Knights clamp down for first victory

Grand Forks Central coach Bill Lorenz and Duluth East coach Joe Hietala pinpointed halftime adjustments for the key to Friday night's high school football game.

Central football
Central's Ken Smith (16) tackles Duluth East's quarterback Alex Toscano (13) in the second quarter Friday night. Herald photo by John Stennes.

Grand Forks Central coach Bill Lorenz and Duluth East coach Joe Hietala pinpointed halftime adjustments for the key to Friday night's high school football game.

Central made them. Duluth East did not.

The Knights shut out the Greyhounds in the second half and picked up their first win of the season in a 36-21 victory over winless Duluth East at Cushman Field.

"We switched up our coverages and brought pressure," Lorenz said. "The entire coaching staff made great adjustments in the second half."

The Greyhounds racked up 219 yards in total offense in the first half, mainly behind quarterback Zach Farmer's 151 passing yards. However, Duluth East was limited to just 35 yards of offense in the second half, including a minus-3 yards rushing. Duluth East completed just one of its first 11 passes of the second half, good for minus-5 yards.


"We did a much better job in the first half finding a mixture of runs and throws," Hietala said. "In the second half, we couldn't establish the run. When we got behind, we just couldn't connect on our passes."

Searching for their first win, the Knights likely had a hear-we-go-again feeling when Duluth East built a 21-8 lead by the middle of the second quarter.

The Greyhounds started the scoring on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Farmer to Brolle Kane and a Henry Roningen 1-yard run to build a 13-0 lead after one quarter. The Greyhounds' final score came on a 39-yard pass connection between Farmer and Andrew Florestano. Central sophomore cornerback Carrington Adams appeared to be in position for the high-floating pass, but Florestano did a better job adjusting to the play and reeled in the catch.

"Sometimes you're going to have a sophomore making sophomore mistakes," Lorenz said. "But I was proud of the way we battled. We got down early and faced adversity, but we battled."

The Knights were able to cut the Duluth East lead to 21-15 by halftime when Gage Salquist scored on a quarterback sneak.

Tyler Haug opened the second half by scoring his second touchdown of the game. Haug, who also scored in the second quarter on a 9-yard run, broke free on a screen pass and scooted in for a 55-yard touchdown reception on Central's third play to open the second half.

"That touchdown right away in the second half got us momentum quickly," Lorenz said.

Haug finished with 83 rushing yards and the long touchdown catch to pace the Knights offense. Salquist ended 9-for-13 passing for 108 yards and two interceptions.


But it was a Central interception early in the fourth quarter that put the game away. Central defensive back Ken Smith, who had just scored on a 5-yard touchdown catch, picked off an Alex Toscano pass and returned it 47 yards for a score. Smith's touchdown gave Central a 36-21 advantage.

The Knights defense took over from there and forced Duluth East to turn the ball over on downs on the next three possessions.

"With a young team, these guys haven't figured out how to make adjustments when things aren't going well," Hietala said.

Farmer finished with 189 passing yards, but completed just 4 of 12 passes in the second half.

Roningen led the Greyhounds on the ground, but he too was stifled in the second half. Roningen finished with 51 rushing yards -- 43 of those coming in the first half.

"When we started to struggle running the ball, we struggled throwing the ball; those things go hand in hand," Hietala said.

Central Duluth
Duluth East's Nick Carlson (85) hangs on to the ball after making a catch in front of Red River defense in Grand Forks Friday night. Herald photo by John Stennes.

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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