Early turnovers hurt Huskies in loss to Trojans

News Photo by James Andersen Central Lake quarterback Gavin Mortensen (9) gets by Atlanta defender Dallas Robertson for a gain in the first quarter of a football game on Friday at Atlanta High School.

ATLANTA–With a fresh set of downs in Atlanta territory, Gavin Mortensen dropped back to pass.

Finding his receivers covered, Mortensen moved forward, looking for an open man. As Atlanta defenders converged, Mortensen scrambled backward was nearly tackled for a sack as Atlanta players got ahold of him.

And then, there was Mortensen breaking away from the defense and scrambling down the field for a 19-yard gain.

Plays like these allowed Mortensen to run all over Atlanta’s defense all night and help his Central Lake team to a 58-30 win over the Huskies on Friday at Atlanta High School.

Mortensen ran for two scores and passed for three more and the Trojans used a multiple-pronged running attack to move to 7-0 on the year. Central Lake also converted three Atlanta turnovers into touchdowns.

The Huskies (3-4) trailed 38-8 at halftime and moved the ball better in the second half, but the early turnovers ultimately cost them a chance to rally back late.

“Coming into it we knew it was going to be a tough game. Central Lake is ranked fourth in the state right now I do believe, but I thought we had a chance,” Atlanta coach Troy Cheedie said. “I thought turnovers early hurt us. I think if we didn’t have those turnovers, we’re right in the ball game.”

Mortensen finished with 142 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries and was 6-of-10 passing for 107 yards and three scores. Two of the passing touchdowns went to Jayce Hoogerhyde for 11 and four yards respectively and the other went to Grant Papineau for 24 yards.

Papineau added 116 yards and a touchdown on t8 carries and Skyler Spangler had 120 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

In all, Central Lake racked up 416 rushing yards and 523 yards of total offense.

“He (Mortensen) was slippery and (Papineau) he’s a strong runner; tough to tackle up high,” Cheedie said. “A few of the big runs he had that’s exactly what happened, guys tried to grab him up high and you’ve got to wrap him up low to get those big guys down.”

Trailing by 30 at halftime, the Huskies’ first drive of the second half started promising as Atlanta started around midfield and drove into Central Lake territory. On a 3rd-and-3 from the 23, a pass from Austin Corbin to Kody Reeves was fumbled inside the red zone and recovered by Central Lake.

On the ensuing drive, Central Lake marched 75 yards in seven plays and Mortensen found Hoogerhyde for a four-yard touchdown to end the drive and give the Trojans a 44-8 lead.

Atlanta rallied on its next drive as Dallas Robertson found some space and ran 36 yards for a score. An added conversion run by Reece Wood made it 44-16 with 2:48 left in the third quarter.

The two teams traded scores on the next four drives, but the fumble and two first half turnovers prevented Atlanta from getting any closer.

Papineau scored on a 26-yard run with 1:36 left in the third quarter and Atlanta responded with a 57-yard touchdown run from Wood and a conversion to make it 50-24 with 1:08 left in the quarter.

Central Lake scored again with 6:24 left, this time on a four-yard run from Spangler and Atlanta scored on the next drive as Robertson scored on a three-yard plunge with 4:32 left.

Robertson had 48 yards on six carries to go with two scores and Wood led Atlanta on the ground with 156 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Corbin was 7-of-19 passing for 59 yards and Reeves had four catches for 42 yards.

Central Lake established its ground game early, scoring three times on the ground in the first half and picking up big chunks of yardage on each drive.

After a 10-yard touchdown run from Spangler to start the game, Central Lake recovered an Atlanta fumble and Hoogerhyde later scored on an 11-yard touchdown catch, giving the Trojans a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Mortensen (27 yards and 12 yards) added two touchdown runs and threw a 24-yard touchdown strike to Papineau just before halftime after another fumble recovery.

Atlanta got on the board with 5:04 left in the half as Corbin ran just inside the right pylon for a four-yard touchdown. Robertson added a successful conversion run.

Despite consecutive losses, the Huskies remain focused on the playoffs and could still get there with wins in their final two games.

“I’m proud of them for battling like they did in the second half. We still have a shot,” Cheedie said. “We have two games left, Hale and Brethren and if we can beat both of those teams we still have a shot at making the playoffs. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

James Andersen can be reached via email at sports@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5694. Follow James on Twitter @ja_alpenanews.