Ground game carries Rebels past Park Center

Rushing attack produces two 100-yard runners

 

by Nick Clark

Sun POST Newspapers

 

The trip to Park Center is no more than a 10 minute drive for Champlin Park, but it would take the Rebels three full weeks to finally earn what they accomplished in their short trek to play the Pirates Sept. 13.

Riding a ground game that produced a pair of 100 yard rushers and touchdowns from three different backs, and a defense that forced five turnovers, the Rebels defeated Park Center 37-16 for their first win of the football season Friday night.

“It is about time,” said Champlin Park head coach Mike Korton. “We needed this.”

That they had to wait three weeks to find it offered another reminder that nothing appears to be coming easy for the Rebels this fall.

Park Center (0-3) kept it that way for much of the game, staying within a single score until the midway point of the fourth quarter.

But in dire need of a victory, Champlin Park eventually pulled away enough to secure it.

“It feels good to get one, no question,” said junior running back Datrice Mulsumo, who scored a pair of touchdowns to go with his 133-yard effort running the ball. “Hopefully this gives us the confidence to know that we can learn from our mistakes.”

Regardless of the outcome, there were still plenty of those to work through.

Champlin Park junior Datrice Mulsumo and his convoy of blockers head up field during the Rebels 37-16 victory at Park Center Sept. 13. Mulsumo finished his night with 133 rushing yards to go with a pair of touchdowns. (Sun staff photo by Nick Clark)

Champlin Park junior Datrice Mulsumo and his convoy of blockers head up field during the Rebels 37-16 victory at Park Center Sept. 13. Mulsumo finished his night with 133 rushing yards to go with a pair of touchdowns. (Sun staff photo by Nick Clark)

Champlin Park struggled early against Park Center’s athleticism, turning the ball over on an interception that ended the first drive while converting just two of their five first half possessions into points.

The first came on a 10-yard run from Mulsumo with 4:49 left in the first quarter to go ahead 6-0. It would be 9-0 after a 22-yard field goal from Dan Branger in the final minute of the second quarter, but Park Center would drive the length of the field before the half to get on the board on a 21-yard field goal by Emmanuel Thompson.

The Rebels immediately stretched their advantage to 17-3 on Mulsumo’s second touchdown of the night the fist time Champlin Park had the ball in the third quarter, but Park Center would answer with a 67-yard drive that Ronde Berry capped with a short touchdown run.

Branger got that score back on a 38-yard run two plays into the fourth quarter, but again, the Pirates had a response.

This time junior Adam Buirge provided it, taking back the ensuing kick-off 98-yards to keep Park Center in the game.

“That wasn’t what we wanted to do there obviously, but man, can that kid run,” said Champlin Park head coach Mike Korton. “Holy cow was he fun to watch.”

The entertainment factor returned to Champlin Park late.

Alexander ZayZay intercepted a pass and took it back for a touchdown, before Jusias Kalis, who rushed for 104 yards on 12 carries, closed out the scoring with an 18-yard run that put Park Center away for good.

“We played with them for three quarters, but that is not enough,” said Park Center head coach Rickey Foggie. “We have to protect the ball a little better. This was step forward for us, but we have to find a way to finish these type of games.”

The task for the Pirates this week won’t be any easier, as they host Totino-Grace (2-1) at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20 for homecoming.

Champlin Park gets Coon Rapids (1-2) at home.

“We need to come back next week and do it again,” said Mulsumo. “We didn’t play our best, but at halftime, we just said lets start having some fun. Once we started having some fun, we started getting in the endzone. That is what it is about for us.”

 

Contact Nick Clark at nick.clark@ecm-inc.com

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