Opening up the playoffs, on Oct. 25, the Fergus Falls Otters football team were on the road in Section 8AAA quarterfinals, at Thief River Falls. The Prowlers took control of the game in the second quarter, on their way to a 33-14 victory, setting themselves up with a semifinal contest with Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
Thief River received the opening kickoff but was forced to punt on a three and out. Fergus received the punt and started their first offensive possession on their own 37 yard line.
Riding the legs of Griffin Babolian, the Otters moved the ball down the field and got a 23 yard touchdown run from the junior, who carried the ball four times for 44 yards on the drive. Jaydon Manteufel added the extra point and the visiting Otters led 7-0 in the first quarter.
The Prowlers moved the ball on the ensuing possession, including a 71 yard run by Jake Freidrich. However, a penalty pushed back the Thief to the edge of the red zone and a 35 yard field goal by Brayden Spears was no good. Keeping Fergus in front.
After picking up a first down, Fergus was forced to punt and the host team took over on their own 19 yard line.
Thief River used a long drive, moving the game into the second quarter and capped it off with a 14 yard touchdown pass from Caleb Rosendahl to Freidrich. The point after was good and the game was tied at seven all, with just over six minutes remaining in the half.
The Otters were forced to punt for the second possession in-a-row. Thief would then score for the second time, going 40 yards and getting a one-yard touchdown run from Griffin Lundeen. Spears added the PAT, giving the Prowlers a 14-7 lead late in the first half.
Forcing Fergus to punt, TRF got a 50 yard run by Kadin Grindeland to set them in the red zone and three plays later, Caleb tossed a short pass to Jack Rosendahl for the score. The point after was no good, making it 20-7 Thief in the final minute of the first 24.
On the kickoff, the Prowlers were able to recover the ball and ultimately tried a 44 yard field goal, which was no good. Fergus came out and ran a play, sending the contest into the break.
Opening up the second half with the football, Fergus moved the ball into Prowler territory. Facing a fourth and three, a pass over the middle was incomplete, as Kellen Stenstrom was hit high and no penalty was called. The Otters turned the ball over on downs, inside the Prowler red zone. Thief took over with seven minutes left in the third, still up two scores.
Thief used the momentum of the stop on defense, as they went right down the field and scored on a 24 yard touchdown pass from Caleb to Carter Engebretson. The two point conversion was no good, making it 26-7 and swinging the momentum squarely on the home team side. It was a 92 yard drive after the stop.
A short kickoff gave the Otters good field position at their own 40 yard line. They would pick up a couple of first downs before Levi King fumbled the ball, giving it back to Thief with a few seconds remaining in the third.
Thief then engineered a long scoring drive, taking around six minutes off the game clock and getting a seven yard touchdown run by Friedrich and the point after to go up 33-7.
Once again a short kickoff provided Fergus with solid field position. Babolian ripped off a 33 yard run and then a 15 yarder to bring the ball down to the three yard line. Next play he would walk in for his second score of the game. Manteufel’s XP was good, moving the score to 33-14.
Fergus attempted an onside kick, but was unsuccessful – giving Thief the ball with 4:47 left in the fourth.
Both sides would have possession of the ball, ultimately running down the clock and the Prowlers advanced with a 33-14 win.
“It’s exactly the start we have been looking for since early in the season,” said Otters coach Steve Olson. “Later in the game we were selling out to stop their run game and they were able to find the flats, which was our weakness.”
Babolian finished with 25 carries and 177 yards, with both scores. Fergus finished with 222 total yards of offense.
Thief ran the ball 46 times for 351 yards. Friedrich finished with 15 for 132, Grindeland had 5 for 73, Lundeen went for 19 and 81. The Prowlers finished with 439 total yards of offense. Caleb was 5-8 through the air for 88 yards and three scores.
“There were some special teams plays that disrupted us and were a bit of some crushers,” said Olson. “We thank the seniors for all that they have done and hopefully our younger guys get a sense of how finite that last game is. Hopefully the underclassmen realize what it takes to get things done, especially in the weight room.”
Fergus ended their season with a 2-7 record.
Thief moved above .500 with a 5-4 record. They lost to DGF to start the season, 32-7.