Vikings fall to Hornets, 27-7

 NB football closes regular season, earns fifth seed

Junior Jack Tholen rushes during a home game earlier this season. The Vikings fell, 27-7, to Big Lake on the road last Wednesday. Photo by Kat Ladwig

Junior Jack Tholen rushes during a home game earlier this season. The Vikings fell, 27-7, to Big Lake on the road last Wednesday.
Photo by Kat Ladwig

On Oct. 16, the North Branch football team traveled to Big Lake for an early-week game, due to fall break for the Education Minnesota Professional Conference, and suffered a 27-7 loss to the Hornets.

Big Lake scored early in the first quarter off a 38-yard pass, but the Vikings were able to answer with just 45 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. Senior quarterback Tony Denn broke away for a 31-yard carry into the end zone, followed by the extra point by junior Trey Oday to tie the score at seven.

But that’s as close as the Vikings would get to the Hornets, as Big Lake went on to score seven more in the second quarter and 13 more in the third to close the scoring.

While North Branch beat the Hornets in the rushing game with 208 yards compared to the host team’s 147 rushing yards, Big Lake broke down the Viking defense with passing. The Hornets passed for 261 yards, with North Branch putting up just 26 yards.

Leading the Vikings in rushing was Denn, who recorded 156 yards on 25 carries with one touchdown, followed by junior Kodie Koolmo with 30 yards on 10 carries.

Sophomore John Hunzicker caught one pass for 16 yards while junior Eli Chouinard caught one pass for 10 yards. Chouinard also added 13 rushing yards.

Ultimately, it was North Branch’s turnovers that cost them the game. They fumbled and turned the ball over four times and threw one interception.

With the loss, the Vikings finished their regular season at 2-6, placing them 10th of 12 in the Mississippi Eight Conference with wins over Duluth Denfeld and Duluth East. Rogers clinched the conference title outright with an undefeated 8-0 season.

North Branch earned the fifth seed in Section 4AAAA and faced St. Paul Harding (fourth seed) in St. Paul Tuesday.

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