WORTHINGTON -- In the third overtime, Willard Holm threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Ian Stamer in what turned out to be the winning score Saturday afternoon as the Minnesota West college football team beat MState-Fergus Falls 35-33 at Trojan Field.
It was heart-stopping time in Worthington.
Rules state that the first overtime period begins 25 yards away from the end zone for both teams. Minnesota West had the ball first but missed a field goal attempt. Fergus Falls then went for it, but also missed a field goal attempt.
In the second OT, the Spartans went first, and they scored a touchdown on a 1-yard Rondarius Gregory run, but missed their mandated 2-point conversion try. West’s attempt was also successful, as Holm passed to Stamer on a 25-yard strike. But alas, West missed its conversion, too.
On the third overtime, both teams were given the ball at the 3-yard line for one play. The Bluejays scored on a pass from Holm to Bailey Cowell. Fergus Falls then attempted a pass, but West sacked the quarterback, who fumbled.
The exciting win ended Minnesota West’s regular season with a 3-5 record. The Bluejays were to find out Saturday night who and where they would play for the upcoming playoff season.
“It was a crazy game, and I’m getting too old for this,” said veteran Minnesota West head coach Jeff Linder. “The guys kept fighting and kept battling. And that’s all you can ask. And they earned it.”
The Jays entered their rematch with MState having lost their last two games -- long road trips 24-14 against Vermilion and 64-0 to Itasca. But rather than feel sorry for their poor luck, they were mentally charged to play the Spartans, who beat them 43-18 in the season opener at Fergus Falls. Linder said his team had its best week of practice heading into Saturday’s home game.
“They were kind of on a mission today,” he said after the 3-overtime result.
West started the game fast with a 3-yard first quarter touchdown run by running back Rashard Anderson, and it was followed less than two minutes later with a recovered fumble (forced by former Worthington High School linebacker Kent Lais) which resulted in a 12-yard pick-up and return by LaRontay Standard.
West led 13-0 heading into the second quarter. It became 13-10 at halftime, as Gregory carried in from three yards away and kicker Carsen McKnight booted a 47-yard field goal.
There was just one score in the third stanza, a 32-yard field goal by McKnight.
In the fourth, Holm put West ahead with a 25-yard pass to Adrian High School graduate Stamer, with Luverne grad Cowell passing to Worthington grad Tommy Lais for the conversion. But Fergus Falls answered with a 1-yard Gregory run, though the conversion was no good.
West scored next, as Kendrick Gordon sacked Fergus Falls quarterback Nate Hayden while forcing a fumble. It was recovered by the Jays’ Duvaughn Williams. The conversion failed.
With just 3:56 remaining in regulation, Gregory scored another TD from three yards away, and a conversion run by Isaiah Griffin was successful, knotting the score 27-27.
Holm finished with 15 completed passes on 32 attempts for 203 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Stamer caught five aerials for 68 yards and two scores. Lais caught four for 41 and Cowell three for 69.
Anderson was a steady runner, gaining 53 yards on 16 carries, and Holm gained 41 yards on 12 carries.
The always-dangerous Hayden completed 20 of 44 passes for 281 yards for MState, with two interceptions. Gregory was a powerful workhorse, running 26 times for 234 yards and finding the end zone four times.
MState finished with 24 first downs compared to 13 for Minnesota West. The Spartans amassed 519 total yards while West finished with 247. MState surrendered the ball three times on turnovers compared to West’s two.
MState FF 0 10 3 14 6 -- 33
Minnesota West 13 0 0 14 8 -- 35