MOORHEAD — The Elk River Elks proved to again be a nemesis for the Moorhead Spuds.

The Elks rushed for 470 yards, scored 29 points in the second half and held off a late Moorhead rally to score a 50-46 victory on Friday night in Minnesota Class 5A football at Jim Gotta Stadium.

"We just had to be more physical," said Spuds senior Jamal Dixon. "We got outmuscled. We’re going to come back and do better. … They seemed like they wanted it more than us. We’ve just got to take it as a learning lesson."

The Spuds (4-1) had their 11-game winning streak snapped. The Elks (4-2) were the last team to beat Moorhead, earning a dramatic 58-55 victory against the Spuds. In that game, the Elks scored on a last-second, 57-yard pass play to stun Moorhead in the 2019 state quarterfinals.

Moorhead's Karson Wendt races down the sidelines on a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown against Elk River at Jim Gotta Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
Moorhead's Karson Wendt races down the sidelines on a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown against Elk River at Jim Gotta Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Elk River held off a late Spuds rally this time as Moorhead scored the game's final 13 points, but it wasn't enough to overcome an efficient and explosive Elks running game. Elk River had five touchdown runs of at least 50 yards. Running back Dylan Rogers rushed for 207 yards and three touchdowns on 16 attempts. Quarterback Cade Osterman added 154 yards and two TDs on 10 carries.

"It’s frustrating," said Spuds head coach Kevin Feeney. "I think you saw a team in Elk River that out-physicaled us and played really disciplined football."

The Spuds made a late rally behind a strong passing game. Quarterback Gavin Quade completed 21 of 37 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Moorhead wide receiver Alonn Salman had 11 receptions for 119 yards and two TDs. Dixon rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns on 11 attempts.

"We really wanted it, but we just couldn’t come out with it in the end," Dixon said. "We’ve got to do better on defense. We’re going to come back and work at it."

 Elk River's Dylan Rogers scores his second touchdown in the fourth quarter against Moorhead at Jim Gotta Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
Elk River's Dylan Rogers scores his second touchdown in the fourth quarter against Moorhead at Jim Gotta Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum


The Elks started to take control in the third quarter, scoring 15 points on two long scoring drives. Elk River built a 29-21 lead after Rogers scored a 62-yard run with less than 10 minutes to play in the third quarter. The Elks took the eight-point lead after Osterman ran in the two-point conversion and the Spuds were in catch-up mode for the remainder of the game.

The Spuds countered Rogers' TD with a Dixon scoring run that covered 6 yards, but Moorhead trailed 29-27 with less than seven minutes to play in the third quarter after a failed pass on the two-point conversion attempt.

“Once you’re chasing it, you’re chasing it the whole game," Feeney said of that Elk River two-point conversion.

On the next drive, Osterman ripped off a 62-yard TD run for a 36-27 Elk River lead with 4:18 to play in the third quarter. After a Spuds turnover, the Elks took a 43-27 lead when Rogers scored on an 11-yard run with 11:28 to play in the fourth quarter.

Dixon scored on a 4-yard run on the next Moorhead drive, but the Elks led 43-33 after the Spuds couldn't convert a two-point conversion attempt with less than nine minutes to play in the final quarter.

Moorhead's Alonn Salman grabs a 47-yard touchdown reception past Elk River's Cade Osterman at Jim Gotta Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
Moorhead's Alonn Salman grabs a 47-yard touchdown reception past Elk River's Cade Osterman at Jim Gotta Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

Rogers added a 55-yard touchdown run to give Elk River a 50-33 lead with 7:36 remaining.

The Spuds scored the next 13 points in a stretch that included an onside kick recovery. Wide receiver Michael Haugo scored on a 10-yard pass from Quade to make it 50-40. Salman caught a 3-yard TD pass to cut the Elk River lead to 50-46 with around three minutes remaining.

Elk River recovered the ensuing onside kick and then ran out the clock after converting a fourth-and-1 with around two minutes to play. The Spuds weren't able to solve a straightforward, yet deceptive, Elk River T-formation offense. The Elks officially only attempted two passes, but both were spikes to stop the clock.

"It is discipline," Feeney said. "It’s the epitome of all 11 guys have to do whatever their job is on that given play. If you have one guy that decides to play hero ball, it goes for 60 (yards)."

Moorhead's Ben Hrdlicka plunges in from one yard to score against Elk River in the first quarter at Jim Gotta Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
Moorhead's Ben Hrdlicka plunges in from one yard to score against Elk River in the first quarter at Jim Gotta Stadium on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

The scoring was fast and furious from the outset as the teams combined for 42 points in an opening half that featured four scoring plays of at least 47 yards.

Elk River took an early lead after Osterman scored on a 50-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 with a shade more than 7 minutes to play in the first quarter.

The Spuds forced an Elks turnover, recovering a fumble at the Elk River 17-yard line, to set up the first Moorhead score. Moments later, running back Ben Hrdlicka scored on a 1-yard run to make it 7-7 with less than four minutes to play in the first.

Elk River countered quickly as Rogers scored on a 62-yard run on the first play on the ensuing drive to give the Elks a 14-7 lead with 3:14 to play in the first quarter.

The Spuds answered with 14 consecutive points, scoring two big-play TDs. Quade lofted a perfect pass that Salman caught in stride for a 47-yard score that made it 14-14 with around 90 seconds to play in the opening quarter. Karson Wendt added a 75-yard punt return for a TD that gave the Spuds a 21-14 lead to end the first quarter.

The scoring slowed in the second quarter, but the Elks tied the score with a touchdown in the closing seconds of the opening half. Running back Jack Sumstad scored on a 2-yard run to tie the score at 21-21 with less than 20 seconds to play until halftime. That score capped an 18-play, 83-yard drive that lasted around seven minutes.

"This football team hasn’t experienced a lot of losses or extremely tough moments," Feeney said. "This one I don’t think anyone of us expected, but credit Elk River. … We didn’t respond tonight."

ER 14 7 15 14—50

MHS 21 0 6 19—46

ER: Osterman 50 run (Keoraj kick)

MHS: Hrdlicka 1 run (Colborn kick)

ER: Rogers 62 run (Keoraj kick)

MHS: Salman 47 pass from Quade (Colborn kick)

MHS: Wendt 75 punt return (Colborn kick)

ER: Sumstad 2 run (Keoraj kick)

ER: Rogers 62 run (Osterman run)

MHS: Dixon 6 run (pass failed)

ER: Osterman 62 run (Keoraj kick)

ER: Rogers 11 run (Keoraj kick)

MHS: Dixon 4 run (pass failed)

ER: Rogers 55 run (Keoraj kick)

MHS: Haugo 10 pass from Quade (Feeney kick)

MHS: Salman 3 pass from Quade (kick failed)