackles, including a sack.
Parson notched nine tackles and an interception, while Hayden Picek and Chase Kleppe tallied seven tackles apiece. Stefen Johansen notched six tackles, while Alex Byram added a sack.
North Woods will travel to Babbitt on Friday to take on the winless Nighthawks. Game time is set for 3:15 p.m.