Down 24 points late in the first half, Duluth East’s football team needed a big shakeup to rally against Hermantown on Friday night.
And like a shaken snow globe, the Greyhounds turned a listless performance into an epic comeback in a 41-24 victory over the Hawks at snowy Centricity Stadium/Corey Veech Field.
Spurred by a late first-half scoring drive and another to start the second half, East (2-1) scored 41 unanswered points over the final 24 minutes and 27 seconds.
Sophomore running back Austan Orvedahl ran for 141 yards on 21 carries and scored three second-half touchdowns, including the go-ahead 1-yard score with 3:39 remaining in the third quarter.
“We started out rough in the first half, including me, but we believed and kicked it into gear and improved in the second half,” Orvedahl said.
The Greyhounds rushed for 280 yards and quarterback Dean Hudoba threw for another 115. All but 39 of those 395 total yards came after the 2-minute mark in the second quarter.
That’s when Hermantown fullback Robbie Thorsten plunged in from the 1 for the Hawks’ fourth TD of the half and apparent victory.
“I think our guys lacked a little in confidence,” East coach Joe Hietala said. “In the first quarter-and-a-half, we couldn’t seem to get anything right.”
But the Greyhounds put together an eight-play drive, aided by a late-hit penalty, to score on Aaron DeBeir’s 2-yard run with 27 seconds left in the half.
Suddenly a 24-6 halftime deficit didn’t look as bad.
“We scored at the end of the first half and carried that momentum into the second half,” Hietala said. “Boy, that was a lot of fun. I didn’t anticipate an outcome like this the way we played in the first quarter.”
Orvedahl capped a six-play, 61-yard drive to open the second half by taking a handoff for the final 25 yards.
“That hyped us up a little bit and made us believe we could do it,” Orvedahl said of the back-to-back scoring drives.
The defense forced a three-and-out and East then gambled on fourth-and-10 from midfield as Hudoba found tight end Simon Randorf behind the defense for a 50-yard touchdown.
“On a night like this with field conditions like this, the kicking game was iffy at best,” Hietala said of the sub-freezing temperature. “We thought we might as well put it out there. We saw something that their defense was doing and we thought we could get Simon in the seam, and sure enough we scored on that play.”
One play later, Hermantown (1-2) fumbled and East needed only five plays to take the lead for the first time at 27-24 on an Orvedahl run.
By that time, East had all the momentum and continued it by scoring on its next two drives. Orvedahl raced in from 20 yards out and Randorf caught a 22-yard TD pass down the middle again to secure the signature win.
Duluth East 0-6-21-14—41
H — Michael Lau 1 run (kick failed)
H — Daniel Walsh 38 pass from Lau (pass failed)
H — Gavin Blomdahl 3 run (run failed)
H — Robbie Thorsten 1 run (pass failed)
DE — Aaron DeBeir 2 run (run failed)
DE — Austan Orvedahl 25 run (run failed)
DE — Simon Randorf 50 pass from Dean Hudoba (Tanek Kittilson kick)
DE — Orvedahl 1 run (Orvedahl run)
DE — Orvedahl 20 run (run failed)
DE — Randorf 22 pass from Hudoba (DeBeir run)