SLP football falls short in valiant comeback attempt

It didn’t result in the first win of the fall.

Spring Lake Park junior Mason Johnson drags a pair of Armstrong defenders as he fights for extra yardage. Photo by Chris Chesky
Spring Lake Park junior Mason Johnson drags a pair of Armstrong defenders as he fights for extra yardage. Photo by Chris Chesky

But after a tough first six quarters of football to start the season, Spring Lake Park’s furious second half comeback attempt in its second game provided a glimpse of the team’s potential, and hopefully a springboard into the next stage of the fall schedule.

After a 35-0 loss in the season opener to Irondale, Spring Lake Park found itself in a 27-0 hole in the second quarter on Friday against visiting Robbinsdale Armstrong.

The Panthers would get on the board late in the second quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Pedro Pliego, then continue working back into the contest in the second half.

Zach Dunbar found the end zone from four yards out in the third quarter, followed by a two-point conversion run by Sam Fritz to cut Armstrong’s lead to 27-11.

Dunbar would score again in the fourth, but this time the Panthers could not convert the two-point try, leaving them two possessions behind at 27-17.

Brian Orellana-Lopez scored on a 5-yard run with five minutes to play to cut the gap to 27-24, but Armstrong managed to run out the clock to hang on for the win.

“(I) felt better about the second half, as we hadn’t scored a touchdown yet to that point,” Spring Lake Park head coach Jeff Schlieff said. “The offense converted third and fourth down conversions to keep drives going.”

Whether the team will be able to build off of the strong finish will be determined at home on Sept. 15 against 2-0 Robbinsdale Cooper in a rematch of last year’s Section 5-5A finals.

“They always have great athletes,” Schlieff said. “They are 2-0, we are 0-2. I expect them to be very tough.”

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