EVELETH — The fourth-seeded Eveleth-Gilbert football team saw two massive touchdown runs from senior quarterback Nick Beaudette, but it wasn’t enough as the Bears fell to No. 5 Royalton at home Tuesday night 36-19.
The loss eliminated the Golden Bears from the 7AA playoffs with their final record standing at 3-6.
Cold, wet field conditions made it perfect for both teams’ ground games to come out. Eveleth-Gilbert’s first drive didn’t amount to anything but the Bears defense came up big on the Royals opening possession. After two big plays from Royalton running backs Brady Conrad and Aaron Block to open things up, a Royals fumble recovered by E-G’s Cameron Peterson gave the ball back to the Bears.
One more drive from each team resulted in a pair of punts and the Bears began another drive from their own 20-yard line. E-G quarterback Nick Beaudette got his first big run of the game with three minutes to play and ran for 80 yards to pay dirt to put the Bears up 7-0 following a Will Troutwine extra point.
Penalties and turnovers ended up plaguing E-G from here on out, however, as Royalton answered back with two second quarter touchdowns that were aided by excellent field position. Conrad and Dylan Skwira knocked the two scores in on nine- and 10-yard runs, respectively to put the Royals up 16-7 at the break.
It was all Royalton in the third quarter as they continued to put the pressure on Eveleth-Gilbert. On the second play from scrimmage in the half, Conrad broke through the Bears defense and put on the gas for a 65-yard score that put his squad up 2-0.
A punt on the ensuing Bears drive gave the Royals the ball back at their own 30 and they continued to chip away with their ground game trio of Conrad, Skwira and Block. The drive came to an end with just under four minutes to play in the quarter as Skwira picked up his second score of the game on a nine-yard touchdown run. Block ran in the two-point conversion and the Bears now trailed 30-7.
The next Bears drive was ended before it could even begin as the kickoff return was fumbled and then recovered by the Royals to put E-G back on the defensive. Their last drive of the third quarter extended into the fourth and with just over 11 minutes to play in the contest, Conrad ran in his third score of the game from three yards out to make it 36-7.
Eveleth-Gilbert did manage two more scores before the final horn would blow, with Beaudette going off to the races one last time on a 98-yard touchdown run that made it 36-13 Royalton.
On the final play of the game, Beaudette handed it off to freshman Jeffrey Thiel and he ran it 68 yards to the house to put the final score at 36-19.
Despite the loss, E-G head coach Derek Malner was all smiles after the game describing his team.
“They grew a lot this year,” Malner said. “We were just trying to tell them that we’re a family, this football team. We had fun, we grew. Ultimately, this game doesn’t matters. What matters is the people on this team, these players, these young guys.“
They’re very well managed, there’s lots of respect and trust among the ranks here. There’s no jerks on this team. We just wanted to express as a coaching staff that it was an honor to coach them and push them to continue working but even harder than what we had this year.”
On the game slipping away from the Bears in the second half, Malner said it was disappointing but his team still managed to pick themselves back up when things looked down.
“They had a big play in the second half and kind of got jump started from it. We had a moment where we could’ve put our tail between our legs but we overcame that moment and started stopping them late in the game. Then we had that nice 98-yarder from Nick and that’s a great way to go out and end your senior season.
“And Jeff Thiel, he’s just a freshman but he’s really a team favorite kind of guy. Came out when he didn’t think he was going to, came to practice every day and worked hard and we wanted to give him a chance. We gave a lot of guys a chance late in the game and everyone is smiling. There’s some tears but we’re a family at the end of the day.”
The win for Royalton moves their record to 4-5. The Royals will take on No. 1 Moose Lake/Willow River on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Moose Lake.
RHS 0 16 14 6 — 36
EGHS 7 0 0 12 — 19
E: Nick Beaudette 80 run (Will Troutwine kick)
R: Brady Conrad 9 run (Conrad run)
R: Dylan Skwira 10 run (Aaron Block run)
R: Conrad 65 run (run fail)
R: Skwira 9 run (Block run)
R: Conrad 3 run (kick fail)
E: Beaudette 98 run (run fail)
E: Jeffrey Thiel 71 run (time expired)