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Running game carries Underwood to state

FARGO - Underwood running back Coy Thorson ran his team to its third straight state football tournament. He gained 231 yards and scored two touchdowns as the Rockets won the Minnesota 9-man, Section 4 championship, defeating Fergus Falls Hillcres...

Coy Thorson of Underwood runs against Hillcrest during the Minnesota 9-man Section 4 football championship Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in the Fargodome.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Coy Thorson of Underwood runs against Hillcrest during the Minnesota 9-man Section 4 football championship Friday, Oct. 23, 2015, in the Fargodome.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

FARGO - Underwood running back Coy Thorson ran his team to its third straight state football tournament. He gained 231 yards and scored two touchdowns as the Rockets won the Minnesota 9-man, Section 4 championship, defeating Fergus Falls Hillcrest 28-23 on Friday at the Fargodome.

"He's a player," Underwood head coach Chuck Ross said. "He's got some deceptive speed. He's unbelievably quick. He sees things well and he's able to cut back. He's a state champion bull rider. It almost looks like sometimes he's running from a bull, that's what we tease him. He's special."

Despite gaining more than twice the total yards as the Comets, Underwood was not able to pull away, but came up with plays when they counted. Hillcrest had the ball inside its own 10-yard line with time for one more play in the final seconds. Quarterback Sean McGuire, who passed for 172 yards and two touchdowns, dropped back to pass, but no receivers were open right away and pressure from the Rockets defensive line forced him to scramble left where they were able to corral him after a short gain.

"Really give credit to the defensive line," Ross said.

Underwood rushed for 341 yards and dominated time of possession. The Comets ran only three plays in the first quarter and did not run their fourth play until nine minutes into the second. Thorson led the running attack with 31 carries and was still running strong at the end, showing no signs of fatigue.

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"We can go again," Thorson said. "We'll go some more. I'm ready for it."

The Rockets supplemented Thorson's carries with 15 by Dylan Kalenze, whose 18th birthday was Friday. He ran for 84 yards and scored Underwood's first two touchdowns.

"Coy set me up," Kalenze said. "Coy got the long runs and let me run it right in. It's my birthday-good presents."

Hillcrest was able to stay in the game by forcing turnovers on defense and solid special teams play. The Comets forced two fumbles, one of which was returned 77 yards for a touchdown by Kevin Thorkildsen. Kicker Jordan Foss consistently kicked the ball into the end zone for touchbacks, which forced Underwood to sustain long drives to score. He also hit a 46-yard field goal in the third quarter.

With the section championship win, Underwood is looking ahead to the state tournament where it will face Section 3 champ Madelia next Friday in Morris, Minn.

"Madelia has a QB that is the real deal," Ross said. "He can throw it around. Like I told our guy we had down there-I can't imagine he's gonna be that much better than McGuire. Sean is the best throwing quarterback we've faced. It was great to play this game in preparation for next week if that's what Madelia does."

U 0 8 8 12-28

H 7 7 3 6-23

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H-Thorkildson 77 fumble recovery (Foss kick)

U-Kalenze 1 run (Thorson run)

H-Tungseth 12 pass from McGuire (Foss kick)

H-Foss 46 field goal

U-Kalenze 10 run (Thorson run)

U-Thorson 40 run (run failed)

U-Thorson 4 run (run failed)

H-Frustol 7 pass from McGuire (pass failed)

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INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: U, Thorson 31-223, Kalenze 15-84, Kugler 3-10, Masloski 6-23, Schleske 2-1. H, Undseth 2-13, Tungseth 5-1, K. Newman 4-13, McGuire 6-35.

PASSING: U, Masloski 3-3-0 23 yards. H, McGuire 18-28-0 172 yards.

RECEIVING: U, Kugler 1-1, Biegler 1-10, Thormodson 1-12. H, Newman 7-72, Undseth 4-48, Erickson 2-7, Tungseth 3-29, Frustol 1-7.

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