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Park football: Cretin-Derham Hall too much for Wolfpack in 42-21 loss

Park senior wide receiver Elias Arlington tries to get past a defender Friday against Cretin-Derham Hall in Cottage Grove. The Wolfpack fell 42-21 to the Raiders. (Bulletin photo by Nick Gerhardt) 1 / 2
Park freshman quarterback Brandon Alt attempts a pass Friday against Cretin-Derham Hall in Cottage Grove. Alt completed 23 of 39 passes in a 42-21 loss.2 / 2

Cretin-Derham Hall turned several Park miscues into a 42-21 blowout victory Friday in Cottage Grove.

The lopsided loss came a week after the emotional high the Wolfpack experienced when they defeated Woodbury 36-28 on homecoming for the first time since 2002. Park head coach Darin Glazier admitted it’d be difficult to follow such a game with another solid performance against a markedly better team.

“I think it’s always tough to follow up an emotional game like that with another strong, strong performance,” Glazier said. “We showed flashes but we also fell back into the mental mistakes, the penalties, the turnovers. Those are the types of things that kind of come with that mental focus.”

The Wolfpack (2-5, 2-5 SEC) had four turnovers in the game, three of which led to Raiders touchdowns. Cretin-Derham Hall (5-2, 5-2 SEC) scored one of those touchdowns courtesy of recovering a Park fumble in its own end zone that put the Raiders up 14-0 in the first quarter.

The Wolfpack faced that early deficit despite opening the game on a strong note. Park put together an opening drive of 18 plays behind its run-heavy bulldog offense, but stalled out on the Raiders’ 12-yard line when a fourth-and-8 pass attempt fell incomplete.

 “It’s always tough to move the ball running the ball on a team that’s bigger than you are,” Glazier said. “You’ve got to control the line of scrimmage and it was good to see us do that against a team that size. I felt pretty optimistic. I think that group has gotten some confidence running that offense. The problem is a number of those guys that are on the bulldog offense are defensive players so we wear ourselves down as well.”

Glazier noted that the team has made progress this season with its mentality in games, but facing traditional powers like Cretin-Derham Hall and finding confidence is one hurdle left for the program to overcome.

“I’m not sure we’ve solved the problem of believing that we can win every week,” Glazier said. “It’s kind of a feeling I get against some of these teams where they feel like they just don’t have a shot.”

The Wolfpack’s second drive started also started well as they went nine plays before an interception ended the drive at Cretin-Derham Hall’s 37-yard line. The Raiders returned the pick to Park’s 11-yard line and went up 7-0 on a 3-yard run by running back Blake Banham, one of three touchdowns by Banham in the game.

On the next possession the Wolfpack lost a fumble in their own end zone to further compound their struggles.

“I really felt we played them even that first quarter and then to be down 14-0 was frustrating,” Glazier said. “I think we had an opportunity to overcome an interception, but to try to overcome a snap over the head and giving them another touchdown just like that … you just can’t do that against better teams.”

Park finally cashed in on a drive following the fumble in the end zone when freshman quarterback Brandon Alt found junior running back Brandyn Tulloch for an 18-yard touchdown pass seven seconds into the second quarter to make it 14-7.

Alt finished 23 of 39 passing for 256 yards two touchdowns and three interceptions. Junior Jeb Melson caught seven passes for 89 yards and one touchdown. Senior Elias Arlington had five catches for 61 yards and senior Ken Gay caught five passes for 52 yards. Tulloch finished with four catches for 49 yards.

The Wolfpack trailed 21-7 to start the second half, but the Raiders found a groove to take control of the game touchdowns on its first two possessions of the half to build a 35-7 lead by the end of the quarter.

Park turned the ball over for the fourth time of the game on the second play from scrimmage in its first drive of the second half. Cretin-Derham Hall turned that into another touchdown on a 1-yard run from Banham after starting the drive at the Wolfpack 13-yard line.

The Raiders pushed the lead to 42-7 after a 6-yard touchdown run from Brison White.

Park came back for two touchdowns in the quarter to salvage something. Alt found Melson for a 12-yard touchdown and later Arlington rushed from 2 yards out after the Wolfpack recovered a muffed punt at Cretin-Derham Hall’s 25-yard line.

The Raiders finished with just 234 yards of offense, but played with a short field for much of the game. Senior Anthony Valladares led the Park defense with seven tackles. Senior Sully Brenke had six tackles and senior Edgar Espinoza had five tackles.

The Wolfpack face a short week with their next game against winless Forest LakeWednesday in Forest Lake. Glazier said the team cannot overlook the Rangers in the regular season finale.

“We’re not a good enough team to overlook anybody,” Glazier said. “They’ve got a shot at winning one game this year and that’s us.”

-Nick Gerhardt