Laurel experiences déjà vu in Belgrade

By: 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer

Laurel jumped out to an early 2-touchdown lead then went scoreless in the second half for the second consecutive week, but held on to beat the Belgrade Panthers 22-15 and improve to 5-0.
Coach Mike Ludwig said this pattern is becoming the norm.
“We need to play more than [just] two quarters. If we can’t play a complete game it’s going to come back and bite us.”
The Locos were down two running backs as Ethan Renner and Cameron Clark suffered injuries in the Homecoming game and didn’t play in Belgrade.
Senior running back BJ Hatcher became eligible last week and Ludwig was glad to have additional experience at the position.
A blocked punt on the Panther’s opening drive put the Locos in the red zone on the Panther 7. Hatcher punched it in on third-and-goal from the one and Logan Kennedy added the extra point to give Laurel the 7-0 lead three minutes into the first.
Ludwig said it was a good start. “One of our goals was to disrupt a punt or a field goal.”
On third-and-12 from the Belgrade 25, Keagan Campbell had a pick-six to go up 14-0, after a successful Kennedy kick.
Ludwig said Campbell “broke a few tackles and fought hard to get in the end zone.”
After a Belgrade punt, Laurel fumbled on the Panther 46 and Belgrade scored on a 1-yard run on the second play of the second quarter. After a blocked extra point the score was 14-6.
Laurel’s next drive started at 11:26 in the half and burned seven minutes of the clock, covering 80 yards and resulting in a 5-yard Noah Gunther TD run. A 2-point conversion pass from Campbell to Gunther gave the Locos the 22-6 lead into halftime.
Laurel received the second half kickoff and turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert on a fourth-and 1 run.
On third-and-1 from the Laurel 23, Deklan Harper picked off a Panther pass on the Laurel 4. After failing to gain a first down, the Locos attempted to punt on fourth-and-6, but the snap went over Kennedy’s head. The play resulted in a safety and two points for Belgrade with 4:07 left in the third.
Laurel traded punts with Belgrade until 4:12 left in the fourth, when Laurel failed to score on a first-and-goal from the Panther 6.
Belgrade got the ball back at the three and advanced it to the 46 before a 50-yard completion got them to the 4. They punched it in on the next play and the extra point made it 22-15 with 2:19 left in the game.
After Gunther got a first down to the Laurel 30, Hull threw a pick giving the Panthers a first-and-10 on the Laurel 36 with 1:39 left. On second-and-10 the Panthers completed a 13-yard first down pass to the Laurel 23, but were called for holding, bringing up second-and-22. The Loco defense stepped up, forcing two incomplete passes and leaving Belgrade with one last chance on fourth-and-22. The pass was incomplete and Laurel ran the clock out for the 22-15 victory.
Ludwig said that although they had fewer penalties this game–8 for 50 yards–it’s still far too many.
“The false starts are hurting us. With key running backs out, starting with first-and-15 digs a hole. The goal is to have no more than 20 yards in penalties from the offense,” he said.
The Locos host 3-2 Glendive tomorrow and Ludwig said they are a good team with big lineman.
“They had a big win against Havre last week, and after watching film I think their strength is a good offensive and defensive line.”
Ludwig said both injured Loco running backs should be ready by tomorrow.
“Ethan is back and Cameron thinks he’ll be ready,” Ludwig said, adding, “we just need to play a full game of football.”
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at the Laurel Sports Complex.

Laurel 14 8 0 0 — 22
Belgrade 0 6 2 7 — 15

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