Friday night saw rain in the forecast, and Dakota was playing host to EPC in an NUIC Northwest showdown. Both teams would be looking to better they potential playoff positioning, but it was West Carroll who still needed a win to become playoff eligible.
This game definitely proved to provide both teams with challenges with a wet field, and both teams being run dominated. This game was going to come down to field position and line battles.
Early on in the contest, EPC was the winner of the field position battle, as they forced Dakota deep into their own territory as both teams were going at each other like two heavyweight contenders. This would change in the 2nd quarter in favor of the host Indians, as Dakota forced EPC to punt from the Dakota 42, but a wet ball and a bad snap allowed Brock Duncan to break free and block the punt attempt, setting Dakota up with their best field position at that point, getting the ball at the EPC 25 yard line. A few plays later would see Grant Gallagher run a dive off the left side and 17 yards later he was in the end zone. A Nolan Lentz PAT was good, as Dakota struck first to take a 7-0 lead half way through the 2nd quarter.
With just under a minute left in the half, EPC would fumble the ball as Dakota recovered at the EPC 39 yard line. This time the Indians would strike through the air, as Dakota faced a 4th down, and just outside of FG range, Dakota decided they had to go for it in 4 down territory. Kyle Bordner dropped back to pass and found a wide open Trey Engelbrecht breaking through the middle of the field for a 25 yard TD as time expired in the half. After a Lentz PAT attempt, Dakota staked a 14-0 lead at the half.
In the 3rd quarter, EPC would once again allow the Indians to start a drive on the Catz side of the field after Aden Cassidy intercepted a Braden Smargiassi pass, returning the ball to the EPC 27 yard line. The Indians wasted no time, as Cassidy would make his interception hurt, this time from the offensive side of the ball as he took the ball for a 10 yard run to extend the Dakota lead to 21-0 with 3:07 left in the 3rd.
Late in the 4th quarter, EPC would benefit off a recovered fumble, as they started their last drive from the Dakota 27 yard line. Two minutes later the Wildcatz would get on the scoreboard after a Braden Smargiassi 10 yard TD run, cutting into the Dakota lead 21-6. However it was too late, as Dakota would run out the clock from there to seal the game.
Dakota would outgain EPC on the night with 134 yards for the Indians to 105 yards for the Catz. Leading the way for the Indians was Aden Cassidy, as he finished the night with 7 carries for 35 yards and a TD. Kyle Bordner was 3-11 passing for 40 yards and 1 TD, connecting with Trey Engelbrecht who had 1 reception for 25 yards and a score to go with his 18 yards rushing on 13 attempts.
EPC was led on the night by Jayden Kempel, who paced the Wildcatz offense with 51 yards rushing on 17 carries and 2 receptions for 16 yards. Braden Smargiassi would close the night with 4-13 passing for 46 yards, and scored the lone EPC TD.
Dakota (7-1) @ Le-Win (8-0) | EPC (4-4) @ Polo (5-3)