KILLDEER -- North Prairie senior running back Michael McAtee has had some big games this season, but none bigger than this. Behind a 350-yard performance from McAtee, fourth-ranked North Prairie advanced to the Class A state semifinals with a 35-...
KILLDEER -- North Prairie senior running back Michael McAtee has had some big games this season, but none bigger than this.
Behind a 350-yard performance from McAtee, fourth-ranked North Prairie advanced to the Class A state semifinals with a 35-20 victory over No. 2 Killdeer Saturday at the Killdeer High School football field.
North Prairie, which made the transition to Class A from nine-man this year, travels to top-ranked Harvey on Saturday.
"They're a lot like Killdeer," McAtee said of Harvey. "We can take them if we stick to our assignments and do our jobs."
Nobody has to worry about McAtee doing his job. Just ask Killdeer.
The 6-foot, 200-pounder was unstoppable in both halves, albeit at different phases of the game.
Though he managed just eight carries for 46 yards in the first half, he was a big part of the passing game. McAtee had five catches for 95 yards in the first half and finished with six for 98 in the game.
Not bad for someone who had just six catches for 67 yards on the season.
"This game, we decided to use him," Zinke said. "They didn't send anyone with him (in coverage)."
McAtee's catches helped North Prairie keep it close with Killdeer in the first half as the Cowboys held a 14-12 halftime advantage.
"We made some changes," Zinke said.
It certainly showed, especially in McAtee's game.
After throwing the ball 17 times in the first half, the Cougars went back to their bread-and-butter - the ground game.
McAtee racked up 206 yards on 17 carries in the second half including a 69-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to help put the game away. It was this third TD of the game and his 28th of the season.
It ended up being 252 yards on 25 carries for McAtee, who is headed to North Dakota State next fall. It was his fifth straight 200-yard game and his second-best rushing effort of the season. He has 1,918 rushing yards on the year.
"He's the best running back in the state, (including) triple A or double A," Zinke said. "He's the real deal."
In the third quarter, the Cougars stopped Killdeer and got good field position on a punt. With just 46 yards to go for the touchdown, North Prairie marched down the field and took the lead when McAtee scored from 7 yards out.
After a Killdeer three-and-out, North Prairie used an eight-play, 78-yard drive to add to its lead. McAtee, again, capped the drive, this time scoring on a 26-yard scamper.
"I think McAtee played pretty darn well," Killdeer coach Chuck Wagner said. "They attacked our outside shoulders and pushed us backwards. We have to give them credit for that."
North Prairie quarterback Tommy Zinke had an outstanding game. He finished 15 of 21 for 171 yards and a pair of TD passes.
Killdeer struggled to get going on offense in the second half, gaining just 72 yards. Killdeer quarterback Mike Wagner completed just 7 of 18 passes for 122 yards, two TDs and two interceptions. Junior running back Josh Karey led Killdeer on the ground with 74 yards on 18 carries.
"It comes down to mistakes," Wagner said. "I was happy with our effort. I was happy with our play, early on. In the second half, (North Prairie) got rolling."