Orono running back Aidan Mueller (20) rushed the ball for a third-quarter touchdown against Cooper. Photo: AARON LAVINSKY • firstname.lastname@example.org
Once Graham Beltrand heard the play call, there was no doubt in his mind that something good was about to happen.
Orono had seen a big lead cut to two points and was staring at third-and-long with under four minutes to go. The opponent, Cooper, had stolen the momentum. The Spartans couldn’t afford to give the Hawks the ball one more time.
The call was a halfback pass. The 6-6 Beltrand, normally a wide receiver, lined up in the slot, took the handoff from quarterback Teddy Deters and rolled right. He launched a long pass to teammate Noah Arneson, who had a step on the defender. Arneson hauled it in, fought through a tackle at the 5-yard line and stretched out for a 64-yard, game-capping touchdown in a 22-13 Orono victory.
“I was a little nervous, but I was ready,” Beltrand said when he found out his responsibility. “I saw him get behind the [cornerback] and I knew I had him.”
Orono coach Joe McPherson said his team works frequently on trick plays for just such a situation.
Two short rushing touchdowns by Aidan Mueller and a late 64-yard scoring pass lifted Orono past comeback-minded Cooper.
Mueller’s two scores helped the Spartans build a 15-0 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Hawks came back on a 17-yard touchdown run by Joseph Powell, who lated connected with Broderick Powell on a 28-yard passing play to make the score 15-13.
Orono responded, however, on the 64-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Noah Arneson.
Check back later for more on the game.