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Prep football: Eskomos' defense shines in 24-6 triumph over Mora

The unit has surrendered only six points over its first two games in wins over Denfeld and Mora.

Joey Antonutti.jpg
Esko junior Joey Antonutti is pictured during Friday, Sept. 9's game vs. Mora at Esko.
Amy Arntson / For the News Tribune
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ESKO — A week removed from their season-opening 53-0 rout of Denfeld, Esko (2-0) put together another smothering effort on the defensive side of the ball to defeat Mora 24-6, Friday, Sept. 6, at Esko Stadium Field.

Esko head coach Scott Arntson praised the defensive unit’s dependability throughout the contest against the run-heavy Mustangs.

“Our defense is outstanding. Those guys get after it,” Arntson said. “I think coach (George) Perich does a fantastic job of getting them ready to go and getting them prepared, so I’ve got nothing but praise to say about our defensive side. That’s really what won the game for sure for us.”

The home team was held scoreless in the opening quarter due in large part to penalties, but bounced back with a 14-point second frame led by quarterback Ty Christensen.

The 5-foot-10 signal-caller drove the offense 66 yards down the field on a scoring drive early in the second quarter, capped off by a 36-yard connection with junior Koi Perich in the end zone.

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The Mustangs nearly knotted the game up at 7 apiece after recovering a fumble at the Eskomos' 27-yard line late in the first half. Penalties and a strong defensive stand by Esko, highlighted by a Carter Zezulka sack, gave the ball right back to Christensen.

With the clock winding down before halftime, the Eskomos put together a backbreaking 80-yard scoring possession orchestrated by Christensen, who bought the offense across midfield with a 30-yard quarterback keeper.

After the drive momentarily stalled with 42 seconds remaining and facing 4th-and-long, Christensen threw his second touchdown of the game on a 28-yard heave off his back foot into the hands of Zezulka in the end zone. The 14-0 score stood into halftime.

While the offense shined in key spots, Christensen said the unit still has areas in need of shoring up.

“Honestly, I think we still have a lot to improve,” Christensen said. ”I think once we’re at full strength, we’ll be a really tough team to beat. But I’d say we still have a good amount to clean up.”

On the opening kickoff of the second half, Perich added his second special teams touchdown of the season, a highlight-reel 95-yard kick return to put the Eskomos up 21-0.

“He’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of athletes that comes around when you’re coaching, so he definitely does a fantastic job,” Arntson said of Perich.

The Mustangs went on to score their lone touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter on a goal-line plunge by quarterback Avery Nelson, but a field goal by the Eskomos on the ensuing offensive possession sealed the victory in a 24-6 final.

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The Eskomos will look to improve to 3-0 on the season when they travel to Proctor for their next game against the Rails, Friday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m.

Related Topics: ESKO ESKOMOSESKO
Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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