Crossing over River Red
The Minot High School football team proved Friday night why they are the No. 1 seed out of the West Region with a 43-7 landslide victory over Grand Forks Red River in the quarterfinals of the Class AAA state playoffs.
The Magicians (8-2) relied on their multiple running back offense to rack up over 300 yards and collect six touchdowns. A majority of the scoring plays came on runs bounced to the outside.
“We have some weapons certainly,” MHS coach Barry Holmen said. “Honestly, we have to run the ball inside and outside. We are going to watch the film and maybe find out that we shouldn’t bounce out so many things. Things kind of spilled out tonight, but it might be the case that we have to keep it inside a little bit more.”
The speed of senior MHS running back Manuel Bradford was too much for the Roughriders (4-6).
“That No. 13 kid (Bradford), we saw it on film, but he is tough to tackle,” GFRR coach Vyrn Muir said. “Minot is more physical than we are, but our kids hung in there. Yeah, I wish we could have played better But the better team won tonight.”
Consecutive turnover on downs in Minot territory for GFRR allowed the Magi to jump out to an early 14-0 lead. Bradford carried in both touchdowns, 19 and 53 yards out, by getting to the edge and running past everybody.
Bradford finished with 194 yards on 15 carries and the two touchdowns.
Red River pushed the ball to the MHS 18-yard line on its third possession, but a fumble by a GFRR wide receiver allowed Minot’s Carter Anderson to pick up the ball and return it back into GFRR territory.
With a fourth and goal on the 1-yard line, MHS senior running back Elijah Wickum punched in the Magi’s third rushing touchdown of the first half.
After moving the ball effectively on their first three drives and not converting, the Roughriders were forced to boot the first punt of the game on their fourth possession following a three-and-out.
“I think the thing that we got to take away is that when we got opportunities to make plays, we got to make them,” Muir said. “This kind of what we didn’t do this year when it came down to crunch time.”
Minot had everything going its way. A long third down was picked up after quarterback Creighton Rudolph bobbled the snap, threw off balance and found Noah Tate for a 20-yard completion. Wickum capped Minot’s fourth possession with his second rushing touchdown from five yards out, 28-0.
The Roughriders needed to convert a fake punt to get their first and only points on the board the 21-yard run from Brandon Solberg on that play was the longest rushing play for GFRR. On the ensuing play, senior quarterback Parker Wenzel connected on a 37-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Austin Slaughter, 28-7.
Wenzel completed 13 passes for 186 yards, and Slaughter brought in 98 yards on five catches.
The Magi ran out the rest of the clock in the first half to go to halftime up 21 points.
A successful wide receiver screen to MHS junior Peyton Lamoureux on a fourth down allowed Minot to eventually extend its lead halfway through the third quarter. Wickum powered in another 5-yard touchdown, kicker Preston Johnson converted on his fifth straight extra point to put Minot up 35-7 with 4:19 left in the third quarter.
Wickum finished with 78 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns.
With the clock running down in the fourth quarter, MHS junior running back Dylan Danielson bounced to the outside and went 32 yards for the Magi’s sixth rushing touchdown. Junior Brett Davis ran in the two-point conversion, 43-7.
Despite the running clock victory, Holmen saw areas in which his team still needs to improve on heading into the semifinals.
“I pleased with a lot of the game,” he said. “But, truly too many penalties and mistakes. We got away with them tonight. We got a nice early lead and that helped us. But if we play with that many mistakes next week, then that is going to come back and jump us.”
The Magi advance to play Bismarck High. The Demons dealt Minot its only home loss of the season, 14-7, on Oct. 7.
Alex Eisen covers Minot High School, Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.