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PREP FOOTBALL: Central claims first win

Grand Forks Central found its sparkplug Friday deep on its depth chart. Running back Bryce Brandon had 103 yards in total offense in his first start on offense this season. The sophomore was a key player as the Knights beat visiting Fargo North 2...

Grand forks Central quarterback Jake Mussman (4) eludes the Fargo North defense
Grand forks Central quarterback Jake Mussman (4) eludes the Fargo North defense as he scrambles for yards in the third quarter of Central's 23-12 win Friday in Grand Forks.JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD

Grand Forks Central found its sparkplug Friday deep on its depth chart.

Running back Bryce Brandon had 103 yards in total offense in his first start on offense this season. The sophomore was a key player as the Knights beat visiting Fargo North 23-12 on Friday to register their first win of the high school football season.

Central improved to 1-2 in the East Region and 1-4 overall, while dropping North to 0-3 and 0-5.

Brandon was No. 3 on the Knights' depth chart at running back a week ago. But injuries to his older brother, Blake Brandon (wrist), and Kaleb Binstock (leg) thrust the sophomore into the lineup.

"The best-case scenario going in was for him to take care of the football and get some yards," Central coach Bill Lorenz said. "We didn't expect this. Gosh, he took some big hits. But he was a huge difference. That was, by far, our best effort by a running back this season."

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Brandon finished with 45 yards rushing, caught six passes for 33 yards and completed his only pass for 25 yards.

"I figured I was just going to get destroyed," the 5-foot-9, 155-pound Brandon said. "I didn't thing I was big enough, strong enough, fast enough. I didn't think I was ready for varsity.

"I guess I was."

Central took an 8-0 lead at halftime on a 7-yard pass from Jake Mussman to Brandon. Mussman completed a 38-yard pass to Jordan Lindsey and an 11-yarder to Brandon to set up the score.

North threatened to score late in the half, reaching the Central 1-yard line on a long pass as time expired.

"I thought that (drive) was a boost for us," North coach Kelly Kalina said. "We made some great plays. We were excited about the way we moved the ball going into the half."

But Central cooled off the Spartans, The Knights held onto the ball for 6:07 on the opening second-half possession, a drive that culminated in a Brandon-to-Chancler Devier 25-yard pass play for a 16-6 lead.

"That was huge," Lorenz said. "I think they had momentum. But we came out, had a long drive and put points on the board. That took away their momentum."

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North got within 16-6 on a 12-yard run by Seth Brenneman, his first of two TDs (he had a 2-yard scoring reception with 1:32 remaining). But Central took a 23-6 lead with 3:40 left when Casey Aarvig caught a 17-yard TD pass from Mussman.

North had a big advantage in yardage, picking up 337 yards to the Knights' 166. Avery Thompson passed for 167 yards to lead the Spartans. But Central forced three turnovers, including a pair of Aarvig interceptions -- Central's first picks of the season.

"We gave up yards between the 20s," Lorenz said. "But we had some big takeaways, and we made key stops inside the 20."

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