Eric Peterson, Published October 23 2012
Norman County East spoils Park Christian's first home playoff football game
The Norman County East sophomore made a diving tackle inside the 10-yard line to save a go-ahead Moorhead Park Christian touchdown.
That play helped NCE hold off the Falcons for a 14-12 victory in the first round of the Minnesota 9-man, Section 6 playoffs.
“All I was doing was hoping to God I could catch up to him,” said Thompson. “And when I did, it was probably the greatest feeling in the world.”
Park Christian (5-4) was hosting its first-ever home playoff game in its second year as a varsity program.
“I couldn’t be happier with how we did this season,” Falcons head coach Dan Kowalski said. “We’re very pleased with how the kids worked.”
The Eagles held a 14-12 lead in the third quarter when Thompson made his key play. The Falcons had the ball at their own 18-yard line. Junior QB Jared Olsgaard hit Matt Moberg in stride streaking down the sideline.
It looked like Moberg would be able to outrace Thompson to the end zone.
Thompson, however, lunged and tripped up Moberg at the 6 on a play that covered 76 yards.
“After he burned me, I was scared for my life pretty much,” Thompson said. “I somehow caught up to him. I don’t know how. That last dive was my last resort.”
That tackle turned out to be paramount, with Park Christian fumbling on its next play. NCE recovered the loose ball and took over at its own 14 with 3 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
“He never quit on it and then we got the big turnover after that,” NCE head coach Steve Ness said of Thompson. “By not quitting, it kept those points off the board.”
The Eagles raced to a two-touchdown lead in the first seven minutes. Senior running back Sawyer Stene scored on a 1-yard run and quarterback Zach Stene added a 41-yard TD pass to Jeremiah Stene.
Thompson staked NCE to a 14-0 lead with 5:40 to play in the first quarter with a successful 2-point conversion pass to Gabel Hoseth. That play came off a fake extra point and proved to be the game-winning points.
“That 2-point conversion was huge for us and our boys kept coming up and playing defense,” Ness said.
The Falcons would rally, even though starting senior quarterback Simeon Reiswig left the game in the second quarter due to injury and never returned. Starting offensive guard Daniel Lewis also got hurt in the second quarter and didn’t return.
Olsgaard was stellar in relief, completing 18 of 31 passes for 258 yards and two touchdowns. Both of his TD passes came in the second quarter: a 23-yarder to Moberg and a 19-yarder to Duncan Hannestad.
Hannestad’s TD catch cut the NCE lead to 14-12 with 2:35 to play in the second quarter.
“We knew Jared would be there as a great backup and he came in and performed,” Kowalski said. “I give a lot of credit to Jared. Coming in and coming in cold like that.”
Park Christian moved the ball to inside the NCE 20 with less than a minute to play in the fourth quarter. That drive stalled, so the Falcons tried a potential game-winning 37-yard field goal with 11 seconds to play. The Eagles blocked the kick to secure the win.
The Falcons had beaten the Eagles 30-6 during the regular season.
“We knew we were a better team than when we played before,” Thompson said. “We came out with a lot of fire and the momentum carried throughout the game.”
Moberg had a game-high 10 catches for 206 yards. Park Christian was held to minus-5 rushing yards on 18 attempts.
“I give credit to the kids,” Kowalski said. “We came back. We had our chances to win.”
NCE 14 0 0 0–14
PC 0 12 0 0–12
NCE–S. Stene 1 run (kick blocked)
NCE–J. Stene 41 pass from Z. Stene (G. Hoseth pass from Thompson)
PC–Moberg 23 pass from Olsgaard (kick blocked)
PC–Hannestad 19 pass from Olsgaard (run failed)
RUSHING: NCE, S. Stene 32-111, Z. Stene 14-88, Thompson 2-4, Korsgaden 1-(minus-1), Team 1-(minus-1). PC, Heinen 4-5, Tompkins 1-0, Olsgaard 9-(minus-5), Reiswig 4-(minus-5).
PASSING: NCE, Z. Stene 2-10-2 46 yards. PC, Reiswig 4-8-0 19, Olsgaard 18-31-1 258.
RECEIVING: NCE, J. Stene 1-41, G. Hoseth 1-5. PC, Moberg 10-206, Hannestad 5-37, Heinen 5-30, Nickel 1-5, Tompkins 1-2.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com