Knights Upset Second-Ranked North Sentral Kossuth, 35-22
SWEA?CITY – It is said that when the post-season rolls around, you throw out the records and play one game at a time. For the Graettinger/Terril Knights, throwing out the record book from the regular season was a good move.
The Knights came up with a 35-22 upset victory over North Sentral Kossuth in the First round playoff game Monday night, and earned the right to advance to a Friday night Quarterfinal game with Armstrong-Ringsted, which will be played at Evergreen Park in Graettinger.
After losing to the Eagles during the regular season by a 38-22 margin, the Knights had revenge on their minds, as well as advancing down the playoff trail.
A tough defensive effort would spark Graettinger/Terril in the win, as the Knights came up with several stops of the Eagles, basing their defense on the philosophy of bending – but not breaking.
The Eagles got the opening kickoff and moved into the Knights’ domain, but a quarterback sack by Heath Marchand would kill the drive at the Knight’s 38 yard line. The Knights opened their chest of tricks right away, letting Nate Howard put up a 42-yard half back option pass to Beau Craig on the first snap that would put the Knights up by a 7-0 advantage after Eric Hatland’s conversion kick with just under 9:00 to go in the opening quarter.
The defense would stop the Eagles and force three-and-outs, while having to punt the ball once in the series as the first quarter wound down. After stopping NSK a second time, the Knights took over and started a drive of their own. A big third down conversion pass from Cody Dyhrkopp to Drew Skattebo kept the Knights’ drive moving as the first quarter ended. With a 7-0 advantage, Dyhrkopp would go to the air again early in the second quarter, keeping the drive going by hitting Nate Howard on a fourth and long-yardage play with a 28 yard pass Howard would deposit in the end zone for a 14-0 lead after Hatland’s kick.
With 6:58 to go in the first half, North Sentral Kossuth would finally string together a scoring drive of their own that capped off with a 20 yard strike with just over 3:00 to go in the half. The Eagles went for a deuce and cut the Knights’ margin to 14-8 to make a game out of it.
Graettinger/Terril wasn’t ready to concede anything at that point, and tried to tack on another score before the break. After getting into NSK territory, Dyhrkopp would keep for a nice gain , but a costly interception by the Eagles would kill the drive, as the Eagles returned the stolen pass to Graettinger/Terril’s 20 yard line.
With :42 to go in the half, the Eagles tried to fly to the endzone, but would be stopped a yard shy of a first down, giving the Knights the ball back with just seconds remaining in the half. The Knights took a knee to end the half, clinging to a 14-8 lead in a game that was by no means decided.
The Knights knew they had to get their ground game going in the second half, as leading rusher Nate Howard had been held in check by the Eagle defense in the first half.
The Knights got Howard back into the mix in a big way as they put the ball in the fullback’s hands with 9:48 to go in the third quarter and Howard exploded for a 39 yard run and score. The conversion kick gave the Knights a 21-8 lead and started to swing the momentum back to the Knights.
The Eagles would engineer a drive that would give them a score with 1:38 to play in third frame. A two-point conversion would make the score 21-16, which was all the closer the Eagles would end up getting the rest of the night.
After getting the ball back on the kick, the Knights ground it out downfield and put Nate Howard in the limelight again, this time on a six yard scoring run just after the start of the final quarter. Drew Skattebo ran in the conversion for a 29-16 lead with 10:24 to go in the game.
The Knights shut NSK down on their next possession and got the ball back, setting up another scoring drive, this time coming off a 28 yard throw from Dyhrkopp to Beau Craig with 7:16 to go in the game. The conversion try failed, and the Knights went on defense with a 35-16 lead, as the Eagles found themselves in a position they were not accustomed to, trailing by two scores and then some.
The Eagles would rally with just over 4:00 to go in the game as a pass play was nearly intercepted by the Knights, but the tipped ball fell into the hands of an Eagle player, who turned the catch into a 19 yard gain. North Sentral Kossuth would score shortly after the catch on a three yard quarterback keeper with just under 3:00 to play to cut the margin to 35-22 after the conversion failed.
Graettinger/Terril took over at that point and was content to grind the ball out on the ground, using up the clock and taking care of the football. But, on a fourth and short yardage, the Knights tried for the first down, only to have the ball pop out of Cody Dyhrkopp’s grasp. The quarterback managed to get the ball back, but the recovery was just short of the first down yardage, giving the ball back to the Eagles.
The Knight’s defense was up to the challenge, however, and Trent Lundgren would seal the Eagles fate with an interception on North Sentral Kossuth’s first play from scrimmage that would end the game.
Drew Skattebo would pace the Knight’s offensive attack on Monday with 82 hard-fought rushing yards off 18 carries, while Nate Howard added 66 yards off 18 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Cody Dyhrkopp would complete six of his eight passes, accounting for 98 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception on the night.