GRAND FORKS - Elliott Belquist let his team know he wasn't happy.
With New Rockford-Sheyenne trailing by eight points at halftime, the Rockets' football coach lit into his players about the lack of discipline and focus shown in the previous 24 minutes.
"I haven't seen him that mad since I started playing varsity football," senior fullback Josh Edmonson said. "We've never had to be chewed out at halftime all year. This is the only time he really came out and got mad."
New Rockford-Sheyenne players hold up the 9-man state championship trophy after beating Divide County on Friday in Grand Forks.
The Rockets responded by scoring 26 unanswered points and beating Divide County 40-22 Friday at the Alerus Center in the 9-man state championship game.
NR-S forced a punt on the Maroons' first possession after the break. The Rockets offense proceeded to drive down the field at will. Edmonson carried the ball seven times on the 10-play drive and finished it with a 5-yard touchdown run that cut Divide County's lead to 22-20.
"It kept our momentum going," senior running back Alex Perleberg said. "Well, got it going."
NR-S (12-0) and the Maroons traded a couple scoreless possessions until, with less than a minute left in the third quarter, the Rockets ran a halfback-toss play to Perleberg.
Perleberg took the pitch, got a couple of key blocks and sprinted 88 yards for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown.
"We ran a sweep," Edmonson said. "(Senior tight end) Chance (LaBrie) locked out that end, I hit that linebacker and busted it wide open. Alex just put on the jets, ran like he does."
Maroons junior tailback Isaac Jacobs ran for a 95-yard touchdown - a Dakota Bowl record - and returned a kick 76 yards for a score in the first quarter. But Jacobs left the game with an apparent chest injury in the second quarter and didn't return.
Without its top playmaker, Divide County (12-1) was forced to pass at the end of the first half. Maroons senior quarterback Lance Knudson completed 9-of-12 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown before halftime.
"We definitely had to make some changes at the half," Belquist said. "They were passing all over us. We felt good with our run defense, made some switches the second half. Our coaching staff did a great job. Kids made the plays."
Knudson was just 5-of-15 in the second half, and the Maroons never truly threatened to score. The Rockets outgained Divide County 238-100 after the break.
Perleberg's second touchdown run with 1:45 left put NR-S up 32-22 and sealed the game. Kyle Bossingham returned a Knudson pass 15 yards for a touchdown 12 seconds later.
Edmonson tallied a team-high 179 yards and scored twice. Perleberg added 168 yards on 14 carries and returned a kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown.