Richland tops North Prairie in 9-man state title game
FARGO -- There was a play Richland football players were begging first-year head coach John Freeman to run all year. Freeman preached patience and didn't give in. He wanted to save it. With his Colts squad locked in a tie with North Prairie in th...
FARGO - There was a play Richland football players were begging first-year head coach John Freeman to run all year.
Freeman preached patience and didn’t give in. He wanted to save it.
With his Colts squad locked in a tie with North Prairie in the final minute of the North Dakota 9-man state championship on Friday at the Fargodome, Freeman decided to call up Richland’s version of the hook-and-ladder.
Senior quarterback Brady Heyen completed a 13-yard pass to junior Cooper Lingen, who pitched the ball to senior receiver Travor Flaa to take it the remaining 45 yards for the game-winning touchdown of Richland’s 44-38 championship victory.
We call it the ‘Coop and Travor’ play,” said Flaa, who scored two touchdowns in the game. “We had it in our back pocket the whole year and saved it for a time we actually needed it. We have been asking to run it almost every game, but coach said we’d save it for a certain time. That time came (Friday).”
Flaa’s touchdown came with 41.2 seconds left. Perfect timing.
“It was something we have been running in practice all year,” Freeman said. “The kids were begging me to run it. I kept telling them there would be a time and place to run it. That was the right time I thought and it worked.”
Officially Heyen is credited with a touchdown pass on the play - his fifth of the day, which tied a Dakota Bowl record. Lingen was credited with a 13-yard reception and Flaa receives 45 yards receiving, but no reception.
“I thought we executed it well,” Lingen said. “Brady was getting a little pressure and he under threw it a little bit, but I was able to get and drop it off to Travor. After he got the afterburners turned on I knew he was going to get in.”
The play that ended with so much elation started with a fumble by Heyen.
“The execution of Cooper and Travor was great, but I fumbled the snap so I didn’t know what was going to happen after that,” said Heyen, who finished with 248 yards passing. “We knew we could get it in because we practiced so much. It was so exciting.”
Flaa and Lingen combined for 175 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Junior running back Jake Ihland rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown.
North Prairie (11-1) trailed by as many as 16 points twice in the game and tied the game 38-38 with 54 seconds left when junior tight end Brody Cahill hauled in a 17 yard touchdown pass from Jalen Pfeifer.
“We gave it a go,” North Prairie head coach Terry Motl said. “I had faith in this team. It never felt like we were out of it. The kids dug deep, stepped up and made it happen.”
Richland’s postseason included defeating four ranked opponents in consecutive weeks. The No. 3-ranked Colts defeated No. 2 Cavalier in the second round, No. 1 Thompson in the quarterfinals, No. 4 Bismarck Shiloh Christian in the semifinals and the No. 5 ranked Cougars in the title game.
NP 0 16 6 16 -- 38
R 16 6 16 6 -- 44
R--T. Flaa 36 pass from Heyen (Ihland run)
R--Lingen 41 pass from Heyen (T. Flaa pass from Heyen)
NP--Pfeifer 27 run (B. Leonard pass from Pfeifer)
R--D. Flaa 14 pass from Heyen (pass failed)
NP--B. Leonard 33 pass from Pfeifer (pass failed)
NP--G. Leonard 4 pass from Pfeifer (pass failed)
R--Lingen 40 pass from Heyen (Ihland run)
R--Ihland 38 run (Ihland run)
NP--Cahill 26 pass from Pfeifer (Cahill pass from Pfeifer)
NP--Cahill 17 pass from Pfeifer (Pfeifer run)