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Run game powers PCW past Fertile-Beltrami

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PCW's Sam Gapp finds room to run against Fertile-Beltrami Friday in East Grand Forks. At left is Evan Sczepanski. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 4
PCW quarterback Sam Modeen looks to hand off the ball in the first half against Fertile-Beltrami Friday in East Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald3 / 4
Fertile-Beltrami's Dylan Pearce catches a touchdown pass as Polk County West's John Fontaine defends in the first half of their game Friday in East Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald4 / 4

The running game for Polk County West has been inconsistent this high school football season.

On Friday, however, the Thunder offensive linemen took over the game in the second half. Polk County West capped two long, clock-eating drives with touchdowns, rallying past visiting Fertile-Beltrami 21-8.

"Our offense has sputtered at times,'' PCW coach Darrin Byklum said. "The first half was a lot of the same old news for us. But in the second half, we sustained drives.

"Tonight, the boys up front got it done. It was just power football running the ball. That was, by far, the best our line has played all year.''

Behind the line of center Grant Sullivan, guards James Fontaine and Will Rohrich, tackles Eric Mykleseth and Myles Smith ant tight end Trea Byklum, PCW had 162 yards in the second half, all but 14 of those on the ground.

Fertile-Beltrami opened the second half with a drive to the PCW 30 before losing a fumble. The Thunder took over on their own 16-yard line and put together a 15-play, 84-yard drive. Will White capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run and John Fontaine's 2-point conversion run gave PCW a 14-8 lead.

The drive was sustained when Trea Byklum recovered a fumble for a first down on the F-B 44. Long runs by Josh Wagner (18 yards) and John Fontaine (16 yards) set up White's score. "We got some luck,'' Darrin Byklum said. "Trea was in the right place at the right time.''

After the Falcons were forced to punt on their ensuing possession, PCW ran 9:49 off the clock on an 18-play, 70-yard drive. The drive ended when Sam Modeen found Gabe Walters open in the end zone for a 14-yard scoring pass, Walters' first reception of the season, the Thunder's only second-half pass and a 21-8 lead with 1:55 remaining.

"Sam had four options,'' Darrin Byklum said. "He made a nice read. Gabe was the only one open. That was a huge play.''

A 78-yard Wagner run set up a John Fontaine 2-yard TD run in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead. But Fertile-Beltrami took the lead back with 2:04 left in the first quarter when Michael Stuhaug found Dylan Pearce across the middle. Pearce broke a tackle and went 56 yards on the reception and an 8-6 lead.

Pearce was injured early in the second half and didn't play again on offense.

"That hurt our offense,'' F-B coach Brian Nelson said. "But give PCW credit. They shut down what we did. They kept grinding away. We've been pretty good stopping the running game. But in the second half, their size up front gave us problems.''

The outcome left both teams with 4-2 records.

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