PREP FOOTBALL: Riders hold off Spartans

Grand Forks Red River quarterback Taylor Steen accidentally called the wrong play and fullback Quinn Baumann didn't really run the right route, but it all added up to an important win for the Roughriders.

Red River's Quinn Baumann
Red River's Quinn Baumann turns up field on a touchdown recption on Red River's first possession of the game Thursday night against Fargo North Herald photo by John Stennes.

Grand Forks Red River quarterback Taylor Steen accidentally called the wrong play and fullback Quinn Baumann didn't really run the right route, but it all added up to an important win for the Roughriders.

Baumann's 15-yard touchdown catch on third-and-10 in the fourth quarter boosted the Riders to a 41-30 East Region win over Fargo North on Thursday night at Cushman Field.

Red River improved to 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the region, while North dropped 3-5 and 2-4. The win guaranteed the Riders a spot in the North Dakota Class AAA playoffs.

Booting out to his right, Steen hit Baumann for the fingertip grab in the end zone that gave Red River a 35-30 advantage with 6 minutes, 17 seconds to play.

However, it certainly wasn't what Red River coach Vyrn Muir had envisioned.


"We had called for a pitch, but Taylor called the play below that on his wrist band," Muir said. "Quinn made a heck of a play. He isn't supposed to be there, but he saw where his defender was and deepened his route."

Baumann's second touchdown catch -- he also started the game with a 20-yard scoring reception -- erased the momentum for the Spartans, who had just overcome an 11-point halftime deficit.

North's final rebuttal was an 11-play drive down to the Riders' 29-yard line. But on fourth-and-9 with 2:36 left, Spartans quarterback Kameron Giffey's pass was incomplete.

Red River iced the win three plays later when backup running back Logan Ferry burst into the open for a 58-yard touchdown run.

Ferry was injured as he was brought down from behind on the play. Red River's running back depth may be in question now as starter Dayton Marek was bothered by an ankle injury.

North's running game, on the other hand, was completely healthy. Spartans all-state junior Peter Saintal rushed for 207 yards on 25 carries.

Saintal eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. He entered with 841 yards on the year.

Saintal rushed for 186 of those yards in an exciting first half in which the two teams combined for 13 plays that spanned at least 10 yards.


"Red River put extra guys in the box in the second half," North coach Kelly Kalina said. "They brought in their outside linebackers a little tighter."

North quarterback Kameron Giffey added 65 rushing yards and 117 passing yards. Giffey found success through the air in the second half after finishing the first half with one completion for minus-1 yard.

Steen ended with 169 passing yards on 12-for-26 passing and one interception. The senior quarterback came out firing, hitting on four of his first five passes for 104 yards.

But the Red River passing game cooled off and Marek was sidelined with an injury, allowing the Spartans to pull ahead 30-27 late in the third quarter. Giffey hit Anthony Schnabel on a 20-yard touchdown pass, followed by a Giffey 2-point conversion run.

"The kids played hard," Kalina said. "They never gave up."

Muir felt the Riders' experience last week against Devils Lake paid dividends against the Spartans.

"Last week when we got down late in the game, I think we panicked," Muir said. "That helped (Thursday). We challenged our seniors in the last timeout. We told them this was their last guaranteed home game, and they needed to go out and do it."

GF Red River 41,


Fargo North 30

Key play: Quinn Baumann's 15-yard touchdown catch for a 35-30 lead in the fourth quarter.

Key player: Taylor Steen, 12-for-26 passing, 169 yards.

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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