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Kindred overwhelms Bowman County on both sides to punch ticket to Dakota Bowl

Kindred advanced to the Dakota Bowl with a 51-19 semifinal win over Bowman County on Saturday

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The Kindred football team celebrates its win over Bowman County on Saturday in the North Dakota Class 11B state semifinals at Jerlow Field in Kindred. Carissa Wigginton / The Forum

KINDRED, N.D. — Trey Heinrich couldn’t wipe the smile off his face on Saturday after his team earned a spot in the Dakota Bowl.

Kindred downed Bowman County in the North Dakota Class 11B state football semifinals Saturday at Jerlow Field and will play for a state title next week.

“When my brother was in high school and I was still in junior high, this is what I dreamed of,” Heinrich said. “It's awesome.”

The 6-foot, 170-pound junior running back had three total touchdowns to lift the Vikings to a 51-19 win over the Bulldogs, who ended their season at 10-2.

Kindred will play top-seeded Hillsboro-Central Valley for the Class 11B state title at 11:45 a.m. Friday, Nov. 12, at the Fargodome. The No. 2 seed Vikings will get a chance to avenge their lone loss this season in the Dakota Bowl, a 26-20 loss to H-CV in Week 2 of the regular season. Both squads enter the state championship game with identical 11-1 records.

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“Ever since freshman year I've had this on my mind, and so have all the guys,” senior quarterback Max McQuillan said. “We've been really good in the past but we've always been just a little bit short. It feels good to finally go there, but we still have one more game left and we know that.”

The 6-foot-5, 190-pound McQuillan accounted for four total touchdowns on Saturday.

Kindred missed the state championship by five points last season. The sting of that loss motivated the Vikings throughout the offseason, McQuillan said. The Vikings, who are seeking their first state title, will be making their second Dakota Bowl appearance in program history next Friday. Kindred advanced to the state championship for the first time in 2016.

“We've battled all through the playoffs to get here and we beat a really good Bowman County team,” Kindred head coach Matt Crane said. “To do it on our home field and in front of our fans was just so special.”

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Kindred football players bow down to Jordyn Sunram, the team’s senior kicker who tacked on all seven extra points for the Vikings on Saturday in Kindred’s Class 11B state semifinal victory over Bowman County. Carissa Wigginton / The Forum

After squeaking by in their first two games this postseason by a combined five points, the Vikings opened Saturday’s game with three unanswered touchdowns and 23 straight points. Kindred dominated from start to finish, racking up 413 total yards of offense, broken down to 255 on the ground and 158 through the air, while limiting Bowman County to 196.

The Vikings unleashed a dynamic attack to put the game away by halftime. Kindred picked up a safety on a blocked punt on the game's opening drive and got on the board again two plays later after McQuillan hit Maxwell Opgrand for a 34-yard touchdown strike. Heinrich added to the lead with a pair of touchdown runs of 1 and 2 yards. Bowman County’s defensive front was no match for Kindred’s offensive line.

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The Bulldogs went three-and-out in their first three possessions against a stingy Kindred defense.

“It was perfect,” Crane said of his team’s fast start. “We wanted that momentum right out the gate. We got that blocked punt and got in the end zone right away, it was exactly what we wanted.”

The Bulldogs scored their first points of the game after a blocked punt set them up at the Kindred 23-yard line. Six plays and less than two minutes later, senior quarterback Quaid Lardy found Clay Heimer on a screen pass for a 9-yard touchdown.

The Vikings had the final say of the first half on a 41-yard touchdown catch by Carter Schmitz that gave Kindred a decisive 30-6 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs gained momentum with the second-quarter touchdown and continued that to start the second half after they forced Kindred to punt on its opening possession. But the momentum was soon erased when Heinrich visited the end zone for a third time on a 39-yard catch and run on the first play of Kindred's second possession in the second half.

“The O-line and D-line absolutely dominated,” McQuillan said. “They got the job done up there so our run game was awesome and then we could go to the pass when we needed to.”

But Bowman County, in its second semifinal appearance since the co-op's inception in 2006, didn't go away quietly. They strung together a quick five-play drive on the ensuing series, capped off by a 33-yard touchdown reception by Heimer.

Kylan Swenson punched in a 10-yard touchdown for Kindred four plays later. Bowman County answered on the next drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Bishop Duffield to cut into Kindred's lead 14 seconds into the fourth quarter.

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McQuillan provided the Vikings dagger, running for a 17-yard touchdown that provided the final score.

K 16 14 14 7—51

BC 0 6 7 6—19

K — Safety
K — Opgrand 34 pass from McQuillan (Sunram kick)
K — Heinrich 2 run (Sunram kick)
K — Heinrich 1 run (Sunram kick)
BC — Heimer 9 pass from Lardy (Meschke kick blocked)
K — Schmitz 41 pass from McQuillan (Sunram kick)
K — Heinrich 39 pass from McQuillan (Sunram kick)
BC — Heimer 33 pass from Lardy (Meschke kick)
K — Swenson 10 run (Sunram kick)
BC — Duffield 1 run (Meschke kick failed)
K — McQuillan 17 run (Sunram kick)
Related Topics: FOOTBALL
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