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Knights top Bruins for title

Mike Berg nearly shed tears Saturday at the Fargodome. The moment was 27 years in the making for the Grand Forks Central Knights head coach. Berg's team forced six Fargo South turnovers, beating the defending state champion Bruins 39-29 for the N...

Mike Berg nearly shed tears Saturday at the Fargodome.

The moment was 27 years in the making for the Grand Forks Central Knights head coach.

Berg's team forced six Fargo South turnovers, beating the defending state champion Bruins 39-29 for the North Dakota Class 3A state football championship at the Dakota Bowl.

"I'm overwhelmed," said Berg, in his 27th year at Central, his eyes turning red and starting to water. "I had no idea what I was going to say after this one ended."

Central (11-1) earned its first state football title since 1946, avenging a loss against South (10-2) in last year's state title game.

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"It is disappointing," said South senior receiver Evan Savageau,who caught six passes for 104 yards."We all know we can play a lot better than we did today. It was just one of those days."

Central buried South with big plays, especially through the air.

The Knights had three TD passes that went for 34 yards or longer. In addition, senior running back Ryan Kasowski returned the game's opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown.

"Ryan set the tone right from the get-go," said Central quarterback Jake Landry, who completed 18 of 25 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns.

"That just got us going," Central senior wide receiver Mark Barclay added. "From there, it kept escalating."

Barclay caught touchdown passes of 46, 34 and 69 yard from Landry, who also tossed a 7-yard score.

"Jake put the ball where he needed to," said Barclay, who also intercepted two passes and ended with 200 yards receiving on six catches.

Central picked off five South passes, including three by senior Andrew Schultz, and recovered another fumble.

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In contrast, the Knights didn't turn the ball over once.

"Central kept making plays and we kept shooting ourselves in the foot," South coach Kevin Feeney said. "You can't win against a good football team doing that."

Trailing by 12 points at halftime, South closed the Central lead to 32-29 late in the third quarter on a two-yard Paul German touchdown run. German's score came with 1 minute, 53 seconds to play in the third.

On the ensuing Central possession, Savageau jumped an out pattern and appeared in position to pick off a Landry pass and potentially take it the other way for a touchdown.

Instead, Savageau was a split second late.

On the next play, Central scored on a 69-yard Landry-to-Barclay bomb on third-and-9.

The Knights looked like they were setting up a center screen, but after the Bruins sniffed that out, Landry decided to heave the ball down the right sideline to Barclay. He broke tackle at the South 20-yard line before racing into the end zone.

Central led 39-29 with 51 seconds to play in the third quarter.

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"We had so many chances to put ourselves in position to win and we just couldn't do it," Savageau said. "Central played a heck of a game. We had too many turnovers and couldn't come back from it."

Central finished with 383 yards, 109 on the ground. South ended with 366, including 234 yards rushing.

However, the Knights forced turnovers, scored a touchdown on special teams and made key plays at key moments.

"I think our guys tried to do too much and that's when bad things happen," Feeney said.

Central scored two touchdowns in the final 2:24 of the second quarter to take the lead for good. Both of those scores were Barclay touchdown catches.

"Typically when you get into one of these type of games with South, you end up on the short end," Berg said.

South 7 7 15 0-29

Central 14 12 13 0-39

GFC-Kasowski 94 kickoff return (kick blocked)

FS-German 2 run (Eriksmoen kick)

GFC-Kasowski 3 run (Conn pass from Landry)

FS-Solum 14 run (Eriksmoen kick)

GFC-Barclay 46 pass from Landry (kick failed)

GFC-Barclay 34 pass from Landry (kick failed)

FS-Sholl 40 run (Eriksmoen kick)

GFC-Schultz 7 pass from Landry (pass failed)

FS-German 2 run (Savageau run)

GFC-Barclay 69 pass from Landry (Wedin kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: FS, Solum 24-144, Sholl 7-55, Larson 3-19, Dawson 3-11, German 5-5. GFC, Kasowski 30-99, Landry 5-8, Gowan 1-2, Haug 1-0.

PASSING: FS, Larson 7-19-5 132 yards. GFC, Landry 18-25-0 274.

RECEIVING: FS, Savageau 6-104, Solum 1-28. GFC, Barclay 6-200, Schultz 6-29, Svare 3-20, Wedin 1-13, Greicar 2-12.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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