MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — In the end, the Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks trailed six-time state champion Mahnomen in nearly every statistic.
Every statistic except for two crucial ones: takeaways and touchdowns.
Justin Lee and Esten Weber each ran for two touchdowns and Evan Robertson tied a Minnesota Prep Bowl record with three interceptions as the third-ranked Blackjacks defeated No. 2 Mahnomen 35-20 on Friday to win the state 1A championship.
In their first-ever trip to the Prep Bowl, the Blackjacks were outgained on offensive yardage but more than made up for it by pouncing on several costly mistakes made by the Indians.
Mahnomen entered averaging 40.2 points per game and hadn’t scored fewer than 27 points all season. The Indians actually moved the ball well against the Blackjacks, but committed five turnovers — two of which led to Dawson-Boyd touchdowns.
“All week people have been saying how they’re the most physical team in the state and that we weren’t nearly as physical,” Weber said. “We wanted to come in and prove we’re just as physical, if not more.”
Weber led the Blackjacks with 90 yards rushing and Lee had 87.
Quarterback Jacob Pavek led Mahnomen with 153 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Avery Fairbanks also had a rushing touchdown for the Indians.
The game didn’t showcase much for passing. Blackjacks quarterback Joey Lee completed 7 of 10 passes for 92 yards, while Pavek only completed 3 of 8 for 32 yards.
Unfortunately for the Indians, he also completed three passes to Robertson.
Trailing 28-14, Pavek tossed his second interception to Robertson, who returned the pick 23 yards to the Mahnomen 23. The Indians held, though, and caught a break when Nathan Hanson intercepted Joey Lee on fourth down. But on the next series, Pavek again threw into Robertson’s arms on third down deep in his own territory.
Five plays later, Weber scored on an 18-yard run to put the game out of reach.
“It would be sweet no matter who it was, it doesn’t matter,” Joey Lee said. “They’re a very good football team and that’s why they’re here. I guess we just proved we’re the best team in the state, and it was awesome.”
Besides the three interceptions, the Indians also fumbled twice in the first half — one of which led to the Blackjacks’ third touchdown to make it 21-6 heading into halftime.
“I can live with a couple of those interceptions in the second half because we were trying to force the issue,” Mahnomen coach John Clark said. “But the fumbles in the first half hurt. I think we only punted once, so I’m not really sure they stopped us all that much, we just kinda stopped ourselves.”
Fairbanks had 98 yards rushing on 25 carries for Mahnomen.
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