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Park running back Brandyn Tulloch tries to escape a tackle Friday against Eastview in the Section 3AAAAAA playoffs in Apple Valley. Tulloch and the fifth-seeded Wolfpack fell 42-14 to the fourth-seeded Lightning. (Bulletin photo by Nick Gerhardt)

Park football: Lightning run past Wolfpack, 42-14

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Eastview’s rushing prowess and a good field position throughout the first half spelt disaster for Park Friday in a 42-14 season-ending loss in the first round of the Section 3AAAAAA playoffs at Eastview High School.

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The fourth-seeded Lightning pounded the ball on the ground for 248 yards and that came in spite of starting several drives deep in Wolfpack territory.

Fifth-seeded Park (3-6) had three bad snaps on punt attempts in the first half, which gave Eastview (5-4) a short field and a quick 28-0 lead 13 seconds into the second quarter.

“They took advantage of a short field that whole first quarter,” Wolfpack head coach Darin Glazier said. “They’re a good team. They pound the ball on you, pound the ball on you and by the time we started to have an answer for it, it was already out of reach.”

The Lightning started their second possession at the Park 15-yard line and needed only four plays to go up 14-0. Eastview continued to get good field position on its next possession after another bad snap from the Wolfpack gave the Lightning the ball at Park’s 11-yard line. One play later, Eastview’s Will Rains reined in an 11-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Mark Dwyer to make it 21-0.

Things got worse for the Wolfpack even when the Lightning started drives in their own territory. Beginning at its own 29-yard line Amari Kennedy caught a 67-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-7 from the Eastview 33-yard line.

The third bad snap of the half gave the Lightning the ball at Eastview 45-yard line and five plays later Rains rushed in from 6-yards out to make it 35-0 with 7 minutes, 40 seconds to go in the first half.

Eastview scored touchdowns on its first five possessions of the game.

“The toughest part of coaching, I think, is you never know what’s going to show up from one week to the next, especially with a team that’s starting to learn how to win,” Glazier said. “That’s what these guys were going through this year. You never quite know if they believe they have a shot or not.”

The resounding loss came a week after the Wolfpack played one of their best games of the season in a 36-6 rout of Forest Lake.

Wolfpack senior wide receiver Kenny Gay caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Brandon Alt to briefly spark the team. That touchdown came after senior defensive back Sully Brenke picked off a pass after senior linebacker Anthony Valladares and senior Kyle McDonough tipped the pass on the Lightning’s first possession of the second half.

Alt finished 19 of 41 passing for 204 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Gay caught seven passes for 91 yards.

Senior wide receiver/running back Elias Arlington rushed eight times for 47 yards, completed two of two passes for 33 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 31 yards. Junior running back Brandyn Tulloch caught five passes for 41 yards and junior Jeb Melson had three receptions for 48 yards.

Arlington found Kyle McDonough with 4:24 left to play on a halfback pass for a 16-yard touchdown that made it 42-14.

Senior defensive lineman Cody Linssen had nine tackles while Valladares, sophomore Michael Griffin and senior Kahlen Boich each had eight tackles.

The three victories Park got this season are the most since the 2007 season when the Wolfpack had five. The progress the team made in the win column hasn’t been lost on the players or the coach.

“To me it was really special and to these kids I think it was really special,” Glazier said. “It’s one of the neatest bunch of kids I’ve ever coached and I get emotional just talking about it because a lot of these kids I’m really going to miss. It’s kind of one of those deals I hoped we could have gone out on a higher note than what we did. I would have expected us to.”

The Wolfpack graduate 16 players from this year’s team.

-Nick Gerhardt

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