GRANTSBURG – Miscues, both forced and unforced, were the undoing of the Grantsburg football team on Friday.
The Pirates’ mistakes at home against Abbotsford helped the visitor to a 20-point second quarter, nearly 400 yards rushing and prevented them from potentially scoring a pair of touchdowns in a 46-23 loss. The Falcons finished with 376 yards and six touchdowns on the ground, though knowing the run was coming didn’t necessarily help the Pirates.
“(Abbotsford) only passed a few times and for good reason – they didn’t have to,” Grantsburg coach Adam Hale said. “They scored early and often.”
The Falcons’ early score was on an 8-yard touchdown run that gave them a 6-0 lead. The Pirates managed to get in field goal range for Jared VanWatermuelen to put three points on the board, making it a 6-3 game to start the second.
Abbotsford then took control of the game by making long sustained drives that usually ended with points. The Falcons scored three rushing touchdowns and while the Pirates got a 1-yard touchdown run from Sterling McKinley, they weren’t able to capitalize on other opportunities and sometimes assisted on extending Abbotsford drives.
“We lined-up wrong, we didn’t’ follow our keys, we stood straight-up and allowed (Abbotsford) to do what they wanted,” Hale said.
“Most of the night they scored off long drives and picked-up six, seven or eight yards a pop. Besides the first two drives, I thought we moved the ball well but had two costly turnovers in the red zone that could have been a 14-point swing and at least allowed us to stay within a touchdown or two.”
Abbotsford made the situation worse for Grantsburg in the third quarter, scoring a pair of touchdowns while blanking the Pirates. The Falcons’ scores were on a 67-yard touchdown run and an 83-yard fumble recovery for another score to take a 40-10 lead.
Grantsburg managed a pair of scores in the fourth quarter, with an 8-yard touchdown pass from McKinley to Zach Miller and a 25-yard touchdown pass from Carter Johnson to VanWatermuelen. But even without an insurance score from Abbotsford in the fourth, the Pirates’ late scoring wasn’t enough to threaten a come-from-behind win.
“It was a disappointing night,” Hale said. “We wanted to be balanced going into the game and thought we’d be able to throw the ball with some success.”
Abbotsford’s defense intercepted a pair of McKinley passes and limited the Pirates’ ground game to 114 yards.
McKinley went 17-for-32 for 163 passing yards; Johnson was 3-for-3 for 51 yards and Miller finished with eight catches for 110 yards. McKinley led the defense with 14 tackles; Dane Jensen and Phil Hein had nine tackles each.
The Pirates moved to 1-1 on the season and go on the road to face Turtle Lake this Thursday. The Lakers are 2-0 after a 26-6 win over Pepin-Alma last week.