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McNeill, Packers triumph

GRAND FORKS, N.D.

GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- It's no secret who West Fargo tailback Brian McNeill patterns his game after.

The 5-foot-8, 190-pound cut-back runner says he's always had an admiration for former Detroit Lions star running back Barry Sanders.

"He's always been someone I've watched and someone I've tried to pick things up from," McNeill said.

The senior back had a very Sanders-like night Friday at Cushman Field.

McNeill scored touchdowns of 56, 64 and 44 yards and finished with a career-high 242 yards on just 15 carries to lead the Packers over Grand Forks Red River 35-0.

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"He's a pretty special guy," said West Fargo head coach Jay Gibson, whose team improved to 4-1. "He has the ability to run about three-quarter speed, until something opens up, and then burn you. He can do some amazing things."

McNeill saved his most amazing trick for his curtain call.

Early in the third quarter, he took the ball around the left end and looked to be surrounded by Roughriders a few yards in front of the line of scrimmage.

But somehow, McNeill couldn't be wrapped up.

With the defense almost entirely on the near side of the field, McNeill made a cut-back move and found nothing but green grass between him and the end zone.

"I had no idea," Gibson said. "I thought he was down and so I turned away. Somebody had to tell me 'Coach, he's still going'. That's what he can do when he can feel the overpursuit."

While McNeill's hero was known for highlight runs like that, Sanders was also famous for giving credit to his teammates.

"Our line did a great job tonight," McNeill said. "They let me get into the open field. They make a night like this possible."

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There wasn't much open field for the Roughriders' running game Friday.

West Fargo outgained Red River 285-18 on the ground. The Roughriders did not have a positive run until John Prout's six-yard plunge with 5 minutes, 22 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

"We struggled against the run earlier in the year, but we've definitely come around," Gibson said.

West Fargo 14 7 14 0 -- 35

Red River 0 0 0 0 -- 0

WF--Edwards 5 run (Bishoff kick).

WF--McNeill 56 run (Bishoff kick).

WF--Farkas 22 run (Bishoff kick).

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WF--McNeill 64 run (Bishoff kick).

WF--McNeill 44 run (Bishoff kick).

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: WF: McNeill 15-242, Farkas 6-28, Edwards 5-21, Spiker 5-(-18), Schmidt 3-6, L. Johnson 2-4, Gibson 2-2. RR: Cariveau 8-9, Krause 7-(-10), Roche 4-22, Delisle 3-6, Compton 3-(-14), Prout 2-6, Kvale 1-(-1).

PASSING: WF: Edwards 4-12-28, Farkas 2-3-1-33, Gibson 0-1-0. RR: Compton 7-19-1-115, Black 0-1-0.

RECEIVING: WF: Heitkamp 3-44, Wolden 2-6, Moch 1-11. RR: Cariveau 5-97, McNamera 1-13, Roche 1-5.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Cummings at (701) 241-5549

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