Mounds View proved why it is a top-10 team in the state Friday night by defeating Forest Lake 49-13, scoring on its first two plays of the game off a vertical pass and 40-yard run.
The Mustangs would score once more in the first quarter and again in the second quarter with 1:39 remaining.
With a 28-0 deficit, Forest Lake attempted a reverse, but committed its only turnover of the game with a fumble on the exchange to give the ball back to the Mustangs.
Mounds View took advantage on the final drive of the half by scoring another touchdown to go up 35-0 off a 4-yard pass to the corner of the end zone.
The visiting team would score again to take a 42-0 lead to start the third quarter before Forest Lake put up some points of its own.
Senior Leighton Bierman put Forest Lake on the board in the third quarter with a 23-yard touchdown run, followed by the extra point by junior Paxton Eiden.
Following another Mustang touchdown in the third quarter, Ranger running back Nic Norem rushed for a 2-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the home team 13 points and completing the scoring for the game.
Head coach Billy Kirch said the loss came down to simple X’s and O’s.
“It wasn’t penalties or turnovers, they just executed better than we did,” Kirch said. “You look back at the game tape and see seven to eight guys doing everything right, but then you see two to three making mistakes on a lot of plays. Mounds View is one of those teams that will take advantage of those mistakes.”
Forest Lake kept up with Mounds View in the rushing game, recording 188 yards in 31 attempts compared to 187 yards for the visitors. But the Mustangs passed for 195 yards on nine completions next to the Rangers’ 15 yards on three completions.
Junior quarterback Brandon Rogers led in rushing yards with 72 on five carries, followed by the sophomore, Norem, with 50 yards on 12 carries. Senior Mike Aho added 33 yards. Senior Dan Wassman recorded 15 yards on two receptions.
Six Ranger defenders tackled for loss: Andrew Murray, Zach Voss, Bierman, Zach Maciej, Brent Kinder and Zach Rosenthal.
The numbers show improvement from last year’s squad, which fell to the Mustangs 61-0 with just 20 yards rushing compared to Mounds View’s 423 yards. Kirch said he is liking what he sees with the new Ranger offense this season and thinks it will start producing results once everyone is on the same page.
“I really like it,” Kirch said. “It is flexible for making adjustments based on what the defense is giving us inside and outside. That part is exciting; now we just need to be more disciplined in executing and understanding our jobs.”