N.D. 9-man football playoffs: Tommies come from behind to beat Eagles
THOMPSON, N.D. -- North Border's wild trick play for a touchdown late in the second quarter generated a good deal of buzz among the crowd. Thompson's offense, on the other hand, was far less imaginative -- yet greatly effective. The Tommies simpl...
THOMPSON, N.D. -- North Border's wild trick play for a touchdown late in the second quarter generated a good deal of buzz among the crowd.
Thompson's offense, on the other hand, was far less imaginative -- yet greatly effective.
The Tommies simply handed the ball off to Brody Hjelmstad.
Hjelmstad rushed for 304 yards on 26 carries to lead Thompson to a come-from-behind 36-32 win over visiting North Border on Saturday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota 9-man playoffs.
"He's a stud," Thompson coach John Maus said of his senior running back. "I wouldn't trade him for any other back in the state."
The Tommies, who improved to 11-0, will host Wyndmere-Lidgerwood -- a 50-8 winner over Hillsboro -- this Saturday in the state semifinals. Thompson has never won a North Dakota state football title.
Despite Hjelmstad's huge day, Thompson entered the fourth quarter trailing 32-22.
But the Tommies opened the fourth quarter with an 11-play drive capped by Connor Weber's 19-yard touchdown pass to Jarad Syrstad with 7:55 remaining. A successful two-point conversion pass cut the Eagles' lead to 32-30.
After a North Border three-and-out, the Tommies went on another drive. The eight-play drive, which was aided by Hjlemstad runs of 36 and 24 yards, ended in Zack Waxvig's go-ahead 2-yard touchdown run with 2:37 to go.
North Border's final charge went as far as the Thompson 36-yard line. However, on fourth-and-3 with 56 seconds left, the Tommies swarmed Eagles running back Brett Dalzell in the backfield.
The Eagles were forced to play the fourth quarter without their starting quarterback. Starter Tyler Stockton left the game late in the third quarter when he suffered a possible concussion while fighting for extra yards on a fourth-and-1.
"With all of our timeouts, we were set up perfectly there at the end," North Border coach Jeff Carpenter said. "But I think Thompson was able to recognize our formations and what we were trying to do. That allowed them to get to the right spot."
There was one formation Thompson didn't recognize, however, in the second quarter.
The Eagles dug into their deep bag of trick plays to cut Thompson's lead to 22-18 at halftime. With 29 seconds left in the second quarter, Stockton dropped back to pass and intentionally one-hopped a swing pass to Dalzell. The Tommies defense, thinking the incomplete pass had finished the play, stopped. But the swing pass was actually a backward lateral, keeping the ball alive, giving Dalzell an easy 22-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Mathison.
The play halted momentum for Thompson, which had just built a 22-12 lead behind Hjelmstad touchdown runs of 89 and 4 yards.
Ignited by the trick play, the Eagles scored twice in the third quarter to build a 10-point lead. Dalzell, who finished with 139 yards on 18 carries, scored on runs of 12 and 41 yards.
It was the second time North Border had built a double-digit cushion. The Eagles led 12-0 at the end of the first quarter.
"I don't know how to explain that start; I thought we were ready to play," Maus said. "I guess that shows some character, hanging in there and coming back."
Thompson 36, North Border 32
Key play: Zack Waxvik's 2-yard touchdown run for a 36-32 lead with 2:37 left.
Key player: Brody Hjelmstad 304 rushing yards.