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Tom Mix, Published October 22 2013

Park Christian tops NCE-U-H in 9-man, Section 6 quarterfinals

MOORHEAD – Moorhead Park Christian didn’t have to wait too long for its first ever playoff victory as a Minnesota 9-man football program.

In just their third year, the Falcons earned the postseason milestone with an 18-0 win over Norman County East-Ulen-Hitterdal on Tuesday during the 9-man, Section 6 quarterfinals at Park Christian High School.

“We have been itching for this win for a few years,” Park Christian senior quarterback Jared Olsgaard said. “We finally got it, and hopefully we can continue to play well into the next round.”

The Falcons advance to play the winner of Ada-Borup and Rothsay on Saturday in the semifinals.

Field conditions were wet and muddy, which limited both teams’ running games to minimal gains.

The difference was the No. 4-seeded Falcons (5-4) were able to get their passing game working.

Olsgaard was 16 of 25 passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns.

The No. 5-seeded Titans (3-6) were unable to match the Falcons’ success through the air and were held to 105 yards of total offense.

NCE-U-H and Park Christian met for the second time in six days. The Falcons defeated the Titans 41-27 on Thursday at the Fargodome in the regular season finale.

“Beating a team twice in a row is tough to do,” Park Christian head coach Dan Kowalski said. “Our kids played to the whistle on every play and I’m so proud of them.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Park Christian senior wide receiver Matt Moberg got the Falcons on the scoreboard, returning a punt 82 yards for a touchdown with nine minutes, 43 second left in the first half.

Moberg entered the game with two special teams return touchdowns this fall – one off a punt and one off a kickoff.

Moberg’s return started with having to pick up the ball in a pool of mud.

“All my returns for touchdowns have hit the ground this year,” Moberg said. “I just picked it up and thought if I got to the outside where the field was a little nicer, I could make a run down the sideline.”

Earlier in the first half, Moberg intercepted NCE-U-H’s Zach Stene on the opening play of a Titans drive that started on the Falcons’ 20-yard line following a blocked punt.

“Any type of scores were going to be big in this game, and the punt return from Matt Moberg was huge,” Kowalski said. “That really got the ball rolling for us.”

Moberg caught six passes for 78 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter.

Senior wide receiver Duncan Hannestad led the Falcons in receiving catching six passes for 87 yards.

Olsgaard connected with junior receiver Gage Stromme for a 20-yard touchdown with 6:24 left in the first half.

“We knew we were going to have poor field conditions so we worked our receivers to the outside more and were able to convert on a lot of short passes,” Kowalski said. “We were happy to get the bigger pass plays too.”

NCE-U-H 0 0 0 0–0

Park Christian 0 12 6 0–18

PC–Moberg 82 punt return (pass failed)

PC–Stromme 20 pass from Olsgaard (pass failed)

PC–Moberg 34 pass from Olsgaard (run failed)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: NCE-U-H, J. Stene 4-10, Busby 4-10, Thompson 16-41, Z. Stene 7-(-25), Lee 6-16, Gwin 6-17. PC, Stenerson 2-0, Olsgaard 8-16, Heinen 4-5 Moberg 1-1.

PASSING: NCE-U-H, Z. Stene 5-12-1–36, Thompson 0-1-0–0. PC, Olsgaard 16-25-0–197.

RECEIVING: NCE-U-H, Thompson 2-35, Busby 1-2, Lee 2-(-1). PC, Stenerson 1-12, Militzer 1-0, Hannestad 6-87, Moberg 6-78, Stromme 1-20.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562