Warriors enter 8AA playoffs on a roll
A five-game winning streak to end the season gave the United North Central football team a home playoff game for the first time in school history.
The Warriors capped off the regular season with a thrilling 26-20 double-overtime victory over Upsala/Swanville Area Tuesday night at Swanville. That victory gave UNC a 6-2 record and the No. 4 seed for the Section 8AA playoffs. UNC will host No. 5 Warroad Tuesday night at 6 at Sebeka in a section quarterfinal game.
"This is our first home playoff game in the history of UNC football," said Warriors' head coach Jeremy Nordick. "We are also looking to get our first playoff win in UNC history. A lot is at stake coming up Tuesday."
A lot was at stake in the regular-season finale Tuesday night at Swanville as the Warriors attempted to lock up sole possession of first place in the Prairie North Conference.
USA took an 8-0 lead after the first quarter on a 27-yard pass from Brandon Welinski to Chris Ripplinger.
Kasey Tyge's 2-yard pass to Luke Hendrickson in the second quarter made it 8-6 at the half.
A 34-yard pass from Welinski to Ripplinger gave USA a 14-6 lead in the fourth quarter before Tyge hit Alex Brockpahler on a 2-yard TD route and followed with the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14-14 at the end of regulation.
A 2-yard TD pass from Welinski to Ripplinger gave USA a 20-14 lead before Tyge's 8-yard TD run tied the game to force a second overtime.
Tyge's 2-yard TD run in the second overtime proved to be the game-winner as UNC's defense held.
Tyge completed 14 of 24 passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 12 times for 13 yards and two scores to pace the Warriors' offense, which finished with only 216 yards. Tom Gruchow rushed 17 times for 72 yards while Brockpahler had six receptions for 29 yards. Hendrickson, Joey Cuperus and Derek Pihlaja also caught two passes each.
Defensively, Hendrickson was in on 15 tackles while John Clark had 14 tackles. Gruchow intercepted a pass for the only turnover as USA fell to 5-3.
"Winning the conference title was one of goals that we set to start the season. The thing about these guys is they want more," said Nordick. "Our seniors have worked very hard to have this opportunity and we want to take advantage of it. We're going to need a great week of practice and prepare for Warroad."