PINE ISLAND — Red Wing opened its football season Saturday with a matinee game against Pine Island. Although the scoreboard read 28-6 at the final whistle, the play on the field was much closer than the score would indicate as the Wingers were handed their first loss of the season. Penalties and mental mistakes, as well as the inability to finish on key plays were what kept Red Wing away from getting its first win in three years.
Pine Island marched down the field on the first drive of the game and took a 7-0 lead after a touchdown and successful extra-point attempt. Red Wing replicated the Panthers' effort in their first drive of the game by marching down to the Pine Island 28-yard line. Facing a fourth-and-8, Red Wing quarterback Abe Reinitz — who received his first varsity start — was sacked after a 14-play drive.
Reinitz was pressed into service as the incumbent starter, Cooper Chandler, was out this game due to an injury.
Red Wing recovered nicely on defense with an interception by Maurice Rosebear to give the Wingers the ball back, but they were forced to punt after only advancing the ball 14 yards. The Wingers defense held firm in Pine Island's next three plays to force a punt, however the Panthers successfully converted on a fake-punt attempt to prolong their drive. The play proved to be costly for Red Wing as Pine Island went on to score with 1:41 left in the half to take a 14-0 lead.
Red Wing went three-and-out to end the half.
Once the second half began, Red Wing was plagued by penalties and mistakes. The Wingers received the ball to start the third quarter and were forced into a fourth-and-2 situation inside their own 35-yard line. Red Wing gambled and went for it, and appeared to convert on a Reinitz scramble, but a holding call brought the ball pack and a punt ensued.
Again Pine Island punished Red Wing for the mistake and scored a touchdown on their opening drive of the half to push their lead to 21-0.
A good return on the kickoff put Red Wing at their own 48-yard line to start their next drive but again went three-and-out. Kaleb Hove started the drive with a 9-yard run, but Red Wing was called for holding on what would have been a first down to make it second-and-14. A fumbled snap on second down, followed by a dropped snap on third down which resulted in a Tyler Rodgers catch that was brought back on an ineligible receiver downfield penalty brought on the punt team for Red Wing.
In what seemed like a certainty, Pine Island again punished the Wingers for their mistake and scored their fourth touchdown of the game to push their lead to 28-0.
Hove brought some life into the game for Red Wing on the ensuing kickoff return, bringing it all the way down to Pine Island's 11-yard line. Antonio Finley scored on a 5-yard touchdown run moments later to trim the lead to 28-6 after the extra-point attempt was blocked.
In Pine Island's next possession, Tyler Rodgers intercepted a tipped pass and Red Wing took over at the Pine Island 42-yard line. The momentum took a big swing in the Wingers' favor and they marched down to the 4-yard line but Reinitz threw an interception on third down with 4:50 remaining in the game. The Panthers bled out the rest of the clock with a successful run attack to get their first win of the season.
"We ran out of gas a little bit but we did have opportunities this game," Red Wing head football coach Nate Freier said. "In the end, if we want to play the way we want to play, we have to eliminate the mistakes. We have to always gain positive yardage on every play. On defense, we have to understand our relative spacing and positioning on the field."