CUSHMAN CLASSIC: Short drives, big plays spark Riders
After finishing his junior season with two special teams returns for touchdowns, Austin Reynolds came up a few yards shy of his first touchdown return of the year Friday. The Grand Forks Red River senior took a punt and brought it back 73 yards o...
After finishing his junior season with two special teams returns for touchdowns, Austin Reynolds came up a few yards shy of his first touchdown return of the year Friday.
The Grand Forks Red River senior took a punt and brought it back 73 yards on the Roughriders’ opening possession, getting tackled at the 6-yard line.
“I should have had it,’’ Reynolds said. “I made a bad cut. If I don’t make that cut, I make it in.’’
Reynolds wasn’t to be denied the end zone, however. He was named offensive outstanding player for the Riders as they cruised past Grand Forks Central 41-6 in the Cushman Classic, which wrapped up the high school football regular season for both teams.
Reynolds’ big return set up a Derek Murph-to-Braedan Hanson touchdown pass on the Riders’ first offensive play from scrimmage. Reynolds got behind the Central secondary for a 45-yard reception and the Riders’ second touchdown, and added an 8-yard TD pass. The senior finished with seven catches, good for 116 yards.
“Austin gets the ball and he’s explosive,’’ Red River coach Vyrn Muir said. “He seemed to make about 1,500 cuts on that (punt) return. We call him the cutback king.
“He changed field position instantly. It was a momentum thing right away and, for the most part, we kept it the rest of the way.’’
Red River also kept field position most of the first half in pulling away to a 34-0 intermission advantage. The Riders scored touchdowns on five of their eight first-half possessions. All five scoring drives started inside Central territory. None took more than five plays to get into the end zone.
“You can’t give that short field against a good team like Red River,’’ Central coach Bill Lorenz said. “They’ll take advantage of it.
“Their playmakers made plays. That’s what it came down to. Reynolds is a special athlete when he gets the ball in the open field. And Murph is so efficient. He puts the ball on the money.’’
Murph, who has yet to complete less than 50 percent of his passes in a game this season, was 11-of-15 for 158 yards. He also hit Hanson with an 8-yard touchdown pass and rushed for a 1-yard touchdown.
“I feel like I have a good arm,’’ Murph said. “But I wouldn’t do nearly as well without those two receivers (Reynolds and Hanson). They’re really good.’’
Red River, which also got an 11-yard scoring run from Zach Ranisate, was opportunistic in getting short fields. One drive started when the Riders stopped Central on a fourth-down fake punt. A fumble recovery and an interception set up two other scoring drives.
“We want to create turnovers,’’ said Muir, whose team will play in the Class AAA state playoff quarterfinals next week. “That’s how you get field position. We feel we can make plays in those situations after turnovers.’’
Central got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter when Chancler Devier caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Cody Aarvig.
The win was the sixth straight in the Cushman Classic for the Roughriders. It also marked the third straight game and fourth in their last five in which they’ve scored 40 or more points.