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Lumberjacks get even at 2-2

After opening the season with two straight losses, the Cloquet football team picked up their second win in a row Friday with a 38-12 win over Rock Ridge. The home game was played at Proctor's Egerdahl Field because Cloquet's home field is still not ready for play after getting turf this summer. The game was played in a dense fog where at times the fans could not see the opposite side of the field.

"We just don't see fog like that when we play at our field in Cloquet," said Cloquet coach Jeff Ojanen. "I don't think the fog had an effect as much as the rain did."

Cloquet kicked off and held the Wolverines on their opening drive. The 'Jacks drove the field and scored on a pass from quarterback James Wilmot to tight end Carter Horvat. Cloquet added a two-point conversion run by Blair Chartier to make it 8-0 after one quarter.

"That was a good throw by Wilmot because he put it in a spot where the only one who could catch it was Carter," Ojanen said.

The Lumberjacks added a pair of second-quarter scores: the first was a 9-yard run by Wilmot and the second another 10-yard touchdown scamper by Wilmot. Jacob Peterson added a two-point conversion run after the first touchdown run by Wilmot as the Lumberjacks built a 22-0 halftime lead.

"Wilmot had a solid game for us," Ojanen said. "Overall he's improved every game. I think because he can throw [it] opens up things for us, but most importantly he isn't turning the ball over."

That halftime lead was built not only by the offense, but the defense as well. The defense was led by senior middle linebacker Horvat, who was credited with 10.5 tackles, including three tackles for loss. Bo Fjeld also had a solid game with five tackles for Cloquet and Emmett Prosen came up big with a sack at a key point in the second half.

"I thought our defensive line really came to play. Carter [Horvat] is just so tough and is so hard to block from his linebacker spot," Ojanen said. "Bo had a good game, as did Blair Chartier, who made some nice open field tackles. Wyatt Preteau was also big and so was Prosen in the second half, but honestly our entire defense played well, so they all deserve credit."

Rock Ridge cut the Cloquet lead to 22-6 early in the third quarter.

Before the quarter ended, the Lumberjacks responded with a Chartier 33-yard touchdown gallop followed by Peterson running in the two-point conversion, bringing the score to 30-6.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines pulled to within 30-12 on a 2-yard run by Rory Cope-Robinson, but again failed on the two-point conversion.

Again the Lumberjacks answered with perhaps the most exciting play of the night: Wilmot launched a deep throw to Jack Battaglia, who went up and over a defender, batted the ball in the air and then grabbed the ball and raced down the sidelines for 67-yard touchdown. Chartier added the conversion run to make it 38-12.

"That touchdown was nice because Wilmot had the option of throwing if Jack was able to get the corner on the defender, and Jack made a great play and showed his speed after the catch," Ojanen said.

The Lumberjacks were impressive in the run game with a total of 279 yards rushing. Peterson led all rushers with 115 yards on 23 carries. Chartier added 64 yards on the ground, Warren Hietala added 50 yards, Wilmot had 26 yards, Aidan Sievert finished with 23 and Wyatt Preteau had 1 yard.

"Our offensive line had a really good week of practice," Ojanen said. "They created some nice holes for Peterson and they did a good job of picking up the blitz."

Wilmot was 4-for-6 in the passing department for a total of 123 yards.

"After starting 0-2, we are starting to see improvement," Ojanen said. "The guys have been working hard and it shows. If we execute and continue to learn, maybe we can cause some problems when the playoffs roll around."

The win improved the 'Jacks record to 2-2 while the Wolverines fell to 1-3. Cloquet will play in Proctor for the second week in a row Friday, but this time the 'Jacks will be the visiting team as they take on the Proctor Rails.