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Cardinals rally in second half for 21-18 victory over Warriors

For the second week in a row, the United North Central football team saw a halftime lead disappear.

Three rushing touchdowns by James Clark gave UNC an 18-7 lead at the break before Staples-Motley rallied with a pair of second-half scores for a 21-18 Midwest Blue District victory at Sebeka on Sept. 29.

The Warriors, who led 8-0 at the half and 14-8 in the third quarter before Pillager rallied for a 22-14 victory in Week 4, expanded a 12-7 lead after the first quarter to 18-7 at the half against Staples-Motley.

Clark opened the scoring with 7:00 to play in the first quarter with a 2-yard TD run before the Cardinals took a 7-6 lead when Chase Davis returned the ensuing kickoff 80 yards and Josh Lombard added the extra-point kick.

Clark's 7-yard TD run at the 2:35 mark gave UNC a 12-7 edge before Clark's 2-yard TD run in the second quarter pushed the lead to 18-7.

Lombard's 1-yard TD run cut the gap to 18-13 with 5:15 to play in the third quarter before Lombard hit Mason Nyhus on a 25-yard scoring route for the game-winning score with 9:22 to play. Dalton Hoemberg ran in the conversion to conclude the scoring.

Staples-Motley managed 213 yards in offense as Cade Schmidt rushed nine times for 98 yards and Lombard completed 6 of 13 passes for 83 yards. Griffin Webster caught two passes for 47 yards as the Cardinals improved to 2-1 in the district and 2-3 overall.

Clark rushed 28 times for 113 yards and completed 6 of 13 passes for 78 yards as the Warriors fell to 2-2 in district play and 3-2 overall. Owen Anderson added 72 yards on 20 carries while Jack Lillquist caught five passes for 68 yards as UNC finished with 293 yards in offense.

Anderson's five tackles and Caleb Mostrom's four tackles led the defense while Clark's interception accounted for Staples-Motley's lone turnover.

"It was a very tough loss. For the second week in a row, we've come out strong but stalled out in the second half," said UNC head coach Jeremy Nordick. "We've had a couple of bad breaks in the injury department, but there's still no excuse for us not to come out and execute the game plan. I'm not exactly sure how we've lost our focus at halftime, but coming out with fire in the second half will certainly be an objective from here on out."

In the other Week 5 district games, Ottertail Central routed Long Prairie-Grey Eagle 43-0, Pillager defeated West Central Area 42-12 and Wadena-Deer Creek lost to Pelican Rapids 36-22. OTC tops the district standings with a 4-0 record while Pillager is 3-1. Following Staples-Motley and UNC is West Central Area at 1-2. LP-GE and W-DC fell to 0-4.

Barnesville and Hawley top the Section 8AA standings at 5-0 following Barnesville's 54-6 win over Roseau and Hawley's 44-26 victory over Breckenridge. Warroad is 5-1 after a 21-14 loss to Polk County West while Crookston improved to 4-1 after receiving a forfeit win over Frazee. Bagley edged Cass Lake 28-20 to improve to 4-1 while Roseau fell to 1-4.

"We'll have to move some guys around a bit and work on putting together a full 48 minutes of UNC football, which means playing with a high level of passion, energy and intensity," said Nordick, whose team traveled to Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Friday night. "I've felt the last couple of weeks we've lost a bit of that attitude and we need to find a way to get it back. We are less than three weeks away from section playoffs, so it's time we get playing our best football."

Staples-Motley 7 0 6 8...21

United North Central 12 6 0 0...18

SCORING

UNC--Clark 2 run (run failed)

SM--Davis 80 kickoff return (Lombard kick)

UNC--Clark 7 run (run failed)

UNC--Clark 2 run (run failed)

SM--Lombard 1 run (pass failed)

SM--Nyhus 25 pass from Lombard (Hoemberg run)

OFFENSIVE STATISTICS

RUSHING. Staples-Motley: Schmidt 9-98. UNC: Clark 28-113, Anderson 20-72, Floyd 6-30.

PASSING. Staples-Motley: Lombard 6-13-1 for 83 yards. UNC: Clark 6-13-0 for 78 yards.

RECEIVING. Staples-Motley: Webster 2-47, Nyhus 3-31. UNC: Lillquist 5-68, Anderson 1-10.

UNC DEFENSIVE STATISTICS

TACKLES: Anderson 5, Mostrom 4, Pinoniemi 3, Clark 3, Seibert 2, Bradley 2, Olson 2, Hintzman 2, Dailey 2, Floyd 2, Tolkkinen 2, Lacoe 1.

INTERCEPTIONS: Clark 1.

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