FARGO - Ottertail Central had lost in its previous two trips to a football section championship game in the Fargodome. The Bulldogs weren't going to let that happen for a third consecutive time Friday at Gate City Bank Field.
Senior running back Austin Wensauer rushed for 114 yards and four touchdowns to help power Ottertail Central to a 38-28 victory against the Ada-Borup Cougars to win the Minnesota Class 1A, Section 6 championship.
"We missed on the last two years, been here, came up on the short end and we've been hungry," OTC head coach Eric Olson said. "We're hungry. When you come here and don't get what you want and come back a third year ... the kids wanted it."
The No. 4-ranked Bulldogs (10-0) play in the state quarterfinals against No. 2-ranked BOLD at noon Saturday, Nov. 10, in Alexandria. No. 9-ranked Ada-Borup (8-2) had a chance to repeat as section champions. The Cougars defeated OTC 31-13 for the section crown a season ago.
"You've got to give them all the credit. They beat us," Ada-Borup head coach Paul Tinjum said. "They got a little revenge. ... We made too many mistakes and they played a great game."
The Bulldogs scored 30 points in the first half to build a 16-point halftime lead. Ada-Borup recovered a pooch kick to open the game at the OTC 17-yard line. That set up a Brett Fetting 3-yard touchdown run that gave the Cougars a 7-0 lead with 9 minutes, 44 seconds to play in the first quarter.
"It was nice to have a fast start there, but after that we kind of let them back into the game too quickly," Tinjum said.
The Bulldogs responded by scoring four of the game's next five touchdowns. Three of those OTC scores were Wensauer touchdown runs. His 3-yard scoring run gave the Bulldogs a 22-7 lead with 9:32 to play in the second quarter.
"The line had really good blocking," Wensauer said.
The 5-foot-9, 168-pound Wensauer rushed for 70 yards and three touchdowns on 16 attempts in the first half. He finished with 114 yards on 30 carries.
"He's a tough kid. He's not even 170 pounds, but he finds the hole, moves his feet, you can't ask for a better kid in the backfield," Olson said. "He's got great balance and great kinesthetic awareness in knowing where he's at on the field. He never stops moving his feet and has a little attitude when he hits the hole."
OTC quarterback Nick VanErp also had a big first half, rushing for all his 120 yards on 14 attempts in the first two quarters. VanErp's 1-yard touchdown run gave the Bulldogs a 16-7 lead with 2:38 to play in the first quarter. OTC finished with 290 rushing yards.
"We won the line of scrimmage and that's what it took in the second half to grind it out," Olson said.
Ada-Borup cut the OTC lead to 30-20 after Colby Stevenson caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Jared Brainard on fourth-and-goal with 5:18 to play in the third quarter. The Bulldogs countered with a 15-play, 75-yard scoring drive that culminated early in the fourth quarter. OTC converted a fourth-and-7 play to keep that drive alive. VanErp connected with Blake Wallevand for a 25-yard pass on that key fourth-down conversion.
Two plays later, Wensauser scored on a 3-yard touchdown run that gave the Bulldogs a 38-20 lead with 10:41 to play in the fourth quarter.
"Every time you win one of these, it's always special," Olson said.
Brainard completed 9 of 18 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown for Ada-Borup. He added a 33 rushing yards, including a 9-yard touchdown run with 5:18 to play in the fourth quarter.
"They did a great job of blocking up front and their backs run extremely hard," Tinjum said. "They just out-executed us throughout the game."