One day a week Paynesville football players focus on takeaways in practice. Bulldogs senior Dalton Christinsen said, "We call it Turnover Tuesday."
The practice paid off Friday night when the Bulldogs capitalized on seven turnovers in a 56-8 rout of Moose Lake-Willow River during their Class 2A quarterfinal in North Branch. Senior safety Levi Bast led the charge for Paynesville with two interceptions.
"It was just perfect defense by everybody," Bast said.
Christinsen, a running back who also plays linebacker for Paynesville (10-1), scored three touchdowns, on runs of 5, 25 and 39 yards.
"There were just some giant holes out there," he said. "Honestly, I don't have that many yards and three touchdowns without my offensive line."
Moose Lake-Willow River (8-3) didn't score until late in the game when fullback Jordan Fjosne scored on a 4-yard touchdown. The Rebels' portion of the crowd erupted on a night when little went their way.
"It gave me goose bumps," said Fjosne, who returned to football as a senior this fall after not playing as a junior. "It was just amazing."
Paynesville, which lost in the semifinals in the past two years at U.S. Bank Stadium, earned a third consecutive trip next week.
Bast, a starter since his sophomore year, called it "a dream come true."