Rangers lose home opener to Hastings

Senior Leighton Bierman breaks away from a Hastings defender last Thursday night. Photo by TLC Digital Images
Senior Leighton Bierman breaks away from a Hastings defender last Thursday night. Photo by TLC Digital Images



The Forest Lake football team kept the home fans on the edge of their seats Thursday, Aug. 29, in the season opener.

Though the Rangers fell to Hastings, 20-9, Forest Lake kept the Raiders at bay much of the first half. With less than two minutes to go in the second quarter, Hastings running back Shane Anderson crossed the goal line to put the Raiders on the scoreboard.

Hastings scored again in the third quarter to take a 14-0 lead, but this time Forest Lake answered when junior quarterback Brandon Rogers kept the ball for a 1-yard score. The Rangers were not able to complete a two-point conversion.

The Forest Lake offense chipped away two more times for opportunities in the red zone, but suffered setbacks with holding penalties on the line.

With eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Rogers connected with senior wide receiver Mike Aho on the right sideline for a first down in Raider territory. Senior fullback Leighton Bierman carried the ball for another Forest Lake first down to put the Rangers in scoring position, but a holding penalty and incomplete pass forced the home team to rely on kicker John Eiden. The sophomore placed a 43-yard field goal through the uprights to bring the Rangers within five at 14-9.

Hastings took the ball back with 6:16 to go in the game, and the Forest Lake defense couldn’t contain the Raiders as they scored once more to secure the 20-9 victory.

“On defense, we’ve got to be able to stop the other team at the end of the game and get the ball back in our hands,” head coach Billy Kirch said. “We didn’t do a good job of that, and that’s something to work on for next week.”

Rogers completed 11 of 26 passes for 115 yards, while senior receiver Dan Wassman led in yardage, averaging 12.4 per touch for 62 total yards. Bierman earned 58 yards on six carries while sophomore running back Nic Norem ran for 19 yards. Aho recorded 26 yards while senior Payton Zeidler had 21.

On defense, senior Andrew Murray had one sack while junior Nick McCormick recorded an interception.

“Overall, I thought the kids competed hard and did a lot of things well,” Kirch said. “It was fun to watch them compete and hang in there, but again, we do have things to work on.”

Kirch said the defensive line is preparing for a strong power-run game by Stillwater for this Friday’s 7 p.m. matchup on the road.

“They have some explosive guys on offense and we have to be strong and disciplined on defense,” Kirch said. “We have to play tough, be physical and play with great leverage.”