FARGO - It is how well a football team finishes in the postseason that often decides whether it fails or succeeds.
Fargo Shanley put together a strong finish after a sluggish opening quarter in a 46-20 win over Rugby on Saturday during the North Dakota Class AA state quarterfinals at Sid Cichy Stadium.
West Region No. 4-seeded Rugby outscored the top-ranked Deacons 14-0 in the first quarter. Shanley recovered to score the next 40 points of the game to clinch the win.
Fargo Shanley’s Peter Simon is tackled by Rugby’s Nigel Hageness during their game Saturday in Fargo. Photo courtesy of Michael Vosburg of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.
"We probably needed that start to wake us up a little bit and realize it was the playoffs," Shanley junior quarterback Chase Montplaisir said. "After we realized that, we got rolling. The snow started coming, but I thought we responded well and Danny (Stasch) had a big game."
Stasch totaled 126 yards on 22 carries and scored five touchdowns for the Deacons (8-2). Shanley hosts West Region No. 2 Beulah at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the semifinals.
Rugby jumped out to its early lead when sophomore quarterback Bradley Heidlebaugh connected with Chris Hamilton for a 24-yard touchdown on its first drive. The Panthers' second drive ended with Heidlebaugh throwing a 40-yard touchdown strike to Kyle Lovcik.
Heidlebaugh was 8-of-17 passing for 135 yards and completed his first six passes.
"We finished pretty well," Fargo Shanley head coach Rod Oksendahl said. "We didn't start very well Our kids hung in there and persevered through the 14-0 first quarter. We outscored them 46-6 after that. They could have folded the tent there, but they didn't."
The Panthers finish the season 5-5. After Rugby dominated the first quarter, costly mistakes started to pile up.
On its third drive, the Panthers had a punt attempt blocked, giving Shanley the ball in the red zone. The Deacons cashed in with a one-yard touchdown by Stasch six plays later.
Rugby had four more drives in the first half, which resulted in three punts and interception.
"We got a little momentum at the beginning," Rugby head coach Scott Grochow said. "We had the blocked punt and a couple things go against us. Our youth started to show through and then they got the momentum. They are a good team. We just couldn't get the momentum back."
Montplaisir finished 12-of-21 passing for 229 yards and two touchdowns, including one for 51 yards to Kelvin Caga.