Northland Pines junior linebacker Kevin John grabbed the jersey of the Rib Lake-Prentice quarterback before teammates arrived to bring down the runner for a short gain.
Northland Pines junior linebacker Kevin John grabbed the jersey of the Rib Lake-Prentice quarterback before teammates arrived to bring down the runner for a short gain.
Ryan Peterson scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns and the defense held Rib Lake-Prentice scoreless in the second half in Northland Pines’s 24-14 victory in a football game in Eagle River Friday night.

“This was flat out the best game we have played this season, and probably in the last couple of seasons,” said Pines coach A.J. Zayia. “We played a complete game.”

The Eagles did have three turnovers in the first half, preventing Pines from putting more points on the board.

“I was proud of the resiliency of our team. We lost two fumbles, threw an interception and had an onside kick recovered against us in this game,” said Zayia. “We had every excuse to crumble, but our guys responded every time we hit adversity. I am extremely proud of our guys.”

Rib Lake-Prentice got on the scoreboard in the first half following a Pines fumble in Hawks’s territory. The two-point conversion made it 8-0.

The Eagles responded early in the second quarter as quarterback Ryan Peterson scored on a 1-yard sneak. the two-point conversion was no good and Pines trailed 8-6, Rib Lake-Prentice took a 14-6 lead midway through the second quarter. 

But with 56 seconds remaining in the half, Peterson launched a 21-yard touchdown pass into the right corner of the end zone to Foster Hakes, who made a nice over-the-shoulder catch with a defender on his hip. The two-point conversion pass from Peterson to Nick Blaedow tied the game at 14-14 at the half.

“It was a tight game from start to finish,” said Zayia. “Rib Lake-Prentice was an extremely physical and very well-coached team. We knew going in we would have to play our best game of the season.”

Neither team scored in the third quarter.

With just under 11 minutes remaining in the game, Peterson broke free on a long run to put the Eagles in the red zone and the touchdown drive came to an end when Peterson ran the ball in from two yards out to give Pines a 20-14 lead.

The Eagles defense then held the Hawks on their next series and Pines got an insurance touchdown with 2:27 remaining as Peterson scored on another 1-yard sneak.

Zayia said he was happy with the way his team played on both sides of the ball.

“Offensively, we moved the ball and really controlled the line of scrimmage as the game went on,” he said. “Defensively, we kept their run game in check and shut them out in the second half.

Peterson led the offense with 129 yards rushing on 17 carries. Andrew Rothmeier had 61 yards on nine attempts and Tyler Hunt carried the ball seven times for 23 yards. Peterson also completed four of seven passes for 62 yards. 

Defensively, Gunnar Shiffmann had four solo tackles, six assists and one big sack in the fourth quarter. Peterson added four tackles and 11 assists. Patrick Heck had four tackles and one assist and Hunt had three tackles and five assists. Blaedow had eight assisted tackles and Tucker Wittkopf had one solo tackle and eight assists.

Zayia said there was another factor in the game.

“One of the underrated keys to this game was our sidelines. Our guys on the bench were loud all game and really gave us the 12th-man advantage,” said Zayia.

Pines, 3-1 overall playing an independent schedule, will travel to Hurley this Friday, Sept. 14, for a 7 p.m. game.

“Were sitting at 3-1. We have a big week coming up against Hurley. We need to continue building on the success we have had in the last few weeks,” said Zayia.