TURTLE LAKE – The first-half deficit was bigger than the second-half comeback.

Seeking an improvement to 2-1 on the season, the Grantsburg football team fell behind Turtle Lake 24-0 in the first half and despite getting back to within a score in the third quarter, the Pirates’ comeback fell short in a 32-20 loss on the road.

“We drove the ball well all night but committed some stupid mistakes to end drives,” Grantsburg coach Adam Hale said.

Sterling McKinley led the Pirates with 208 yards passing and two touchdowns, though two of his three passes that were intercepted stopped potential scoring drives that may have changed the result. Though, neither of those touchdowns came in a first half dominated by the Lakers.

Turtle Lake opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Adam Waite to Lucas Torgerson; the duo also connected on the 2-point conversion pass to give the Lakers an 8-0 lead.

The second-quarter effort gave the Lakers a three-score lead entering halftime.

They went up 16-0 with a 15-yard touchdown run and 2-point conversion run from Waite with less than seven minutes remaining in the half. Then in the final minute of the half, the Lakers capped another scoring drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass from Waite to Casey Kahl followed by a 2-point conversion run from Dylan Nitchey.

The Pirates had two prime opportunities to score points in the first half, but still entered halftime with a zero on the scoreboard.

“We came up an inch short on fourth down of our first drive and then threw an interception in the red zone early in the second quarter,” Hale said.

But miscues were avoided in a pair of scoring drives that put Grantsburg back in the game in the third quarter.

The Pirates finally got on the board early in the second half with a 4-yard touchdown run from McKinley. The 2-point conversion attempt failed to keep the score at 24-6, though the Pirates got closer before starting the fourth quarter.

McKinley found Zach Miller for a 55-yard touchdown pass with less than three minutes remaining in the third. But again the 2-point conversion failed and another interception meant Grantsburg started the final quarter trailing 24-12.

“Our second interception killed the little momentum we had going in the second half,” Hale said. We had to pass much of the second half to try and get it close as they chewed-up a lot of the clock with long drives.”

Another one of those long Turtle Lake drives led to more points to start the fourth quarter.

The Lakers went up 32-12 with a 3-yard touchdown run from Torgerson and another conversion run from Waite. However, the Pirates were able to respond quickly to this score.

Just over a minute later, McKinley connected with Reed Arnold on a 29-yard touchdown pass and then found Miller for a 2-point conversion pass, bringing the Pirates within 12 at 32-20. However, those were the final points scored in the game and the Lakers were able to drain the clock.

Miller finished with five catches for 99 yards; Arnold had five catches for 72 yards and Isaac Quimby had 107 yards on 17 rushes for Grantsburg. Arnold also had a team-high 13 tackles; Levi Miller had 11 and Isaac Lee added 10. Dane Jensen and Quimby each had an interception.

Grantsburg (1-2) plays at Unity this Friday.