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Drive to survive: West Fargo's touchdown with 2.7 seconds left propels Packers to state semifinals

A perfect two-minute drill vaulted West Fargo into the North Dakota Class 3A semifinals on Friday. Quarterback Bryce Jorgenson capped a 72-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard pass to Jon Pistorius with 2.7 seconds on the clock to lift the No. 4 Pack...

West Fargo quarterback Bryce Jorgenson
West Fargo quarterback Bryce Jorgenson keeps the ball on a run against Minot on Friday at the Fargodome. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

A perfect two-minute drill vaulted West Fargo into the North Dakota Class 3A semifinals on Friday.

Quarterback Bryce Jorgenson capped a 72-yard scoring drive with a 3-yard pass to Jon Pistorius with 2.7 seconds on the clock to lift the No. 4 Packers to a 31-27 victory against No. 5 Minot at the Fargodome.

West Fargo will play defending champion Bismarck next Saturday for a berth in the Dakota Bowl.

"I told my (offensive) line I couldn't get touched. I needed time to get my receivers the ball and I knew they would make the catches," said Jorgenson, who missed practice on Thursday due to illness. "I credit that to my line to give me time to throw the ball. They started the chain. My line made that drive."

Jorgenson and the Packers took possession with two minutes remaining following a fumble by Minot running back Donte Smart.

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Smart, who finished the game with 183 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries, was stripped as he attempted to fight for extra yards at the Packers' 28.

West Fargo junior linebacker Tyler Kennedy recovered to give West Fargo an opportunity to win.

With no timeouts, Jorgenson picked his way down field with short passes and a 15-yard run to the Minot 16-yard line.

All of Pistorius' three catches and 23 yards came on the final drive.

But none was more important than the quick slant he ran for the game-winner.

"We mixed in a couple new routes that Minot would not have seen on film because we had not done them, yet," Jorgenson said. "We knew they work against them. We had a couple of short routes, and our receivers can break a tackle. They made big plays for me."

The teams took different paths to the end zone in a back-and-forth first half.

West Fargo took to the air as Jorgenson passed 11 times for 157 yards before the half.

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The Magicians relied on Smart. The 5-foot-7, 157 pound senior carried the ball seven times for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

The Packers held a 10-0 advantage early in the second quarter.

Minot came roaring back with big runs by Smart.

He raced 24 yards to the West Fargo 4-yard line to set up the Magicians' first score. Smart fumbled on the play, but scooped up the ball to maintain possession for Minot.

He scored a play later.

The Magicians went ahead 14-10 on a 38-yard run by Smart.

West Fargo took a 17-10 halftime advantage with a 10-yard run by Jorgenson.

"It was hard fought," Minot coach Barry Holmen said. "But the intensity level was a little higher (than the last time the two teams met). I was really proud of our team on both sides of the ball. ... We struggled to stop them. That quarterback is great. The run and the pass, we came up a play short. Hats off to a real good team."

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Minot held a 27-17 advantage with 7:24 remaining in the fourth quarter.

The Magicians looked to be driving to seal the win before Smart's fumble.

"Momentum from the last drive will carry into Bismarck," said Jorgenson, who finished with 313 passing yards. "It will be an upbeat time at practice. We'll all be working hard and preparing for Bismarck."

Minot 0 14 0 13- 27

West Fargo 3 14 0 14- 31

WF-Salter 32 field goal

WF-Kiefer 1 run (Salter kick)

M-Smart 4 run (kick failed)

M-Smart 38 run (Tengesdal run)

WF-Jorgenson 10 run (Salter kick)

M-Steinwand 15 pass from Murphy (kick failed)

M-Smart 70 run (Larson kick)

WF-Kiefer (Salter kick)

WF-Pistorius 3 pass from Jorgenson (Salter kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: M, Murphy 10-10, Smart 18-183, Hoffman 1-1, Tengesdal 12-77. WF, Kiefer 15-42, Jorgenson 18-55.

PASSING: M, Murphy 7-10-0 91. WF, Jorgenson 23-28-0 313.

RECEIVING: M, Hoffman 2-48, Steinwand 3-28, Smart 1-7, Nelson 1-8. WF, Nelson 5-61, Neer 5-81, Schwartz 3-55, Albert 2-4, Lehmann 2-16, Lemke 1-62, Kiefer 1-7, Pistorius 3-23.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562

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