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Ada-Borup/West takes advantage of Polk County West turnovers for Minnesota Section 8A win

Now 5-0 on the year, the Cougars officially hold the first place distinction in Section 8A and are in prime position to take the first seed come postseason time. The Thunder, 4-1, still sit in second place.

100221 S GFH PCWFB OliverKritzberger01.jpg
Ada-Borup/West's Oliver Kritzberger (29) dives to recover a Polk County West fumble in the second quarter of a football game in East Grand Forks on Friday, October 1, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

With rain falling consistently at East Grand Forks Senior High Field, Polk County West saw the football slipping and sliding in the backfield in its 12-7 loss to Ada-Borup/West on Friday night.

In a matchup that held quite a lot of hype heading into the game, the Thunder opened the game by fumbling the ball in four of the six drives they had in the first half. Two of those turnovers came on balls slipping through fingers on a poor snap and reverse pitch.

“We just didn’t take care of the football,” Polk County West coach Darrin Byklum said. “It’s the same (conditions) for both teams. We’ve played in the rain before. When you go -4 on turnovers against a good team you’re probably not going to come out on top.”

Sam Gapp was the Thunder player who fumbled on the first drive, but he still managed to put together a strong half, picking up 75 yards on seven carries. The majority came on a 50-yard run on the third drive that was immediately followed by a fumble from Isaac Zavoral on the next play.

Gapp, who came in as the section's leading rusher, went head-to-head with Beau Fetting who has been hot on his tail the entire year.

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“They were all ready to go. You get a turnover here or there and the mojo goes in the other direction, but there were no nerves,” said Byklum.

It was Fetting breaking free with the first explosive run of the night. After the Zavoral fumble gave the Cougars the ball at the Thunder 40-yard line, Fetting ripped off a 24-yard run followed up by a five-yard touchdown run, putting them up 6-0.

Then it was Oliver Kritzberger pushing the Thunder defense back from the backfield. A couple of rushes and a 20-yard reception from Lance Kritzberger brought the Cougars all the way to the 1-yard line, where quarterback Aiden Marcussen carried one to double the lead. It would be the last time Ada-Borup/West would reach the scoreboard.

“The defense played well tonight. They were on the field most of the night and played well,” Byklum said. “We talked about it after, if we don’t turn the ball over it is probably a different ball game.”

Hoping to be a sign of a change of fortune, Gapp collided with Fetting on Ada-Borup/West's opening drive of the second half, and this time it was Fetting losing the ball.

Their ensuing drive would not go anywhere and their next drive was about to do the same, until Gapp went 47 yards on 4th-and-short for the only Thunder touchdown. Now trailing by five and carrying some momentum, Polk County West needed to make sure Fetting didn’t have an answer of his own.

“We got a great run there from Sam and then we’re building up another great drive and unfortunately it went the other way again. That was the story tonight. If you don’t get any flow on offense it’s hard to score points,” Byklum said.

Entering the fourth quarter, Gapp already had 159 yards on the ground. Now, looking to take the lead, each rush captured more and more momentum as they picked up two first downs and crossed midfield.

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Then, the fifth Thunder fumble came when Zavoral lost an inside handoff to Mike Gapp.

To answer, the defense fought off a long drive but managed to keep the Cougars out of the end zone and off the scoreboard, getting a turnover on downs. With 3:30 left in the game, the offense came out to win the game.

An early third down was overcome with a trick play and an 18-yard Zavoral reception. Next, Gapp moved the chains on a 12-yard run. Then, with only 1:17 left on the clock, a deep try by Zavoral was intercepted trying to connect with Cullen Rohrich.

One more Fetting first down would seal the deal and give Ada-Borup/West the 12-7 win.

Now 5-0 on the year, the Cougars officially hold the first place distinction in Section 8A and are in prime position to take the first seed come postseason time. The Thunder, 4-1, still sit in second place.

“We’ll regroup. We’ll get after it and hopefully, we’ll see them again,” said Byklum.

At the end of the night, the Gapp and Fetting battle lived up to expectations on the stat sheet. Fetting, along with the win, compiled 122 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries and Gapp showed off his capabilities with 171 yards and a touchdown, as well.

The Thunder now move on to Lake Park Audubon next week.

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Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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