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Mayo rallies for season-opening win against Farmington (slide show)

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Mayo running back Loren Lorang fight for yardage Friday night when the Spartans hosted Farmington in the football opener.

The first 20 minutes of Friday's season-opening high school football game were worse than a bad dream for Rochester Mayo.

When the Spartans finally awoke, they were down by three touchdowns, but they were not out of the game.

Behind a gritty offensive line, senior quarterback Nate Penz passed for 267 yards and a late-first half touchdown that gave Mayo some momentum. Sophomore running back Loren Lorang, in his first varsity game, ran for 120 yards and three touchdowns as Mayo rallied from 21 points down for a 35-28 non-conference victory.

"A lot of us (on the line) have played together since we were in sixth grade," senior left guard and team captain Justin Carr said. "We know how to play together and try to work our hardest, not only in games, but in practices, too."

Farmington, which won just one game a year ago, stunned Mayo early. Quarterback Darren Beenken connected with Jake Baskerville on a 39-yard touchdown pass, and hit Nathan Graham on scoring strikes of 12 and 91 yards. The 12-yarder came after Mayo fumbled a punt and the 91-yarder came on a third-and-21 play with 7:46 to go in the second quarter and made the score 21-0.

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"We had a couple of breakdowns defensively in the first half and combined with special teams play, we spotted them 21 points," Mayo coach Kevin Landherr said. "Offensively, we were misfiring a little bit. We got in some second- and third-and-long situations that we couldn't get out of."

Mayo flipped the momentum, though, with a quick-strike, seven-play drive that lasted just 1:42 and ended with a 5-yard touchdown run by Penz with just 50 seconds to go in the first half. He hit his favorite target, Zac Rhodes, three times for 51 yards on the drive. Rhodes finished with nine catches for 94 yards.

That was the first of touchdowns on four consecutive drives for Mayo. The Spartans scored the first three times they had the ball in the second half — runs of nine and two yards by Lorang, and a five-yard TD pass from Penz to Alec Elseth.

Lorang, listed at 5-feet-10 and 200 pounds, showed the poise and patience of a veteran, letting the linemen set up their blocks before making his cuts. He finished with 120 yards on 25 carries. He accounted for 79 of his yards and three touchdowns in the second half.

"The line did a really good job. They opened up some holes and gave me time," he said, noting that the adjustment to the varsity level after playing on the freshman team last season is a big one. "It's a huge difference, the size of the guys and the speed of the game."

Lorang scored on a 1-yard plunge with 1:19 to go, but Farmington came back down the field and pulled within a touchdown with 33.7 seconds to go on a seven-yard pass from Beenken to Austin Bassett.

Carr said he was impressed with Lorang's play.

"He did really well," Carr said. "He surprised everybody, for a sophomore in his first game. He was really patient, his head was in the game, and he surprised me. As a sophomore, he was stepping up and getting everybody else pumped up."

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Mayo opens Big Nine Conference play next Friday at rival Rochester Century at 7 p.m.

"The positive is, we'll continue to clean things up as we go forward," Landherr said. "We have to start fast and play four quarters of good football. I'm proud of the way we fought back and got stronger as the game went on."

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