Turnovers hurt the Mahnomen-Waubun Thunderbirds early in the game. The turnover they forced late ultimately won them the Class A state championship.
Down by one point with under three minutes to play, BOLD (13-1) had driven the ball inside the Thunderbirds’ 10-yard line. The Warriors tried to run off tackle, but Mahnomen/Waubun’s Jayden Heisler forced and recovered a fumble to give the ball back to his offense.
One first down later, the Thunderbirds (13-0) had the state title with a 22-21 win.
The Thunderbirdgs got their running game going early in the opening quarter, but BOLD’s Riley Weis made two plays behind the line of scrimmage – one resulting in a fumble that his teammate Hayden Tersteeg was able to recover at midfield.
BOLD would take advantage with a 50-yard touchdown drive and a 6-0 lead.
The Thunderbirds answered right back with quarterback Jon Starkey using his arm and his legs. He scored on a one-yard run, but his earlier runs and his seam route he completed to a leaping Treston Spalla keyed the drive.
Tied at 6, BOLD’s Jordan Sagedahl came up with two great plays through the air on the next drive, including a perfect pass to Gavin Vosika for a 50-yard touchdown. The two-point pass to Vosika made the score 14-6 BOLD late in the first quarter.
Behind the legs of Parker Syverson and the option game, Mahnomen/Waubun answered right back. He scored a short touchdown and the two-point play to tie the game at 14.
The back and forth game continued with Sagehahl using his arm to convert a third and long to Ryan. Then Sagehahl used his legs around the corner to get inside the ten. Sagedahl finished the drive with a short touchdown run. The extra point gave BOLD a 21-14 lead that the Warriors would take into the half.
The defenses continued to dominate the second half, but the Thunderbirds continued to gamble — and convert — on 4th down. From their own 38, Starkey first converted a quarterback sneak for the first down.
Faced with a third and long later in the drive, Syverson broke a tackle and dragged three tacklers for a first down. A penalty moved the ball inside the Warriors 20.
Starkey finished off the drive with his second touchdown run — a nine-yarder. The two-point conversion run around the corner for Syverson gave Mahnomen/Waubun – which is in the first year of a co-op – a 22-21 lead.
A short kickoff gave BOLD the ball near mid-field. A pass from Sagedahl to Ryan on an out route started the drive with a first down. Sagedahl scrambled to pick up another first down to the thirty. BOLD would convert a fourth down of their own to set up the Thunderbirds’ Heisler and the play of the game.
Syverson would finish the game with 190 yards rushing, one touchdown, two two-point conversion runs. He also added an interception in the 22-21 victory.