Playoff picture in focus
A win against the Bottineau Braves got the Rugby Panthers into the playoffs.
A win against the Harvey-Wells County Hornets decided their playoff destiny.
In the first round of Class A 11-man football playoffs, Rugby who is the third seed in Region 2 will take on the Kindred Vikings who are the second seed in Region 1 on the road.
“Kindred is a very good team,” said Panthers football coach Travis Risovi. “They have good team size and are very athletic.”
If the Panthers win today, they take on whomever wins the matchup between the Region 2 No. 1-seed Langdon Area-Edmore-Munich Cardinals and the Region 1 No. 4-seed Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm Thunder.
The Hornets meanwhile play the Burros of Hillsboro-Central Valley in Hillsboro. The winner of that matchup will take on the winner of the matchup between Carrington and Milnor-North Sargent.
Game time between Rugby and Kindred is at 2 p.m.
Panthers outlast Hornets
To get the No. 3-seed, the Panthers had to win against the Hornets.
And a win they got, with two second half scores over their opponent’s one.
“We played hard for the entire game and had the will to win,” said Risovi.
The Hornets got one on the Panthers early. After a carry from runner Elliot Dockter for no gain, Hornets running back Carsen Mertz took the ball for an 80-yard score for their first and only score of the game with just over 11 minutes left in the first quarter.
Both teams would be scoreless for the second quarter, with drives ending in either punts or turnovers on downs.
The Panthers would have something going their way after the Hornets were forced to punt away their first drive of the second half. Two of the three Vetschs, Keith and Kevin, would carry the ball into Hornets territory.
The Panthers would get a gift on 4th down and 2, with the Hornets going offsides. However the Panthers would be pushed back five yards on a false start penalty.
Three carries by Keith Vetsch would follow three pass attempts from quarterback Jaden Hamilton, one of which wasn’t complete. Of the three carries, one would get the Panthers on the board.
The Hornets’ ensuing drive which continued into the fourth quarter would be bit by the penalty bug, including costly unsportsmanlike conduct and holding penalties. They would get a gift via a pass interference call on the Panther defense, but an incomplete pass on the next play forced the Hornets to punt away.
The punt landed on the 47-yard line.
And on the first play of the drive, Keith Vetsch struck again on a 53-yard scoring run.
“We need to capitalize on good field position and we can not make mistakes,” said Risovi.
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