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Grand Forks Central football starts new era with win over Watford City

The Knights started the 2022 season with a 75-yard kickoff return from Jack Simmers en route to a 19-0 halftime lead against Watford City.

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Grand Forks Central's Malachi Beaulieu celebrates his touchdown with Michael Torgerson (77) and Chance Colgrove in the second half of their game with Watford City Friday at Cushman Field to give the Knights a 26-0 lead.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — Grand Forks Central football fans hoping to see reasons for optimism to kick off a new era under first-year Knights coach Jake Schauer didn't have to wait long Friday evening.

Jack Simmers took the opening kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown as the Knights rolled over Watford City 33-0 at Cushman Field, winning a season opener for the first time since 2009.

"Last year, we didn't have the year we wanted," Central wide receiver-defensive lineman Tray Kuntz said. "This is great. It's a great start to the year and hopefully we can keep making this season better."

Central's win to kick off the 2022 season certainly wasn't classic Knights, a program that has featured dynamic running backs over the years.

The Knights pulled ahead with a pass-heavy attack. Central quarterback Dylan LaMont was 16-for-22 passing for 164 yards and two touchdowns, while the Knights ran for 75 yards with 65 of those yards coming on the final drive of the fourth quarter.

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"(LaMont) is a really smart kid, and he reads the field well," Schauer said. "He's super easy to coach. I thought he was a good leader."

Watford City, a program that has gone 2-34 in the last four years, was led by Judd Johnsrud, who had 54 passing yards and 15 rushing yards. Jason Hogue added 75 rushing yards on 15 carries.

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Grand Forks Central's Jack Simmers runs past Watford City defenders Koen Helmuth, left, and Carson Voll in the second half of their game Friday at Cushman Field.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

After the Knights went up 8-0 following the Simmers kick return, Watford City went three-and-out offensively and Central countered with a 17-play drive.

Knights kicker Ross Wilber hit a 27-yard field goal to push the lead to 11-0.

Watford City went three-and-out on its second offensive series and the resulting punt attempt was botched as Central defensive lineman Zach Kuznia tackled the Wolves' punter deep in Watford City territory.

After the turnover, the Knights ballooned the lead to 19-0 three plays later as Jayden Haake bowled into the end zone from 3 yards out.

The short passing game of LaMont kept the Central momentum rolling in the third quarter. He connected with Malachi Beaulieu for a 10-yard touchdown pass to make it 26-0.

The final score was a 4-yard pass from LaMont to Cole Barta, who also had an interception defensively.

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Grand Forks Central defenders Tray Kuntz, left, and Zach Kuznia react to Kuntz' sack of Watford City quarterback Judd Johnsrud to turn over the ball on downs in the second half Friday.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Barta caught six passes for 52 yards, while Kuntz had five grabs for 57 yards.

LaMont was far and away Central's leading rusher with two carries for 51 yards.

GF Central 33,Watford City 0

First quarter

GFC – Jack Simmers 75 kickoff return (Cole Barta run)

GFC – Ross Wilber 27 field goal

Second quarter

GFC – Jayden Haake 3 run (Barta run)

Third quarter

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GFC – Malachi Beaulieu 10 pass from Dylan LaMont (Wilber kick)

Fourth quarter

GFC – Barta 4 pass from LaMont (Wilber kick)

Individual leaders

RUSHING – GFC: Dylan LaMont 2-51, Caden Johansen 2-18, Jayden Haake 4-7; WC: Jason Hogue 15-75

PASSING – GFC: LaMont 16-22-0, 164 yards; WC: Judd Johnsrud 5-11-1, 54 yards

RECEIVING – GFC: Cole Barta 6-52, Tray Kuntz 5-57, Jack Simmers 1-22, Bryce Philpot 2-16; WC: Levi Musser 4-29, Martin Waggoner 1-17

Related Topics: GF CENTRAL
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

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, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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