CROSBY - It was clear as Divide County and North Star traded points on Saturday that somebody had to deliver a knockout punch.
And with the Bearcats facing fourth-and-7 in double overtime, Maroons sophomore Jarret Obenchain dished out the fatal blow.
Obenchain attacked North Star quarterback Jacob Hagler's blindside on a blitz, whacked the senior playcaller and forced a fumble that was recovered by Divide County senior defensive back Bennett Lystad. Two plays later, Maroons quarterback Lance Knudson scored from six yards out to cement Divide County's 36-30 win in the 9-man state quarterfinals.
Divide County quarterback Lance Knudson runs with the ball during Divide County’s 9-man quarterfinal win against North Star Saturday in Crosby.
"That was the best," Knudson said. "I haven't had a win in football as fun as that one ever."
It was a similar game with an opposite outcome to last year's semifinal, when North Star (8-2) outlasted the Maroons 32-28 in Cando.
When one team scored, the other responded in short order throughout regulation. But North Star missed out on a couple chances to take leads when Hagler made uncharacteristic mistakes.
Hagler entered the game with just three interceptions for the season, but threw a pick to Lystad with his team driving in the first half. In the fourth quarter, Hagler threw another interception to Lystad, this time at the Maroons' 2-yard-line. On both plays Hagler was trying to find his favorite target, senior wide receiver Daniel Grande. Grande finished with nine catches and 86 yards.
"Bennett, he's great," Knudson said. "He did a great job covering the best wide receiver in the state. He held him in control for the most part."
Two plays after the turnover, Jacobs sprinted the left side before finding his opening and going 96 yards for a score.
"I was just thinking, 'We better not get a safety and have that lose us the game,' " Jacobs said. "I would've been mad if that would've happened. I was just thinking give it everything you got. Keep on going."
Knudson threw two interceptions and didn't complete a pass, but Divide County (11-0) didn't need a passing offense to move the ball. Knudson and Jacobs combined for 443 yards and five touchdowns on 65 carries.
"Every team we've played this year has known it's coming," Maroons co-coach Nate Nelson said. "It's hard to stop because we've got a good set of offensive linemen . ... They did a tremendous job today."
North Star matched Divide County's touchdown and two-point conversion in the first overtime. The Bearcats got the ball first in the second extra session but moved the ball just three yards before Obenchain's sack.
"We just didn't execute on a couple of plays," Bearcats coach Bryan Haugen said.
Divide County hosts TGU in the semifinals Saturday at 2 p.m.