The Fertile-Beltrami Falcons traveled over to Blackduck looking to continue their undefeated season and they did just that with a dominating run game and stout defense leading the way to a 40-0 victory over the Blackduck Drakes on a cold, rainy, and windy night. “I thought our guys came out ready to play. Sometimes on a longer drive you can come out flat and we didn’t do that tonight,” said Falcons Head Coach Brian Nelson. I thought our guys performed well.”
The Falcons started the game on offense and they came out running the ball all over the sloppy, muddy field. “The field conditions weren’t conducive to everything we wanted to do so we mostly kept it simple,” said Coach Nelson. “With these conditions you don’t want to get too fancy and turn the ball over.” Their first drive resulted in points, with run after run from Everett Balstad and Derek Sorenson. Balstad added catches of 17 and six, the latter resulting in a TD from quarterback Rylin Petry to finish off a 13 play-60 yard drive. “Everett had another great night and has had great games for us all season long,” said Coach Nelson. The Falcons failed on the two-point conversion and they led 6-0 after four minutes of play. On the first drive for the Blackducks, they did not get much going. Evan Bilinski ran for -4, 8, and -2 yards turning into a 3-and-out. After a 29 yard punt, the Falcons took over at their own 34. They were able to move all the way down the field for 66 yards on just seven plays for another touchdown. The big play of the drive was a 42 yard run for Levi Qualley. Qualley then finished off the drive with a nine-yard catch in the end zone to double the Fertile-Beltrami lead. “Levi has just had a tremendous season. He not only ran well and caught the TD pass, but his blocking tonight was tremendous,” explained Coach Nelson. “That’s been a focus for us lately.” Ryan Van Den Einde caught the 2pt conversion and the Falcons led 14-0 in just over 18 minutes of play. The Drakes got the ball back on their own 27-yard line and again went 3-and-out. On first down they just missed on a deep ball to Leo Kingbird. They then completed a pass to Kingbird for six yards and followed that up with a loss of a yard and punted away.
The Falcons kept their scoring streak going on their third drive. The Falcons third drive split the between the quarters and 2:18 into the second quarter they got back on the board. Again, the heavy lifting was done on the ground with Balstad adding runs of nine, seven, and 16. He finished off the drive with a four yard run to get the Falcons a 20-0 lead. “With the conditions we did a lot of short sideline runs to try to avoid the middle of the field and overall it worked pretty well,” added Coach Nelson. It stayed at that score after a missed 2pt conversion. The Drakes made a change at quarterback to get Bilinski a better look at running the ball. However, on the first play, Brennan Kortuem was intercepted by Everett Balstad with one hand and returned the ball to the 15. The possession started at the 30-yard line after a hold on the return and the Falcons capitalized on the great field position. Fertile-Beltrami needed just four plays to go the 30 yards. Levi Qualley added a run of four onto runs of six, 16, and four from Everett Balstad to cap the drive off in just 70 seconds to increase the lead to 26-0. The 2pt conversion failed again and it remained 26-0. Blackduck started their next drive at their own 43-yard line. It was more of the same on the drive. An incomplete pass and a one yard gain for Bilinski led to a third and nine. Ridge Flatness broke through, broke a few tackles as he came up on the line to gain but Tucker Bolstad came from his defensive tackle spot to catch him from behind and ripped the ball away to get the possession back for the Falcons. “The defense has been giving our offense some opportunities with short fields all season long,” said Coach Nelson. “Our defensive tackles aren’t the biggest guys, but they are quick and tough to block.” Fertile-Beltrami ran 10 plays for 36 yards over six-plus minutes, but the Drakes finally got a stop as the Falcons turned it over on downs with a tackle for loss on fourth down. The Drakes could not capitalize on the stop getting just eight yards on a couple of carries from Dante Frank and punted it away for the third time. With 49 seconds remaining, Derek Sorenson ran twice for 15 yards to run out the rest of the clock to give the Falcons a 26-0 halftime lead. “I am just really proud of the way the guys played tonight,” added Coach Nelson.
The Falcons dominated the half with 293 total yards, 255 of them on the ground, while gaining 16 first downs. Everett Balstad led the Falcons in the half with 20 carries for 128 yards and two catches for 23 yards and 3 total touchdowns. Meanwhile, Blackduck did not earn a first down and gained just 31 yards of offense, 17 on the ground and 14 through the air on two completions.
The third quarter started on a strong note for Fertile-Beltrami. Blackduck started with the ball and ran just three plays for negative five yards, including a loss of nine on a sack and the Drakes punted it away. It took just four plays to go 64 yards as the Falcons found the end zone again. “That’s exactly how we talked about it at the half. We talked about some adjustments that we could make to have some big plays,” explained Coach Nelson. Balstad started with a run of 12 yards and Qualley followed that with runs of nine and three before Balstad broke away for a 40-yard touchdown run to give the Falcons a 32-0 lead. “We got it set up near some of the grass that we thought was still green and the play before wasn’t a big gain but it set up Everett’s long run,” explained Coach Nelson. “We made sure to get him some rest after that and keep him fresh for next week.” The 2pt conversion was successful on a run by Sorenson to make it 34-0. The Drakes followed that touchdown with the longest drive of the game, in terms of time run off the clock, and they gained a first down for the first time in the game. However, they had a net gain of negative seven yards on ten plays over five minutes and 16 seconds. After a three yard gain by Bilinksi, the refs warned both Dante Frank and Austin Bjerk for pushing after the play. On the next play, Frank was called for a personal foul against Bjerk to move the ball all the way back to their own 35 yard line and set up a 2nd and 28. The next play was a five-yard run for Ridge Flatness, but at the end of the play Bjerk was called for a personal foul against Frank and that made the third down manageable. On third down, Bilinski rolled out to the left side of the field. He was tracked down by three Falcons and looked like he was going to be sacked, but he was able to flip the ball to Flatness before he hit the ground. Flatness then broke a few tackles and picked up the first down for the Drakes- their first of the game. On the next play, Frank broke away down the left sideline for a gain of 45 yards. However, another penalty brought the big play back. The Drakes could not recover from the holding penalty and the drive resulted in a punt. “Coach Larson does a great job and we have a lot of different fronts and stunts that we can throw at people,” said Coach Nelson. “A lot of it has to do with the guys out on the field, but I give a ton of credit to Coach Larson too. The Falcons followed with their worst drive of the game, gaining just three yards on three plays. They punted for the first and only time of the game back to the Blackduck 33-yard line. The Drakes were able to gain another first down on two runs by Flatness and a QB sneak by Bilinski for three yards on fourth down to end the third quarter.
Still, the Drakes could not build on that to start the fourth quarter. A couple runs for one yard and a false start set up another long third down. On that third down, Bilinski fumbled the snap and the Falcons recovered for their third turnover forced in the game. Needing just 35 yards, Fertile-Beltrami used up just over five minutes on just seven plays to score another touchdown. On a third down, Caiden Swenby faked a handoff and found Ryan Van Den Einde wide open in the end zone from ten yards out. The 2pt conversion failed and the Falcons held a 40-0 lead with 5:31 remaining. After a net gain of negative ten yards over their first three drives of the half, Blackduck put together a solid drive getting into the redzone for the first time. The highlight play was a 23 yard run from Dante Frank in which he broke tackle after tackle. They added runs of nine from Brennan Kortuem, four from Bilinski, and four from Flatness. Faced with a third down and eleven and just 40 seconds remaining in the game, Bilinski rolled to his left and threw into the end zone looking to pick up their first points, but Isaiah Wright jumped in front of the intended target and intercepted the pass. The fourth turnover of the game kept the shutout intact as the Falcons took a knee to end the game. “Our defensive ends are pretty stout, Austin Bjerk and Derek Sorenson had great nights. And our linebackers, Everett and Tyler Stuhaug had great nights too,” added Coach Nelson. “Especially in these conditions, they played really well.” The Falcons were not as potent in the second half with their offense. They gained 100 yards, with 90 coming on the ground. The one pass in the second half was the 10-yard touchdown. The Drakes had 57 yards in the second half with 49 coming on the ground.
Fertile-Beltrami now improves to 7-0 this season and are outscoring their opponents 318-47. They will play Cass Lake-Bena next week looking to stay undefeated heading into the postseason.
Blackduck is now 3-4 this season. They will go to Laporte on Wednesday.
8:00- FB- Everett Balstad 6 yard catch (run failed)
3:43- FB- Levi Qualley 9 yard catch (Ryan Van Den Einde catch)
9:42- FB- Everett Balstad 4 yard run (pass failed)
8:17- FB- Everett Balstad 4 yard run (run failed)
8:24- FB- Everett Balstad 40 yard run (Derek Sorenson run)
5:31- FB- Ryan Van Den Einde 10 yard catch (run failed)
|Passing Yards||5-7-0 48 yds||6-12-2 22 yds|
|Everett Balstad- 22-180||Evan Bilinksi- 9-6|
|Levi Qualley- 13-108||Dante Frank- 7-34|
|Derek Sorenson- 12-50||Ridge Flatness- 5-20|
|Isaiah Wright- 7-5||Brennan Kortuem- 5-6|
|Caiden Swenby- 1-4|
|Rylin Petry- 4-6-0 38 yds||Evan Bilinski- 6-11-1 22 yds|
|Caiden Swenby- 1-10 yds||Brennan Kortuem- 0-1-1 0 yds|
|Everett Balstad- 2-23||Ridge Flatness- 4-8|
|Ryan Van Den Einde- 2-16||Dante Frank- 1-8|
|Leo Kingbird- 1-6|