Ranger football closed its season Friday in a 42-21 loss at No. 4 Mounds View.
Unlike the teams’ regular-season matchup, the section quarterfinal was interesting into the second quarter.
The Mustangs, seeded second in the section, needed just two plays to score on the game’s opening drive, which ended with a 46-yard run 1:01 into the game. But the Rangers got good field position thanks to a long return by Tanner Lane on the ensuing kickoff. Running back Glen Miron lined up as quarterback in a shotgun formation on the first two plays and moved the ball to Mounds View’s 31-yard-line. The senior converted a fourth-and-5 run later in the drive to reach the 20, but the drive would stall as senior Dan Wassman’s fourth-down pass was batted away.
The Mustangs then marched 82 yards and went up 14-0 before Forest Lake again moved deep into Mounds View territory. A slick 17-yard reception along the sideline by Lane and a 16-yard screen pass to Miron put the ball on the 37-yard-line as the first quarter closed.
Another nice pass moved the ball to the 15, but Wassman was intercepted at the 1-yard-line on a ball Lane nearly secured.
It was downhill from there for the Rangers in the first half. Mounds View went up 22-0 with 4:45 remaining in the second quarter, then two Ranger fumbles led to more points. The first was scooped up and ran back for a touchdown, while the second led to the fifth score of the half. Head coach Billy Kirch said the turnovers hurt any offensive momentum his squad had.
“The score should have been 21-0 going into half, but coughing up those two balls before half just killed us,” Kirch said. “It happened earlier in the year and it happened again on Friday.”
The Rangers came out looking sturdier on defense in the second half, outscoring the Mustangs’ second string 7-0 in the third quarter and 14-7 in the fourth.
Wassman scored the touchdown in the third quarter, breaking free for an 80-yard run to the opposite end zone.
“He does good things with his feet,” Kirch said. “Our plan was to simplify the passing game and get him out of the pocket.”
Another 80-yard run for a Ranger touchdown came from Miron in the fourth quarter. A few minutes later, Wassman punched in a last-minute touchdown to bring the final score to 42-21.
The Rangers end the year with an overall record of 0-9. Despite the record, Kirch said his players that stuck with the program learned a lot from this season.
“Football season is a grind, and not having success on Friday nights makes it that much tougher,” Kirch said. “The easy thing to do is turn in your equipment and quit. It takes a lot of courage and character to stick it out, and they faced a lot of adversity. These guys are resilient, and they will be more successful down the road because of the adversity they conquered this season.”