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Warriors celebrate first win in playoffs

After giving up three quick scores, the United North Central defense shut down Warroad for the final three quarters as the Warriors celebrated their first playoff win as a paired football team.

UNC compiled 388 yards in total offense to spark a 42-18 victory over Warroad in a Section 8AA quarterfinal game Tuesday night at Sebeka.

"It feels great to have that first playoff win. It has been a long time coming and we are loving every minute of it," said UNC head coach Jeremy Nordick. "It is the fourth year of the pairing and our first ever home playoff game, so it made it extra special to win at home."

Warroad and UNC traded touchdowns in the first quarter before the No. 4-seeded Warriors scored the final 28 points for the win.

Tom Gruchow's 10-yard TD run opened the scoring before Warroad countered with a 7-yard TD run by Quinn Lang to tie the game at 6-6.

Joey Cuperus took the ensuing kickoff and returned it 65 yards and Ben Skoog scored on the conversion to give UNC a 14-6 lead.

Aaron Storey gave Warroad an 18-14 advantage by hitting Alex Sandahl on a 60-yard scoring route late in the first quarter and capping another scoring drive with a 15-yard run early in the second quarter.

Gruchow's 7-yard TD run and Kasey Tyge's 8-yard TD pass to Luke Hendrickson gave UNC a 29-18 lead at the half.

The Warriors sealed the win when Tyge hit Alex Brockpahler on a 17-yard scoring route in the third quarter and an 87-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter.

Tyge completed 12 of 14 passes for 245 yards with Brockpahler making seven receptions for 147 yards and Hendrickson catching four passes for 78 yards. Gruchow rushed 17 times for 127 yards as the Warriors compiled 143 yards on the ground.

Defensively, Brockpahler made 10 tackles and had two interceptions. Hendrickson was in on nine tackles.

"The keys (to the win) were to get those playoff jitters out in the first half and just go out and play football. We made some mental mistakes on defense early, but we made the adjustments and shut them down the second half," said Nordick. "I'm very pleased at how our offense moved the football. I think we've improved week to week and our leaders are really stepping up and making some big-time plays."

UNC will carry a six-game winning streak and 7-2 overall record into a section semifinal game at No. 1-seeded Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton today (Saturday) at 2 p.m. D-G-F, which is 8-1 and ranked No. 10 in this week's state Class AA poll, shut out No. 8 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 48-0 Tuesday night.

"I'm expecting a very tough, physical game," said Nordick. "DGF is big, strong and physical. We need to utilize our speed and try to keep our defense off the field with some sustained scoring drives. DGF has put up some big scores, so we really need to tighten up on defense and continue to move the football on offense."