Wolves pick up win over Turtle Mountain Braves
By Neal A. Shipman
With Watford City needing to win two of its remaining three games in order to make the Class AA football playoffs, the Wolves picked up a big win on Friday defeating the Turtle Mountain Braves, 40-8. Watford City, which is 5-2 on the season, hosts Dickinson Trinity this Wednesday, and then closes out it regular season play against Beulah on Oct. 24.
“We ran the ball well on Friday in Belcourt,” states Justin Johnsrud, Wolves’ head coach. “Our offensive line did a good job of getting to their assignments and maintaining blocks. They opened up some big holes for our running backs. It all starts up front and I was happy to see our offensive line perform well headed into the last two games of the regular season.”
Keegan Thompson got the Wolves on the scoreboard in the first quarter as he scampered into the end zone on a 12-yard run. Brandon Sandvik would up Watford City’s lead to 14-0 just 32 seconds later on a 20-yard run.
Watford City’s offense would score three more times in the second quarter with Sandvik scoring on a 48-yard run, before Thompson connected on a 10-yard pass to Jonathon Dunn. A 63-yard pass from Bo Cook to Dalton Wright capped off Watford City’s first half scoring to give the Wolves a dominating, 33-0, lead.
Turtle Mountain would finally get on the scoreboard midway through the third quarter, but Watford City would answer with a 38-yard touchdown run by Kyle Cook to secure the win for the Wolves.
“Defensively, we played assignment football,” states Johnsrud. “Belcourt had a difficult time generating any offense for much of the night. Their lone score was the result of an interception returned to our 10-yard line. We kept them out of the end zone, and stopped them on fourth down. But a face mask penalty gave them first and goal from the one-yard line and they were able to punch it in. We responded well after their score by driving the ball down the field for our final score of the game.”
The win over the Braves was a big morale victory for the Wolves after Watford City lost its last two games to Minot and Bismarck St. Mary’s.
“I was proud of our team’s effort after a couple of losses,” stated Johnsrud. “The attitude and effort were there, and we limited the mental mistakes and turnovers that have hurt us in the past two games. It was good to build some momentum as we head into our last two regular season games.”
With the Wolves needing just one more win to earn themselves a berth in the playoffs, Johnsrud says that this Wednesday’s game against Dickinson Trinity will be a critical one for his team.
Dickinson Trinity is a good football team that has lost close games to the top teams in the region,” states Johnsrud. “They have a very good quarterback who can hurt you with his arm or his legs. We will need a total team effort to be successful on Wednesday night.”
With both Watford City and Dickinson Trinity needing just one more win to keep their post season drives alive, Johnsrud says Wednesday’s game will be hard-fought.
“Wednesday’s game is a big game for both teams,” states Johnsrud. “A win would guarantee a spot in the playoffs, while a loss would put our fate is someone else’s hands.”
Watford City, who led the Braves in total yardage by a 342 to 69 yard margin, was led by Sandvik, who rushed for 143 yards on 13 carries, while Thompson gained 57 yards on 10 carries.
Dalton Wright led Watford City defensively with six tackles, while Clay Jorgenson and Brenden Leaming each had an interception.
1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Turtle Mountain 0 0 8 0 8
Watford City 14 19 7 0 40