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Tom Mix, Published October 26 2012

Lehmann scores 3TDs as Packers top Minot

FARGO – Preston Lehman has flourished in his new role as West Fargo’s featured running back this fall.

The one-time blocking back is now dishing out hits with the ball in his hands, and opposing defenses have felt the pain.

Friday was the latest of Lehmann’s standout rushing efforts, and the 6-foot, 210-pound bruising back proved his success wasn’t limited to the regular season.

Lehmann scored three touchdowns in West Fargo’s 21-14 win over Minot in the North Dakota Class 3A state quarterfinals on Friday at the Fargodome.

“We got a lot of running backs that run the ball hard,” said Lehmann, who is committed to wrestle at North Dakota State. “That running game has been working for us the last four games.”

Lehmann totaled 173 yards on 23 carries. He now has 23 touchdowns this season after getting limited carries in the first two games. He moved to No. 3 all-time on West Fargo’s single-season scoring list with 118 points.

West Fargo (7-3) advances to play No. 1-ranked Bismarck in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Friday at the Community Bowl.

The Packers trailed 14-7 entering the fourth quarter, but scored in the first and last minute of the final 12 minutes of regulation to seal the victory.

The winning score was set up when Minot’s Cody Haugen muffed a punt return attempt with 1 minute, 17 seconds left in regulation. West Fargo’s Ben Bruenjes recovered the fumbled punt.

West Fargo drove the ball to the 2-yard line, where Lehmann ran in his third touchdown of the game.

“Any time you have a play going that way for you, it definitely gets the fire going,” Lehmann said of Minot’s turnover. “We were all excited after that, because we knew had them on their heels. We fed off that.”

The Magicians (7-3) had held the Packers to a three-and-out prior to the turnover and had plenty of time to get into the field-goal range for standout place kicker Ben Love. Love narrowly missed a 49-yard attempt in the first half.

West Fargo head coach Jay Gibson said he was fearful that would happen.

“Before the turnover, I was hoping they would not get close enough for their field-goal kicker to win the game,” Gibson said. “That was a tough mistake on their part, but at least we got it and shows me that our guys were in the game still.”

Brady Lampert rushed for 116 yards one touchdown on 22 carries to lead Minot.

“We made too many mistakes,” Minot head coach Barry Holmen said. “We had opportunities in the first half where we came up empty. I thought we responded well to missed opportunities and came out in the third quarter, marched it down and got ahead.

“We were not clean enough to win. We were close, but we’ll look back on this one as a missed opportunity.”

Lehmann’s biggest run was a 78-yard touchdown that came 20 seconds after Minot’s Alex Yanosko broke a scoreless tie on a four-yard TD run.

West Fargo’s Scott Cameron was 9 of 15 passing for 109 yards. The Packers have now won six straight games at the Fargodome.

“We came together as a team,” Lehman said. “I think it is the best we played as a team so far and I think we have a lot more in us.”

M 7 0 7 0–14

WF 7 0 0 14–21

M–Yanosko 4 run (Love kick)

WF–Lehmann 78 run (Duncan kick)

M–Lampert 7 run (Love kick)

WF–Lehmann 1 run (Duncan kick)

WF–Lehmann 2 run (Duncan kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: M, Yanosko 15-69, Benjamin 5-9, Lampert 22-116, Gorney 1-5. WF, Lehmann 23-173, Schulz 5-9, Hoy 1-(-2), Cameron 4-(-21).

PASSING: M, Yanosko 2-7-2–24, Holmen 0-1-0–0. WF, Cameron 9-15-0–109.

RECEIVING: M, Holmen 2-24. WF, Gunderson 3-29, Mattila 1-14, Heinen-Lugert 2-12, J. Heisler 3-57.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562