By PATRICK SLACK
Little Falls had so much fun rolling to a win in its homecoming game, it decided to go ahead and enjoy someone else’s.
In what was on paper the one of the biggest upsets this year in the Granite Ridge Conference, the Flyers went into Class AAA’s fifth-ranked Foley and spoiled the Falcons’ night, Friday, churning out a 20-12 victory.
One of the key sequences of the game happened on Foley’s opening possession, as the Falcons worked the ball down to the Little Falls 5-yard line, only to be turned away empty-handed.
“Our defense has done a great job inside the 5-yard line all year,” Little Falls head coach Jay DeCann said. “They have been so physical and dominant in that situation all year.” “They just have the attitude that they are not going to let them score. It was a huge energy lift for our kids once again to shut them down at the goal line.”
The game remained scoreless deep into the second quarter, setting up a wild scramble before halftime.
Junior Austin Fenske connected with junior Bryce Zawatke with a 4-yard touchdown pass with 25 seconds before the break, then the Flyers capitalized on Foley’s aggressiveness in a massive way, as senior Derek McMahan returned an interception 38 yards for a score to make it 14-0.
“It was a huge energy lift to score twice in the last minute of the first half,” DeCann said. “It gave our kids the shift in momentum and allowed us to come out right away in the third quarter and score again.”
That score at the start of the third quarter, a 3-yard run by senior Jalen Wuchko, made the score 20-0, a hole too big for Foley to climb out of.
The Falcons picked up a pair of late touchdowns in the fourth quarter to close the final margin, but not enough to derail the Flyers.
Wuchko finished the night with 141 yards on 34 carries, with Fenske completing all three of his passes to Zawatzke for 72 yards.
McMahan and sophomore Thomas Miller both had interceptions, while the Flyers were also able to contain Foley’s multi-dimensional state track champion Tyler Beehler, holding him to 62 yards receiving, 27 rushing and 23 passing, while limiting senior Luke Kelvington to 86 rushing yards on 23 attempts.
“We spent a lot of time in practice last week with the kids always knowing where Tyler Beehler and Luke Kelvington were aligned,” DeCann said. “Our kids did a great job of tackling their legs in space, which is very difficult to do.”
Foley had scored at least 34 points in four of its first five games.
With the win, Little Falls moved to 3-3 overall, 3-2 in the conference.
The win over the highly-ranked Falcons, more than being a signature win, was more of a reaffirmation of the success the Flyers can have when they play a complete game, DeCann said.
“We have played very good football all year long with the exception of some turnovers,” DeCann said. “When we take care of the football, we have not been beaten. We are two turnovers away from being 5-1 and 5-0 in the Granite Ridge Conference.
“It was nice to see our kids finish the game and believe that they can play four quarters with anyone,” he said. “I think the entire season, on how we are playing physically on both sides of the ball, is putting a signature on our program.”
Little Falls is scheduled to host Mora, Friday.