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Football: Agates fall short against Proctor

Two Harbors senior Spencer Ross (34) breaks a Proctor tackle during the Section 7AAA semifinals Saturday in Proctor. (Adelle Whitefoot / Lake County News-Chronicle)1 / 3
Two Harbors senior Logan Loiselle (right) intercepts a pass meant for Proctor senior Cody Hampton (right) during the Section 7AAA semifinals Saturday in Proctor. (Adelle Whitefoot / Lake County News-Chronicle)2 / 3
Two Harbors senior Ryan Darsow breaks a tackle gaining a few more yards during the Section 7AAA semifinals against Proctor Saturday in Proctor. (Adelle Whitefoot / Lake County News-Chronicle)3 / 3

Two Harbors senior Spencer Ross ran for 154 yards and a touchdown, but it wasn't enough as the Agates lost for the third straight year in the Section 7AAA semifinals, falling to Proctor 20-10 Saturday in Proctor.

Points were at a premium all day, with defenses dominating for both teams, allowing just three first downs combined in the first half and nine between the teams in the game and the only players to get more than 50 yards of rushing were Ross and Rails' senior John Pioro with 155 yards. The cold weather may have also had an effect on the game, with at least four fumbles on the snap or handoffs by Two Harbors, leading to one recovery by Proctor.

"I thought our defense overall played really, really well, they played good enough for us to win" Two Harbors coach Tom Nelson said. "We knew it was going to be hard getting points and they are a heck of a defense. The frustrating thing is I don't think we've had a fumbled snap or put the ball on the ground with our starters in five weeks."

Proctor got on the board first when Pioro pulled the handoff back from running back Cody Hampton. Pioro went 37-yards on the play for the score and Ben Harnell's extra point made it 7-0 with 6:32 to play in the first quarter.

Late in the first quarter, Two Harbors drove down deep into Rails territory, with Agate senior Spencer Ross setting the Agates up with a first down at the Proctor 24 yard line after a 14-yard run. Ross got the Agates down to the 19, but was stopped for a five yard loss after the Rails' Kaleb Stephens broke through the Agate offensive line and dropped Ross for a five yard loss on third down. Two Harbors kicker and quarterback hit a 42 yard field goal to make the Proctor lead 7-3 early in the second quarter.

Two plays into the ensuing Proctor drive, Logan Loiselle picked off a Pioro pass at the Agate 25. Nelson took a risk three plays later, trying to pick up a fourth and one, but Darsow was stood up at the line of scrimmage, setting Proctor up with good field position and leading to a 34 yard field goal by Harnell.

The teams exchanged possessions in the third quarter, but neither was able to move the ball until Ross took the hand off and was able to turn the corner and outrun Proctor secondary for a 69-yard touchdown to tie the game at 10.

On the next drive, Jordan Linder returned the kick to the Proctor 41 and the Rails drove down the Agate on the strength of a 30 yard run by Pioro, but he was tackled in the backfield for a loss by Two Harbors' Steven Keech for a two yard loss, setting up a 31 yard field goal by Harnell with about eight minutes to play.

Carter Fuchs intercepted Darsow at the Two Harbors 48 yard line on the ensuing drive, but the Agate defense forced Proctor to punt the ball to the Agate 16. Darsow was flagged for intentional grounding at the Agate 1 yard line with 2:30 to play and after an eight yard complete pass to Loiselle, Two Harbors turned the ball over on downs at the Agate nine about 20 seconds later. Pioro sealed Two Harbors' fate with a four yard touchdown run to make the score 20-10.

"There were some opportunities and we just didn't take advantage of them," Nelson said. "But that's a really good football team that we lost to, it's just frustrating because we were in a position to pull out a victory and we didn't, so it hurts."

Two Harbors (8-2) wasn't expected to contend again for a section crown after losing 17 seniors from the 2016 squad, but Nelson was proud of the way his team responded, giving the Agates their best season since the 2015 team went to the Section 7AAA title game.

"I don't think a lot of people really expected us to do much and these guys were fantastic," Nelson said. "I've never met anybody that wants to win more than me, but really there are so many experiences and memories that I have with these guys that even though the loss stings, that's really not the most important thing.

"Unfortunately we lost the game today, but it doesn't change all the great times we had together."

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle in August 2015. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and previously worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. He is the beat writer for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, Silver Bay City Council and high school sports in Lake County. 

(218) 834-2141
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