Chris Murphy, Published October 23 2012
Fergus Falls hangs on for first-round win against East Grand Forks
The Otters went up a step on the staircase Tuesday, escaping their final home game of the season with a 21-18 win over No. 6-seeded East Grand Forks in Minnesota Class 4A, Section 8 quarterfinals high school playoff action.
After two straight losses to close the regular season, Fergus Falls (6-3) was happy to be on the winning end of the final score.
“This is big to get on the positive side,” Fergus Falls coach Richard Risbrudt said. “It was hard to get traction tonight, but we’ve been relying on our offensive line and Walker (Heinen) carrying the ball all year, and we knew we had to keep doing what we do best.”
Fergus Falls did what it does best on Tuesday, rushing for 229 yards, 181 of which came from Heinen.
“We just had to go out there and grit it out,” Heinen said. “The offensive line did a good job of opening up holes. We get to play another day and we get to live another day.”
It was the defense, however, that gave the Otters momentum in the opening frame.
After Fergus Falls missed a 24-yard field goal on its first possession of the game, East Grand Forks (3-6) marched 70 yards on eight plays to the Otters’ 11-yard line. On a wide receiver screen attempt, Otters cornerback Dane Ringquist tipped the pass right into the arms of safety Reece Johnson. Johnson had nothing but green in front of him, scampering 89 yards for the touchdown to make it 7-0 Otters.
“Ringquist played it perfectly and tipped a perfect spiral to me, and it was like catching a punt and there was no one in front of me,” Johnson said. “It was huge momentum and it killed them. This win was just one step.”
With 3:46 left in the first half, East Grand Forks went 89 yards on 13 plays, including a 46-yard hook-and-ladder from Nick Erickson to Ryan Brown to Ryan Boushee to get on the scoreboard as time expired in the first half. On fourth down from Fergus Falls’ 2-yard line, Boushee walked into the end zone untouched on an option. The extra point was missed and the Otters took a 7-6 lead into the break.
Fergus Falls opened the second half with a seven-play, 55-yard touchdown drive, capped by a 5-yard run from quarterback Brady Hansen to put the Otters up 14-6.
“We didn’t mind playing this game because we wanted to get on a streak,” Hansen said. “You lose or you go home. We were hoping to win by more than three, but we got the win and it’s just great to be playing football still.”
East Grand Forks made it 14-12 on the ensuing drive when Ryan Boushee punched it in from two yards out on fourth down. The 2-point conversion was no good and the score remained 14-12. Fergus Falls would make it 21-12 when Drew Reinertson found the end zone from 3 yards out with 8:27 remaining in the game.
After an interception by Hansen got Fergus Falls the ball back with 5:59 left, the Otters fumbled the ball on their own 12-yard line with 4:31 left. One play later, Erickson found Ryan Brown in the end zone on a seven-yard slant to make it 21-18. The Green Wave missed the extra point and the score stayed 21-18 with 3:47 remaining.
Fergus Falls ran off the final 3:38 thanks to 41 yards rushing by Heinen and seven yards rushing by Hansen on eight carries in the final minutes.
Fergus Falls plays Rocori at 7 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals.
EGF 0 6 6 6–18
FF 7 0 7 7–21
F–Johnson interception return (Rausch kick)
EGF– Boushee 2 run (kick failed)
F–Hansen 5 run (Rausch kick)
EGF–Bouschee 1 run (pass failed)
F–Reinertson 3 run (Rausch kick)
EGF–Brown 7 pass from Erickson (kick failed)
RUSHING: EGF, Boushee 12-32, Erickson 26-113, Ausmus 1-1. F, Heinen 29-181, Aho 3-3, Reinertson 5-8, Hansen 9-37
PASSING: EGF, Erickson 4-12-2–107. F, Hansen 2-9-2–45
RECEIVING: EGF, Kallock 2-42, Boushee 2-65. F, Reinertson 2-45.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548