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Chris Murphy, Published October 20 2012

Second-half surge propels Wyndmere-Lidgerwood to playoff win

WYNDMERE, N.D. – According to Wyndmere-Lidgerwood coach Scott Strenge, there weren’t many quotable things from the Warbirds coaches’ halftime speeches to their top-ranked squad when it was tied 0-0 with Hillsboro-Central Valley in North Dakota 9-man first-round playoff action Saturday.

“Probably not,” Strenge said when asked if anything from his halftime speech could go on the record. “We had a heart-to-heart at half. They were beating us to every punch.”

Whatever was said worked, as W-L scored 27 second-half points to knock off H-CV 27-0.

“Our offensive line played much better in the second half,” Strenge said. “If you give our backs a crease, they are going to make you pay. In the second half, we played with a little more fire on the line.”

Luis Vasquez and Jeff Illies were the two backs that made H-CV pay. On the second play from scrimmage in the second half, Vasquez broke three tackles en route to a 49-yard gain. Two plays later, Vasquez was running into the end zone from 4 yards out to cap a four-play, 62-yard drive that took 1 minute, 38 seconds.

The drive accounted for more yards than the Warbirds had in the entire first half (30 yards of total offense).

“We weren’t playing like we should in the first half,” Vasquez said. “Nobody was blocking, no one was hitting their holes and they came out to play and we didn’t. I told them that this wasn’t going to be my last game. We came out guns blazing in the second half.”

W-L (9-1) did not cease fire. After a three-and-out on the ensuing drive by H-CV (5-4), Illies ran for a 38-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to make it 12-0. Vasquez added the 2-point conversion run and it was 14-0 Warbirds with eight minutes remaining in the third.

“We just had to run the ball because that’s what playoff football is about,” Illies said. “Our line and backs weren’t hitting our holes and we just had to play our game. Our coaches got us all jacked up at half. We knew we were stronger than them up front and we just needed to play our game. It was all mental.”

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Vasquez found the end zone again on a 4-yard run to make it 20-0. On the third play of the ensuing W-L drive, Illies scampered for a 48-yard touchdown run and Cameron Frank booted the extra point to make it a four-score game at 27-0 with 8:09 remaining in the game.

With 3:51 left in the first half, Burros starting quarterback Brendan Dufner went down with a right knee injury and never returned. The Burros outgained the Warbirds 27-3 in passing and 60-37 in rushing yards in the first half, but only had three first downs in the second half.

“When you lose your main guy at quarterback, it’s tough to overcome, but our guys still put out the effort and it shows a lot,” H-CV coach Scott Olsen said. “I’m sure we’ll be thinking what ifs the rest of the year, but it is what it is. Injuries are part of the game.”

W-L hopes its next game does not require any special halftime speeches when the Warbirds host a second-round game on Saturday.

“You can’t play one half in any of the phases,” Strenge said. “You have to play all four quarters.”

H-CV 0 0 0 0–0

W-L 0 0 14 13–27

W-Vasquez 4 run (run no good)

W-Illies 38 run (Vasquez run)

W-Vasquez 4 run (run no good)

W-Illies 48 run (Frank kick)


PASSING: H, Dufner 2-5-1 27 yards, Proznik 0-2-0, Preston 1-4-0 9 yards. W, Harles, 6-14-0 48 yards.

RUSHING: H, Bowen 8-13, Dufner 3-4, Stallman 14-37, Schildberger 3-4, Bolstad 14-30, Preston 11-15, Forseth 1-3. W, Vasquez 14-84, Illies 10-127, Frank 3-13, Harles 1-1, Honl 1-8, Jorgenson 1-0.

RECEIVING H, Proznik 3-36. W, Vasquez 1-2, Clark 3-20, L. Illies 1- (-3), Frank 1-29.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548