The Devils Lake High School football team played its final home game of the year Friday night, losing to Grand Forks Red River 28-14.

The Devils Lake High School football team played its final home game of the year Friday night, losing to Grand Forks Red River 28-14.

The Firebirds got on the board first on a 15 yard touchdown pass from Jake Mertens to Zach Dahlen with 5:02 left in the first. The reliable duo has accounted for the lion’s share of DL’s points this year, but the defense held its own against the Roughriders, keeping Red River off the scoreboard in the first quarter.

The lead wouldn’t last, as Roughriders running back Joey Schindler rushed for a touchdown after the Firebirds gave up a long pass play early in the second quarter.

That would be the theme of the game the rest of the way. The Roughriders used their run game to great effect, challenging the Firebirds to get them off the field. DL held tight for much of the second quarter, forcing two turnovers.

After failing to get much momentum going after their first quarter touchdown, the Firebirds started to get the offense going late in the second quarter. A 15-yard gain on a Mertens quarterback keeper allowed DL to convert on third and 15, then a deep throw to Dahlen put the Firebirds into Red River territory.

What appeared to be a huge play for DL on a long run by Mertens near the end of the first half was negated on a holding penalty, shutting the drive down. The half ended with the Firebirds trailing 14-7.

Head coach Jake Wateland was frustrated by some of the key penalties that set the Firebirds back.

“We know what to do, we just have to make sure we’re taking care of penalties and doing our jobs,” Wateland said. “It’s a lack of focus.”

The defense held its own again in the third quarter, keeping the Roughriders out of the end zone. Unfortunately, a fumble by Dahlen deep in Firebirds territory gave Red River a scoring opportunity that they would cash in on to begin the fourth quarter, pushing their lead to 21-7.

The Roughriders pulled away further mid-fourth quarter as the Firebirds had trouble getting their run game established, taking a 28-7 lead on a 19-yard touchdown pass.

The Firebirds attempted to battle back, but a long drive kept the ball out of DL’s hands until a minute left in the game. Another keeper by Mertens made the game 28-14 and ended the scoring. The loss dropped the Firebirds to 2-6.

The season ends next week at West Fargo. It will be a tough test for the Firebirds, as the Packers are 8-0 and have stomped through their schedule.

Wateland says his team will be prepared for the daunting task of taking on the undefeated Packers.

“We’re going to prepare our butts off. We have a great group, I’m proud of our seniors. These guys work hard every day, they’ve given everything our program has asked for,” Wateland said. “I know they’re going to show up next week and give them our best shot.”