Heartbreaker: Wolves top Jays in state quarterfinals
Elijah Brown's two catches made all the difference.
The Watford City sophomore reeled in the only touchdown of the afternoon and intercepted Jamestown's Tommy Falk in the final two minutes of Saturday's Class AA state quarterfinal football game at Ernie Gates Field.
Watford City (7-3) held on to defeat Jamestown 6-3 and will head to Fargo this Saturday to face the Shanley Deacons in the state semifinals. The Blue Jays' first season in AA football came to a close at 6-4.
"You win football games as a team, you lose football games as a team," Jamestown coach Bill Nelson said. "Credit to Watford City. They made one more play than we did."
Brown jumped an out route on a fourth-and-nine from the Watford City 32-yard line, notching the game-winning interception with 1 minute, 16 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Falk was attempting to complete his sixth pass of the drive, which started back on Jamestown's 5-yard line with 4:45 left to play.
"They ran outs the entire game on like fourth-and-shorter," Brown said. "This was fourth-and-nine, but I figured they'd come back to it and I just jumped it."
Jamestown's final drive started by going backward. A chop block penalty put 95 yards between Jamestown and Watford City's end zone, but Falk and the Jays went down swinging.
The sophomore quarterback passed to senior Aaron Bredeson for 35 yards, found junior Jared Kallenbach for 7-and 6-yard strikes, and hit senior Jared Harr for 14 more. But after driving all the way to Watford City's 33 a 15-yard personal foul called on the Jays burst the balloon.
Falk did manage to connect with junior Marcus Hochhalter for 21 yards through the air on a third-and-30, placing the ball at the Wolves' 32. But Brown stole the show, and the game, on the very next play.
Jamestown dismantled an injured and winded Watford City team 43-6 at Ernie Gates field in the second game of the season on Sept. 1. Watford City plays eight two-way starters.
"It just really goes to show the heart of our kids," Watford City coach Justin Johnsrud said. "It wasn't really anything us coaches were doing, or anything else. It's just them picking themselves up off the ground and going play-after-play-after-play."
Jamestown scored on the game's opening drive, taking the ball 59 yards in 12 plays and capping the drive with a 31-yard field goal by senior Connor Fuchs. The Wolves answered at the end of the half, going 80 yards in the final 49 seconds.
The backbreaking play of the drive was a 38-yard pass completed to Watford City senior tight end Jaydn Ewing from junior quarterback Hunter Schwartzenberger. Schwartzenberger later found Brown in the east corner of Ernie Gates' south end zone for an 18-yard touchdown completion as time expired in the half.
Schwartzenberger completed 8 of 16 passing attempts for 136 yards. Falk completed 13 of 21 attempts for 148 yards.
"Just a bunch of heart and determination," said Ewing, who also sacked Falk three times in the second half. "We've been wanting to beat Jamestown pretty bad for a little while."
Jamestown only possessed the ball four times in the second half, with each of its first three drives ending with a punt. Watford City turned the ball over on downs twice inside the Blue Jay 20-yard line in the second half.
Senior running back Kason Hartel led the Wolves with 90 yards rushing on 15 carries. Harr led Jamestown's backfield with 98 yards on 21 carries.
"We knew they were going to come in with a lot of energy, and they were very physical, which we knew right out of the gates," Nelson said. "But this doesn't discredit anything that happened this year, the success we had and how we moved the program forward.
"The steps that we've taken from last year to this year have been pretty monumental. Next year we take another step."
Watford City 6, Jamestown 3
WC 0 6 0 0 -- 6
JAM 3 0 0 0 -- 3
J, Connor Fuchs 31 field goal, 6:14.
WC, Elijah Brown 18 pass from Hunter Schwartzenberger (Carter Zenz run failed), 0:00.
PASSING: WC, Schwartzenberger 8-16-0 136 yards, 1 TD; Cooper Knutson 0-5-0. J, Tommy Falk 13-21-1 148 yards; Jared Harr 0-1-0.
RUSHING: WC, Kason Hartel 15-90, Carter Zenz 5-31, Connor Dennis 5-25, Schwartzenberger 4-7, Knutson 6-(-8). J, Harr 21-98, Zach Petrek 10-38, Brandon Dallmann 3-11, Aaron Mack 1-0, Aaron Bredeson 1-(-5), Falk 6-(-29).
RECEIVING: WC, Brett Skarda 5-76, Jaydn Ewing 1-38, Elijah Brown 1-18, Hartel 1-4. J, Jared Kallenbach 5-60, Bredeson 1-35, Marcus Hochhalter 2-26, John Horgan 2-21, Harr 1-14, Petrek 1-(-2), Dallmann 1-(-6).
SACKS: WC, Ewing 3. J, Fuchs 1, Tate Orr 1.
INTERCEPTIONS: WC, Brown 1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: WC, Hartel 1; J, Harr 1.
PENALTIES: WC, 4/30 yards. J, 5/25 yards.
RECORDS: Watford City 7-3; Jamestown 6-4.