Mustangs avenge last year’s lone regular-season loss to Shanley with 'shootout' win over Deacons

West Fargo Sheyenne's Barika Kpeenu gets past Fargo Shanley's Nick Hoedl on his 96-yard kickoff return for a third quarter touchdown on Friday, Sept. 18, at Essentia Health Mustang Stadium. David Samson / The Forum

WEST FARGO — West Fargo Sheyenne passed its biggest test of the season as the Mustangs topped Fargo Shanley 43-38 in a highly anticipated football matchup Friday night between the top-two ranked teams in the East Region.

The Mustangs (4-0) ended Shanley's (3-1) three-game winning streak. With the win, they avenged last year's loss to the Deacons, which was Sheyenne's only regular-season loss.

"We wanted this one bad," Sheyenne senior running back Barika Kpeenu said. "We knew we didn’t come out right away last year. We felt like we owned the place, we felt like we were the best team in the state. This win right here proved that we still have a long ways to go, but it’s a good win."

Last year's game was on Sheyenne's minds, but more as fuel, junior quarterback Grant Warkenthien said.

" It feels great to get the first four wins. Especially over Shanley, they’re a really good football program," Warkenthien said. "To come out here and have a shootout like that, that was huge to get the win. And obviously it’s going to keep us rolling into the season, hopefully get that EDC title like the last two years."


Fargo Shanley kicker Emmet Kenney (14) watches his 58-yard field goal attempt sail true against West Fargo Sheyenne on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, at Essentia Health Mustang Stadium. David Samson / The Forum

The scoreboard at Essentia Health Mustang Stadium got a workout in the first two quarters, lighting up early and often as the Mustangs and Deacons notched three first-half touchdowns apiece.

Both teams scored on each of their first two drives to make it a barn-burner first half.

Shanley ate 6 minutes, 22 seconds off the clock and capped the game's opening drive with a score after Cooper Mattern connected with Aidan DeVine for a 10-yard touchdown pass.

Warkenthien hit JaH'heem Leake on a fade route for a 5-yard touchdown — the 6-foot-8 senior's first of the season — to tie it at 7 with six seconds left in the first quarter.

DeVine grabbed a swing pass from Mattern to get his second touchdown of the night and open the second-quarter scoring. Kpeenu, a North Dakota State football commit, tied it up at 14-14 on a 61-yard touchdown strike from Warkenthien. The junior quarterback combined for four touchdowns, three in the air and one on the ground.

Sheyenne quickly got the ball back after forcing a turnover on downs. Leake capped the 5-plus minute drive with his second score of the game. Zach Moser's two-point conversion pulled the Mustangs ahead for the first time in the game (22-14) with just a minute to go in the frame.


With less than a second left, Mattern hooked up with Shanley senior Carter Kochmann for a 31-yard touchdown pass. Both teams’ passing games were alive and well.

Fargo Shanley's Aidan DeVine beaks away from West Fargo Sheyenne defenders on a 25-yard swing pass for a touchdown on Friday, Sept. 18, at Essentia Health Mustang Stadium. David Samson / The Forum

Just as he did in the first, DeVine started the scoring in the second half on a 56-yard touchdown strike, but Shanley wouldn't hold the lead for long. The Mustangs scored within a minute on an explosive 96-yard kick return by Kpeenu.

"I saw a hole, my eyes got big, and I wanted to get there as quickly as possible," Kpeenu said. "So I ran as fast as I could trying to get through that hole. Shoutout to Matt Treib for that block."

Kpeenu eclipsed 200 rushing yards in the first five minutes of the third quarter.

Shanley's following possession would serve as the turning point for the Mustangs. Sheyenne picked up a Mattern fumble, which led to a score that put the Mustangs out front for good.

"That was definitely a momentum shift," Kpeenu said. "The drive before, they were going down the field pretty easy. Then we scored on our drive and they had an opportunity to score on (the following possession). That drive right there really sealed the deal for us."


West Fargo Sheyenne's Barika Kpeenu high steps past Fargo Shanley's Isaac Perkerewicz for a late touchdown to seal the win on Friday, Sept. 18, at Essentia Health Mustang Stadium. David Samson / The Forum

Emmet Kenney cut Sheyenne's lead on a 58-yard field goal. Kenney's long boot now sits atop the recent prep record books in the state, ahead of Jacob Weiler's 52-yard field goal in 2012 for Fargo South.

The Deacons tried to claw their way back, but another Kpeenu touchdown and a Mustangs defensive effort that clamped down on Shanley locked in the win.

"Our defense came around in the second half for sure," Warkenthien said. "They got big stops and they made plays and got the offense rolling too and everybody hyped up."

But Shanley didn't go down without a fight. With 1:17 to go, the Deacons forced a fumble at the 2-yard line. Mattern capped the 98-yard drive with a 2-yard TD rush with seven seconds to go as the clock sounded.

WFS 7 15 14 7—43

FS 7 14 7 10—38

FS — DeVine 10 pass from Mattern (Kenney kick)
WFS — Leake 5 pass from Warkenthien (Moser kick)
FS — DeVine 25 pass from Mattern (Kenney kick)
WFS — Kpeenu 61 pass from Warkenthien (Moser kick)
WFS — Leake 4 pass from Warkenthien (Moser run)
FS — Kochmann 31 pass from Mattern (Kenney kick)
FS — DeVine 56 pass from Mattern (Kenney kick)
WFS — Kpeenu 96 kick return (Moser kick)
WFS — Warkenthien 3 run (Moser kick)
FS — Kenney 58 field goal
WFS — Kpeenu 8 run (Moser kick)
FS — Mattern 2 run (Kenney kick)
Carissa Wigginton is a high school sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. A Fargo native, she graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Wigginton joined The Forum’s sports department in August 2019.
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