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North Prairie’s season ends in semifinal round

By Staff | Nov 12, 2009

North Prairie entered its Class A semifinal playoff game with Langdon-Munich focused on stopping L-M’s standout running back Jon Dinius.

Well, the Cougars kept No. 20 out of the end zone, but it was L-M’s converted full back to- quarterback that was the difference maker.

Travis Beck, who moved to the QB position late in the season, scored a pair of touchdowns in the second half and then made two big-time tackles on defense to to help preserve the Cardinals’ 12-7 victory on Nov. 7 in Langdon.

“It was little mistakes that hurt us,” said NP coach Davy Zinke.

L-M (10-1) faced Velva (10-1) of Region 3 in the Class A championship on Friday, Nov. 13.

The win over Region 2 foe North Prairie (Rolla-Rolette-Rock Lake-Wolford) was the Cardinals second in three weeks.

They managed once again to hold down the Cougars’ offense, keeping them to just one score and shutting them out in the second half in both contests. Playoff games are often decided at the line of scrimmage and L-M’s line play was certainly the difference in the final two quarters.

However, it was NP which was dominating the line of scrimmage earlier in the contest. Senior running back Michael Bonn was the beneficiary of some big holes on the Cougars’ first possession. He carried the ball all but one play. He capped off the drive with an eight yard TD run. Bonn ran a sweep to the left and then cut up field near the sideline and into the end zone. Jon Rush’s point after kick staked NP to a 7-0 lead.

NP’s defense played strong in the first half, preventing big runs from L-M’s Dinius, but the squad had to contend with an injury to lineman Jeff Decoteau. His absence was noticeable in the second half.

“That was a huge loss,’ Zinke said. “He’s a big motivator on the field.”

The Cougars were on the move on offense in the second half, but an interception ended the drive and provided a spark for L-M. The pass deflected off the intended NP receiver’s shoulder pads and into the L-M defender’s hands.

The Cardinals finally found the end zone on Beck’s 16-yard run. The two-point conversion, however, failed and NP still led 7-6.

North Prairie decided to go for it on fourth down and four in Cardinal territory, but running back Everett Lervik was dropped in the back field when Beck surged through the line from his inside linebacker position to make the tackle.

The charged-up Cardinals then put together a 12-play, 61-yard drive that used over six minutes on the clock, ending with Beck’s 1-yard TD run. Again, the two-point conversion failed and L-M led 12-7.

Victory was certainly within reach for NP, but facing a fourth down play near midfield it gambled and tried a fake punt. Beck again made the play, tackling punter Taylor Gottbreht who was attempting to run for the first down.

The Cougars never got the ball again as L-M’s offense ran out the clock, using the running duo of Dinius and Beck. Dinius rushed for 224 yards on 40 carries.

Bonn, who rushed for 90 yards in the opening half was kept in check for much of the second, and finished with 124 yards on 24 carries.

Zinke said if his team could have got up by two scores early, it would have changed the complexion of the game, forcing L-M to go the air on offense which may have played in the hands of the Cougars’ defense.

It’s a tough end for North Prairie (9-2) which reached the Class A semifinals for the second time in three seasons. However, that elusive first trip to the championship will have to wait at least one more year.

“I can’t say enough about our seniors and the job they did,” Zinke said.

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