TWO HARBORS — Proctor’s game plan against Two Harbors was about as pretty as chopped-up Halsted Field, but the Rails epitomized playoff football Tuesday night.
Trevor Lindberg gained 85 yards on 28 hard-fought carries and scored a touchdown after Proctor’s special teams blocked a punt, and the Rails went on to record a 10-6 victory in a Section 7AAA first-round game.
Proctor (4-5) advances to play at top-seeded Esko (6-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“All the little things came together,” Proctor coach Derek Parendo said. “Proctor football has always prided itself on tough ‘D’ first, and we scored just enough points to win.”
On a chilly, damp night with the temperature in the low-40s, Proctor set the stage early by stopping the Agates (5-4) on their first offensive possession and forcing a 13-yard punt.
The Rails then ran Lindberg five consecutive times down to the Agates’ 14 to set up Ben Harnell’s 31-yard field goal.
On the next drive, the Rails blocked a punt to set up shop at the 9-yard line. Two plays later, Lindberg went off tackle from the 5 and muscled his way into the end zone.
“My offensive line was great and I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Lindberg, who had 56 of his 85 yards rushing in the first half. “We love to come down to their house and shove it down their throats.”
The Rails recovered a fumble and forced two three-and-out drives to hold on to their 10-0 lead at halftime.
Lindberg was a big part of the Rails’ second-half philosophy, but the Rails continually ran into problems in other aspects of the game to negate his running.
“We wanted to give it to 26 (Lindberg) and let him run downhill,” Parendo said. “It was unfortunate that when you are getting four yards a crack, all of a sudden you make a mistake or blow an assignment inside or get a penalty and then you are sitting at second-and-14. That doesn’t do well at four yards a crack.”
The Rails played more conservatively on offense knowing that the defense was standing tall. Two Harbors rushed for just 90 yards and completed three passes.
The Agates finally scored four plays after a successful fake punt on fourth-and-6. Cole Komarek hit Garrett Johndahl on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 6:21 left in the game.
The Rails consumed the next four minutes of clock and the defense came through again on the Agates’ final possession.
Proctor only has three days to prepare for the Eskomos, who present a different obstacle.
“It’s going to be a 180 (degree difference),” Parendo said. “Instead of the ground and pound, it’s going to be Air Esko. They’re really fast and they beat us (13-7) earlier in the season, and they are getting better and better.”
Eskomos backup quarterback Jackson Pfister died shortly after collapsing at an Oct. 11 game against Aitkin, and the Esko community has been dealing with the grief since.
“I feel for those guys, losing a teammate like that,” Parendo said. “It will be interesting to see how they play with that emotion. It could really help them or it could hurt them depending on which way it goes. I think Coach (Arntson) will have them ready to go and use that emotion in a positive way.”
Two Harbors 0-0-0-6—6
P — Ben Harnell 31 field goal
P — Trevor Lindberg 5 run (Harnell kick)
TH — Garrett Jordahl 27 pass from Cole Komarek (kick blocked)