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After winless 2017, Red River opens season with win over Bismarck Legacy

BISMARCK – Consider it forgotten.

Grand Forks Red River came to Bismarck with the weight of a winless 2017 football season on its shoulders. That’s ancient history after the Roughriders’ season-opening 16-13 win over Bismarck Legacy.

Junior quarterback Parker Monette ran for one touchdown and threw for another as the Riders piled up 303 yards of total offense and came up with a big defensive stand late in the game.

“I just told the guys we did a lot of good things and a lot of bad things,” Red River coach Vyrn Muir said. “We just did a lot of bad at the end. But the big thing was we fought through the bad and made something good happen.”

Monette completed 14 of 26 passes for 213 yards. His 4-yarder to Brady Dvorak proved to be the game winner. But it was several plays on both sides of the ball by senior Brett Klefstad that was instrumental in putting the losing streak to bed.

Klefstad had three clutch catches for 83 yards, including a 30-yard reception on third down that led to the final score. Another was for 36 yards and a 17-yard for a big first down as the Riders were trying to run out the clock.

But his biggest contributions were two and a half sacks on Legacy’s final possession and three and a half overall.

“We know Brett to be a really good football player,” Muir said. “We don’t know if Brett knows he’s a really good player. He can make things happen.”

“I just went out there and did (my job),” Klefstad said. “I knew they were going to throw.”

Red River took advantage of two Legacy miscues to grab an early 2-0 lead. Facing third-and-2 from the 12, a botched exchange led to a 10-yard loss. That was followed by a bad snap through the end zone on a punt with 5:30 left in the first quarter.

Two possessions later, Parker Monette capped a six-play, 45-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run. Jackson Feller’s PAT made it 9-0 with 11:56 to play in the half. Monette was 3-for-3 passing on the drive.

Red River threatened again but came up short on fourth down, leading to Legacy’s 86-yard scoring drive that got the Sabres back in the game.

Backup tailback Ben Marowf was the key to the drive, running eight times for 35 yards. Marowf came on after starting tailback Diamonte Stugelmeyer limped off in the first quarter.

Legacy quarterback Rhett Clements capped the march, which started on the Sabres’ 14 after a fumble, with a 14-yard run straight up the middle out of the pistol formation. The two-point conversion failed with 1:53 left in the half.

The Riders came right back, however, moving the ball down to the Legacy 28 before the drive stalled again. Red River had its way in the first half but couldn’t finish drives. It had marches end at Legacy’s 4-, 19-, 14- and 34-yard lines. The Riders outgained Legacy 217-79 in total yards in the first half.

Red River began the second half with a defensive stop, then marched 56 yards for a score. Monette hit Brady Dvorak with a 4-yard TD pass with 2:27 left in the third quarter.

Legacy returned the favor early in the fourth quarter. After punter Blake Hansted pinned the Riders on their own 1, the Sabres defense held and forced a 29-yard punt. Four plays later, they scored.

On fourth-and-1, Clements dived into the line to try to gain a first down. Then he broke away for a 28-yard TD run and TJ Seidel’s PAT made it 16-13 with 9:58 left.

The Sabres’ best chance to tie the game came on fourth-and-17 – three plays after a Klefstad sack. Seidel’s 45-yard field goal attempt into the wind came up just short.

“What happened tonight shouldn’t be new to our kids because they’ve been through this,” Muir said. “They know what a varsity game should be like. They played all the way to the end tonight.”

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