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Eric Peterson, Published October 31 2010

Pistorius' big play vaults West Fargo to playoff football victory

An 81-yard Mandan pass play proved to be an important play for top-ranked West Fargo on Saturday.

Packers senior Jon Pistorius tracked down a Braves receiver from behind at the 1-yard line late in the third quarter that ultimately prevented a Mandan touchdown. That hustle play helped lift the Packers to a 24-15 home victory in the North Dakota Class 3A state football quarterfinals.

“It’s the playoffs now,” said Pistorius, who also added two interceptions. “You never give up on any play because anything can happen. I was just going to give it my all. I wasn’t going to give up.”

Winners of its last seven games, West Fargo (8-1) hosts Bismarck at 2 p.m. next Saturday in the state semifinals.

“That Mandan has a heck of a team,” Packers coach Jay Gibson said. “They have a good football team.”

Trailing 24-7 late in the third quarter, the Braves appeared on the verge of cutting into the lead. Mandan junior quarterback Devin Coyle found Jordan Zander up the sideline. Zander raced toward the end zone, but Pistorius, coming from across the field, caught Zander at the 1-yard line. The play covered 81 yards.

“That was huge, but you can’t pick out one play,” Mandan coach Pat O’Brien said. “Things happen. Kids make plays, kids don’t make plays. Give the West Fargo kid credit, he ran us down and didn’t let us get into the end zone.”

The importance of that Pistorius play multiplied when the Braves fumbled on the next play. That gave West Fargo the ball on its own 5 with 55 seconds to play in the third quarter.

“I think that kind of shows the character that our team has and it’s a different guy all the time,” Gibson said.

Mandan eventually cut into that 17-point lead. Coyle threw a swing pass to Seth Westby that turned into a 20-yard touchdown with 5 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. A successful two-point conversion trimmed the West Fargo lead to 24-15.

The Braves would get the ball back one more time, but Pistorius picked off Coyle at the West Fargo

3-yard line with 24 seconds to play, ending the Braves final threat.

Pistorius has a West Fargo school-record nine interceptions this season.

“He almost always changes the momentum of the game,” Packers quarterback Matt Ruff said of Pistorius. “He’s a great player and a teammate. … He’s pretty greedy out there when the ball is in the air.”

M 7 0 0 8–15

WF 0 24 0 0–24

MHS–Zinke 9 pass from Coyle (McDowall kick)

WF–Schwartz 29 pass from Ruff (Ballweber kick)

WF–Spacek 1 run (Ballweber kick)

WF–Null 6 run (Ballweber kick)

WF–Ballweber 30 FG

MHS–Westby 20 pass from Coyle (Westby pass from Coyle)


RUSHING: MHS, Binstock 21-72, Coyle 17-30, Westby 1-12. WF, Spacek 15-49, Null 5-30, Ruff 11-7, Team 1-(minus-1).

PASSING: MHS, Coyle 19-33-2 263 yards. WF, Ruff 15-25-1 202.

RECEIVING: MHS, Zander 5-126, Zinke 5-67, Janz 6-41, Westby 1-20, Sjomeling 1-8, Binstock 1-1. WF, Schwartz 8-115, Neer 5-68, Osmanski 1-10, Pistorius 1-9.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com