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High School Football: Warriors big fourth quarter leads them to win over Spuds

Brainerd traveled to Moorhead Friday, Sept. 9.

Brainerd football against Moorhead
Brainerd’s Nolan Johnson gets tackled by Moorhead’s Karson Wendt during their season opener game on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, at Jim Gotta Field.
Alyssa Goelzer/The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Brainerd knew how to respond Friday, Sept. 9.

After Moorhead scored on a 1-yard sneak to take a 10-7 lead late in the third quarter, the Warriors scored 20 fourth-quarter points to grab their first win of the season 27-10 over the Spuds in a North Central Red Subdistrict game.

“We’ve learned a lot about ourselves in the last two weeks,” Warriors head coach Jason Freed said. “What I’m super happy about is how we overcame obstacles this week. Our kids came ready to play and that’s excellent senior leadership and that’s young men being focused on the play at hand.”

The Warriors scored touchdowns on their last three drives. Quarterback Marcello Getty kept the ball on a read option and ran 26 yards for the touchdown to give the Warriors the lead back with 7:35 left.

“It was a great read by Marcello,” Freed said. “He did a great job. They were adjusting to our run game and Marcello made a great play and that’s a sign of maturity.”

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Jake Merseth gained 13 yards on a catch and throw from Getty on fourth and two the play prior to Getty’s scamper.

Brainerd’s defense then forced a three and out to get the ball back at midfield.

The Warriors went 50 yards on three plays capped by a Dylan Gross 3-yard run to take a 21-10 lead with 5:54 left.

Damien Bentho ran 36 yards to set up Gross’s touchdown.

Bentho then got his touchdown to cap off his 184-yard rushing day on a 12-yard run with 2:34 left.

“Moorhead has two big defensive tackles that worried us a lot and I thought our O-line played one of the best games in five or six years,” Freed said. “We got off the ball. We were pushing people around. Damien ran hard and Sean Holbrook ran hard. And the O-line is coming together.”

Bentho added: “My O-line was just performing really, really well tonight. The holes were huge. The cuts were there. I couldn’t do it without them.”

Kade Stengrim picked off Spud quarterback Gavin Quade to end Moorhead’s drive before Bentho’s touchdown.

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Sean Holbrook intercepted the ball in the end zone with six seconds left to secure Brainerd’s first win over the Spuds since 2018.

“This win shows that we can play with anyone,” Bentho said. “This will boost our confidence and show that we can play against anyone in our (district).”

Quade finished with 313 yards on 27-of-48 passing. Owen Thielges caught 13 passes for 149 yards to lead the Spuds. The Spuds did outgain Brainerd 403-283.

Freed said the pressure the defensive line was able to apply was a big key in the second half.

“Our D-line played awesome,” Freed said. “We were down a couple of guys tonight and Mitch Wind, Caleb Lange and Eli Wiskow the whole troops got after it. Mitch Wind, half of his jersey was ripped off and he just kept battling all night long. Him and Caleb played both ways all night.”

The Warriors won the turnover battle 3-0.

After the Warriors punted on their first drive, Moorhead used a 47-yard catch by DJ Smith to set up a 30-yard field goal by Revar Qaqos with 3:51 left in the first quarter.

Brainerd responded by using most of Bentho’s 94 first-half rushing yards to get inside the Spuds’ 5-yard line.

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It was Sean Holbrook on a counter play who ran in a 5-yard touchdown to give the Warriors a 7-3 lead with 29 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Spuds reached the Warriors’ 19-yard line before an incomplete pass on fourth and nine gave the ball back to Brainerd.

Brainerd reached Moorhead territory before pinning the Spuds inside the 10 with a punt.

The Spuds, aided by a pass interference penalty, looked to put points on the board before the half.

On fourth and seven, Ryan Kennedy picked off Quade right before half and the Warriors went into the locker room leading by four.

Despite trailing, the Spuds outgained the Warriors 206-150 in the first half.

Freed credited the defense in getting stops in key spots in both halves.

“We live by the mantra that you have to bend, but don’t break,” he said. “And that was the first half. They would move the ball, but we settled down. We’ve had a lot of experience the last two weeks on defense and I think the kids figured out how to be sound and disciplined on defense.”

Brainerd returns home next week against Sartell. However, Freed is going to enjoy his first win as head coach over the Spuds.

“It’s going to be a good ride home,” he said.

Brainerd 7 0 0 20 — 27

Moorhead 3 0 7 0 — 10

First quarter

M-Revar Qaqos 30-yard field goal 3:51

Brd-Sean Holbrook 5-yard run (Bennett Berander) 0:29

Third quarter

M-Gavin Quade 1-yard run (Qaqos kick) 1:28

Fourth quarter

Brd-Marcello Getty 26-yard run (Berander kick) 7:35

Brd-Dylan Gross 3-yard run (Berander kick) 5:54

Brd-Damien Bentho 12-yard run (kick failed) 2:34

Team statistics

Rushes-yards: Brd 39-258, M 24-90

Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 4-5-25, M 27-48-3-313

Total offense: Brd 44-283, M 72-403

Individual leaders

Rushing: Brd-Damen Bentho 26-184, Marcello Getty 4-29, Sean Holbrok 2-23, Eli Hoelz 2-14, Dilon McLaughlin 1-14, Dylan Haar 1-3, Dylan Gross 1-3; M-Ben Hrdlicka 9-59, Karson Wendt 10-28

Passing: Brd-Macrello Getty 4-5-25; M-Gavin Quade 27-48-313

Receiving: Brd-Jake Merseth 2-18, Nolan Johnson 1-5, Damien Bentho 1-2; M-Owen Thielges 13-149, DJ Smith 5-88, Michael Haugo 8-58

Warriors 27, Moorhead 10

Key: Damien Bentho rushes for 184 yards in the Warriors win

Subdistrict: Brd 1-0, M 0-1

Overall: Brd 1-2, M 1-1.

Next: Brainerd hosts Sartell 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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