By Adelle Whitefoot
The Two Harbors football team defeated Proctor for the first time in almost 23 years on Saturday in the Section 7AAA semifinals.
The game was over for the Rails after an interception was made for the second time by Agates senior Alex Lemke with 1:28 left on the clock. Though Lemke’s interception sealed the fate of the Rails, it was Agates senior Kyler Kinn who started Two Harbors off with the first points of the game.
Kinn had all three touchdowns for the Agates with his first being the longest with a 70 yard rush after breaking a few tackles before getting out into open space and putting the Agates up 6-0 in the first. But Two Harbors wouldn’t hold on to that lead too long. On the kickoff return after that touchdown, Proctor senior Travis Carlson returned the ball for a 68 yard touchdown just seconds later.
“It was a breakdown, obviously, and we didn’t contain the kid and it should have been a real easy play,” said Agates head coach Tom Nelson. “But we broke down and they took advantage of it, but I think these guys understand, and we talked about it at the beginning of the game, there’s going to be good times and there’s going to be down times and there’s going to be tough times. You’ve got to overcome those tough times and you got to minimize those up and downs.”
The Agates had the ball going into the second quarter with a first down. They rushed the ball down the field until Two Harbors was stopped on the Rails’ 7 yard line on 3rd and 2. Lemke tried to pass, but it fell incomplete, which brought up 4th down. This time Lemke handed the ball off to Kinn, who broke a tackle before slamming into Proctor’s Jake Malec at about the 2 yard line and pushed and stretched his way in for a touchdown with 9:05 left in the second quarter. This put the Agates up 13-6. Proctor then made their way down the field getting in one last touchdown off a 3 yard rush by Malec before halftime with the Agates winning 13-12.
The third quarter started off with Two Harbors back to receive. The team rushed its way down the field with four carries each for Lucas Kempffer and Kinn and two carries each for Tim Bott and Ricky Hietala. Kinn ended the rush with a 5 yard touchdown run. Jessie Juenemann made her second extra point kick of the game and put the Agates up 20-12.
For the rest of the game Proctor and Two Harbors gave possession of the ball back and forth with one turnover being an interception by Two Harbors’ Lemke in the third quarter. But the last 2 minutes of the game is when it got really exciting for fans.Two Harbors failed to get a first down with just under 2 minutes to go in the game, giving possession to Proctor.
The Rails themselves failed to make it past the Agates defense and fumbled on 4th down, which was recovered by Kempffer with 1:38 left in the game. The Agates themselves also turned the ball over on a fumble on the first rush of the possession and the Rails took over one last time with 1:32 left in the game. The Rails decide to attempt a pass, which was intercepted by Two Harbors’ Lemke with 1:28 left in the game. The Agates took a couple of knees and ran out the clock to win the game 20-12.
“It feels pretty good. We haven’t beat Proctor in 23 years, believe it or not, so it’s been a long time,” Nelson said. “Alex is a very nice athlete. He’s got very good football skills and he just made some nice plays there.”
Nelson said they knew going into game it was going to be a tough one, so it was overwhelming for the players and the entire team to defeat Proctor with some Agates wiping tears of joy from their eyes after the game.
“(Proctor) is a good ball club, they’re well coached, they’re big and they’ve got athletes, so we knew this was going to be a dogfight and it feels very, very good to win, especially with these kids,” Nelson said. “They’re the best group of kids you could work with.”
With a win against Proctor, the Agates move on to the Section 7AAA finals on Thursday at the University of Minnesota-Duluth against Esko at 7 p.m.
“Esko is a very good team. The last time we played them we didn’t do a good job as coaches, especially defensively — we have some things we want to put in place for (the next) game — and offensively, we didn’t think we played real well,” Nelson said. “We know it’s going to be a huge challenge, but we’re very, very excited to play them.”