FARGO — They were bigger than they thought they were.
The No. 2-seeded Browerville Tigers muscled their way past the top-seeded Pillager Huskies 20-7 in Friday’s Section 6-1A championship game at the Fargodome.
But it wasn’t all mass and muscle for the Tigers as Browerville quarterback Mitchell Heid threw three touchdown passes, including two that covered 48 yards. Heid was a perfect 7-of-7 for 156 yards and the three scores in the first half.
He finished with 179 yards passing and also rushed for 67 yards on 21 carries to help the Tigers drain the clock in the second half.
“I had seen them play and I didn’t think they were that big,” said Pillager head coach Lowell Scearcy. “They were a much physically bigger team than I thought. I thought we would be matched physically in size with them, but we weren’t. They really have strong, aggressive kids. Their strength really showed up.”
The Tigers took their opening possession 75 yards on 12 plays. The drive was capped off when Heid hit Matthew Schettler from 7-yards out for the score. The drive was prolonged by a Huskies offsides call on fourth and one.
“Their were a couple of key penalties and turnovers, which there are always are,” Scearcy said, “That made it tougher on us. But they played tough. They were a good team.”
Pillager moved the ball well enough against Browerville, but its offense struggled to find the end zone. The Huskies took their opening drive 48 yards on 14 plays but stalled at Browerville’s 15.
The Huskies’ Devin Strack didn’t have trouble finding the end zone on the game’s first punt as he danced through would-be tacklers and returned it 55 yards to tie the score 7-7. Heid and the Tigers answered with the first of two 48-yard touchdown passes as he hit Kyle Petermeier to make it 14-7.
Browerville added the game’s final score with 43 seconds left on the first-half clock when Heid hit Schettler again on a 48-yard bomb.
“About halfway through the season we went to that spread attack because our quarterback is such a super athlete,” Browerville head coach Wayne Petermeier said. “We have some big, tall kids on the outside, who can go up and get the football so we knew we had to utilize that.
“The best thing we got out of that spread is we can still run the veer and run up the middle of the field. It helps us out because teams have to honor our passing game now and before they didn’t really have to.”
Pillager’s Travis Richards carried the load offensively with 20 carries or 86 yards. The Huskies’ multidirectional running attack was stuffed, however, by Browerville’s defensive line.
“There’s a lot of teams in our conference that run similar style of offenses to Pillager’s,” said Petermeier. “Our kids have been schooled on it all year. Our tackles on defense are probably the MVPs of the game because they did an excellent job taking a step out in anticipation for the sweep or the quick toss. Then, if they didn’t feel any pressure, they shot up the field.”
Connor Uselman passed for 81 yards on 7-of-14 attempts, but Pillager’s four second-half offensive possessions ended in two punts, a fumble and a loss on downs.
“We’re happy for our kids to make it this far, but of course this is a tough one,” Scearcy said “But if you lost next week, or in the state semifinals, it would be tough, too.
“We got here in the section finals and that hasn’t happened in 10 years so we’re real happy. We had a great group of seniors and we’ll miss them.”
Browerville 7 13 0 0 — 20
Pillager 0 7 0 0 — 7
B-Matthew Schettler 12 pass from Mitchell Heid (Heid kick) 5:28
P-Devin Strack 55 punt return (Cherokee DeLeon kick) 6:50
B-Kyle Petermeier 48 pass from Heid (Heid kick) 5:04
B-Schettler 48 pass from Heid (kick failed) :43
Rushes-yards: Pill 34-135, B 38-104
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Pill 7-14-0-81, B 9-12-1-179
Total offense: Pill 48-216, B 50-283
Rushing: Pill-Travis Richards 20-86, Jeff Flickinger 11-43, Devin Strack 2-4, Conner Uselman 1-2; B-Eliezer Vigil 15-34, Mitchell Heid 21-67, Adam Sutlief 2-3
Passing: Pill-Uselman 7-14-81; B-Heid 9-12-179
Receiving: Pill-Strack 2-17, Devrin House 2-20, Cherokee DeLeon 1-10, Cody Beach 1-13, Flickinger 1-21; B-Chris Buhl 2-32, Matthew Schettler 2-60, Reid Pearson 3-24, Kyle Petermeier 2-63