TRISTIN JOHNSON, defensive back, avoids a blocker and upends a running back for a five-yard loss during Tuesday’s 28-11 win. Hornets lost to Delano on Sat. 40-21.

Hornets advance, 28-11

Staff Writer
Ken Francis


The Big Lake football team won its first section playoff game in 10 years with a 28-11 win over Zimmerman at home Tuesday.
The last time the Hornets won a post-season game was 2003, when Ben Hoglund ran for 284 yards and five touchdowns in a 47-29 win against Grand Rapids.
The Hornets didn’t display that level of offense in Tuesday’s game. Instead, it was the defense that kept the Thunder in check for most of the evening.
Big Lake’s offense got off to a slow start. The Hornets started on their 20 after the kickoff and lost 12 yards on three plays before punting.
A short punt gave Zimmerman excellent field position at the Big Lake 24. But the defense stopped three running plays for a total of seven yards. The Thunder settled for a field goal and a 3-0 lead with 7:44 left in the first quarter.
The Hornet offense sputtered again on their next possession. Kyle Wakefield took the kickoff near the goal line but slipped down at the four-yard line. Quarterback Tyler Halverson got Big Lake out of trouble with a first down on a 17-yard keeper. But he fumbled on the next play, giving the Thunder the ball at the 21. They scored five plays later on a three-yard run for a 9-0 lead.
Big Lake had a good scoring chance on its next possession, with Halverson  running three times for 24 yards and a pass interference penalty that netted 14 yards. But the Hornets came up two inches short on a fourth down play, giving the Thunder the ball at their 29.
The defense came up big on the next series. Tristin Johnson broke through the line and tackled a runner for a five-yard losss. Then Ben Book had a quick tackle on a screen pass that stopped a big gain.
The Hornets didn’t do much with the ball on their next series, but they got on the scoreboard a few minutes later after Book intercepted a deflected pass at the Zimmerman 23. Halverson had a 14-yard keeper to get inside the 10. Three plays later, Book scored on a one-yard run to cut the gap to 9-7 with 6:03 left in the half.
Later in the half after a punt to the Big Lake one-yard line, Zimmerman was awarded a safety when Book was tackled in the end zone. That made the score 11-7.
The Hornets had a chance to score again with less than a minute left after a high snap on a punt attempt. Big Lake recovered the ball on the Zimmerman 33. But after a keeper by Halverson reached the 15, a sack pushed Big Lake back to the 26. It stalled there as time ran out.
Big Lake’s defense picked up where it left off at the start of the second half, holding Zimmerman to four yards on three plays before a punt.
The Hornets responded with a 73-yard drive for a score, with Halverson mixing quarterback keepers with short passes to his receivers. After two running plays, he connected with Wakefield for 16 yards, Poe for nine and Wakefield again for 11 yards. Halverson shook loose from a tackler to find Tanner Snare for 25 yards, then scored on a one-yard keeper for a 14-11 lead with 6:41 left in the third quarter.
It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.
The defense continued to slam the door on the Thunder. They allowed just two yards on the next series, then got a turnover when Book intercepted another pass at the start of the third quarter. Derek Wick recovered a fumbled kickoff at the Zimmerman 18 with seven minutes left, then Snare intercepted a pass with 3:33 left in the game.
Big Lake scored its third touchdown on an 11-yard pass to Poe on a fourth down play near the end of the third quarter.
Book had his second one-yard TD with 7:19 left in the game to put it out of reach.
The Hornets improved to 3-6. They play at #1 Delano (7-1) 3 p.m. today (Saturday.) The winner plays Friday at 7 p.m. against the winner of the #2 Becker (7-1) vs. #3 Orono (7-2) game for the section title.
The Hornets lost to Delano 40-21. Delano and Becker will advance on Friday for the section title.


(From left) Lexi Freund (Big Lake), Betsey Cornelius and Ben Cornelius (Nowthen), Gunner Dorweiler and Colton Dorweiler (Princeton), Ben Manning (Zimmerman), Bailey Dorweiller (Princeton) and Salene Krueger (Big Lake.) The county fair runs from July 16-19. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Dr. Lola Sutherland is retiring from clinical practice after 33 years in the Big Lake community. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

SMITTY’S AMATEUR FIDDLERS CONTEST drew 22 musicians to compete in Big Lake this year. They were accompanied by Gilmore Lee.

LEE GERHARDSON, 47, from New London, was found dead in Big Lake near the swimming beach in 10 feet of water Monday. Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected.

Adopt-a-Road participants volunteer for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and work to clean roadsides that border and bisect refuge land. This spring, from April to June, approximately six individuals, three families, and seven groups, such as boy and girl scouts and 4-H groups, volunteered to clean countless miles of roads. (Submitted photo.)