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PREP FOOTBALL: Stephen-Argyle wins section title

Stephen-Argyle players and coaches celebrate their 27-20 win over Kittson County Central Thursday at the Fargodome in the Minnesota Section 8 nine-man playoffs. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald1 / 3
Stephen-Argyle's Nathan Kott picks up a key first down as KCC defenders Gabe Vagle and Travis Rich pursue in the second half Thursday. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 3
KCC's Trent Peterson hauls in a touchdown in the second half as Stephen-Argyle's Brody Pietruszewski defends. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald3 / 3

FARGO -- Brody Pietruszewski was hoping to get a little end-of-the-game playing time.

Instead, he got the game-winning touchdown here Thursday.

Pietruszewski led the final scoring drive as Stephen-Argyle rallied to a 27-20 win against Kittson County Central in the championship game of the Minnesota Section 8 9-man football playoffs.

“I was very nervous,’’ said the junior, who had one pass attempt and nine rushing attempts all season entering the final. “But I did not want the season to end. Once I got out there, I was pretty calm.’’

Pietruszewski took over when starting quarterback Hunter Yutrzenka was injured in the third quarter.

The Bearcats entered the fourth quarter with a 20-19 lead. But Pietruszewski directed a 9-play, 57-yard drive for the winning points.

The key play was a short completion to Nathan Kotts on fourth-and-four. Kotts not only caught the ball on the sideline for the first down, but added 13 yards after the catch to the KCC 21.

James Pederson and Ashten Safranski followed with 10-yard runs. On first-and-goal, Pietruszewski went in on a quarterback sneak for a 25-20 lead with four minutes left, with Safranski running in the 2-point conversion.

“It was so emotional going in,’’ Pietruszewski said. “I told our center I was going in to his right. And I didn’t get touched.’’

Storm coach Ethan Marquis said Pietruszewski looked nervous when he entered the game. “But we knew his ability. He knew what he was doing,’’ Marquis said. “He just had to settle in.

“The pass to Kotts was a big breaker. It showed we could throw the ball. That loosened up the defense and opened up the running game. Brody isn’t a big guy. The guys up front did the power on his score.’’

Stephen-Argyle built a 19-7 halftime lead on a Kotts 8-yard touchdown run and Yutrzenka-to-Isaac Durand scoring passes covering 18 and 9 yards.

The Bearcats scored twice in the third quarter. Josh Rynning hit Trent Peterson for a 10-yard TD pass. On KCC’s next possession, Peterson got open behind the Storm secondary, hauled in a pass on the Stephen-Argyle 45 and ran in for a 76-yard TD and a 20-19 lead. Peterson also opened the game with an 87-yard kickoff return for a score.

“We made big plays. That’s what our offense has developed into,’’ KCC coach Cory Waling said.

After Stephen-Argyle went ahead in the fourth quarter, the Bearcats drove to the S-A 20-yard line. But the drive stalled on three straight incomplete passes.

“We had the play we wanted at the end,’’ Waling said. “But their defense made the play, knocking the pass down.’’

Rynning finished with 142 passing yards, all of them to Peterson, for the 6-5 Bearcats.

Stephen-Argyle takes an 11-0 record into next week’s state playoff quarterfinals.

Minn. Section 8 9-man

In Fargo, Thursday

Championship

Stephen-Argyle ,

Kittson Co. Central

KCC 7 0 13 0 --20

S-A 13 6 0 8 --27

KCC -- Trent Peterson 87 kickoff return (Travis Rich kick)

SA -- Nathan Kotts 8 run (Collin Neuschwander kick)

SA -- Isaac Durand 18 pass from Hunter Yutrzenka (kick failed)

SA -- Durand 13 pass from Yutrzenka  (pass failed)

KCC -- Peterson 10 pass from Josh Rynning (kick failed)

KCC -- Peterson 76 pass from Rynning (Maurice Sele kick)

SA -- Brody Pietruszewski 1 run (Ashten Safranski run)

Individual leaders

RUSHING -- KCC: Josh Rynning 13-50, Travis Rich 10-46, Daniel Gonzalez 9-20; S-A: Ashten Safranski 15-56, James Pederson 4-29, Nathan Kotts 10-26, Jason Lindgren 7-24

PASSING -- KCC: Rynning 4-13-1, 142 yards; S-A: Hunter Yutrzenka 3-4, 71 yards; Brody Pietruszewski 3-5, 43 yards

RECEIVING -- KCC: Trent Peterson 4-142; S-A: Kotts 2-58, Isaac Durand 3-38, Safranski 1-18