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Ryan Holmgren / Minot Daily News, Published November 08 2013

Defensive stands propel Huskies to North Dakota Class 2A football win

MINOT, N.D. – Surrounded by downcast faces and watery eyes, Minot Ryan head coach Brad Borkhuis stood on the goal line of the west end zone at Herb Parker Stadium.

For a moment, his left foot held firm on the red paint of that elusive 4,800-square-foot rectangle with his right foot planted on the green FieldTurf, straddling the white goal line that betrayed the top-ranked Lions three times Friday night in a 24-17 loss to Wahpeton during the semifinals of the North Dakota Class 2A state football playoffs.

His final postgame speech of the season lasted longer than usual.

But there wasn’t much to say.

“On the field they battled, like a band of brothers, they battled,” Borkhuis said in a soft, heartbroken whisper. “I’m extremely proud of them for that.”

Three defensive stands put the Huskies (10-1) in the Dakota Bowl for the first time since 1998 and sent Ryan (10-1) packing.

The third and final stand came as the clock ticked under four minutes to play.

With Wahpeton leading 24-14 – the first two-possession deficit the Lions faced all year – the Huskies barricaded Ryan senior quarterback Austin Eggl from the end zone on first-and-goal from the 10, second-and-goal from the 5 and third-and-goal from the 2.

“Wahpeton had a great scheme. Props to them,” Ryan senior lineman Mason Kramer said. “They blitzed us, beat us up front on those drives. We just couldn’t do anything about it.”

Ryan settled for a field goal, used two timeouts and forced a punt. The Lions drove 29 yards to the Huskies’ 26-yard line with 1:20 left, but Eggl’s pass on fourth-and-9 fell off the mark, and their promising season elapsed as Wahpeton ran out the clock.

The first stand, which came in the final minute of the first half with Ryan ahead 14-8, gave the Huskies new life.

Ryan senior Nick Berentson picked off Wahpeton quarterback Jack Christensen – the senior signal-caller’s second interception and third turnover of the opening half – and returned it 35 yards inside the red zone.

Two plays later, Eggl lost a yard on a botched snap on first-and-goal from the 7. Senior running back Braden Kalamaha ran for 5 yards on second down. Wahpeton stuffed Eggl at the goal line on third and fourth down – the latter, a rushed play coming 9 seconds before halftime.

“The one before half, I mismanaged a timeout,” Borkhuis said. “It’s frustrating to make those mistakes.”

With Ryan set to receive the ball to open the third quarter, Wahpeton coach Brian Dokken said the Huskies dodged a major bullet.

“It was one of those things where we made a mistake on offense and the guys just came back and made up for it on defense,” the fourth-year coach said. “It was huge for us to go into half down one score. We go into half down two (scores), we’re in a huge hole.”

W 0 8 16 0–24

MR 0 14 0 3–17

MR–Berentson 34 pass from Bosch (Demchuk kick)

W–Christensen 1 run (Christenson run)

MR–Eggl 1 run (Demchuk kick)

W–Christensen 1 run (Wixo run)

W–Lingen 4 run (Christensen run)

MR–Demchuk 19 FG

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: W, Lingen 19-125, Christensen 15-28, Erickson 1-5, Wixo 3-5, Zarak 2-25. MR, Eggl 28-153, Kalamaha 10-27, Backes 5-24, Berentson 4-18.

PASSING: W, Christensen 6-11-2 44 yards. MR, Eggl 10-29-1 102, Bosch 2-2-0 61.

RECEIVING: W, Irwin 2-19, Zarak 1-13, Lingen 2-9, Poppen 1-3. MR, Berentson 7-104, Magnuson 3-35, Will 2-29.