Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal upset #2 Nevis 29-20 to win the 9-Man/Section 6 championship Thursday afternoon at the Fargodome.
It was the third straight game that the fifth-seeded Titans defeated a favored opponent. NCE/U-H beat #4 seed Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in the section quarterfinals and then top-seeded Waubun, ranked second in the final 9-Man coaches’ poll, in the section semifinals.
The Titans scored on the first play from scrimmage on a 63-yard run by Hunter Thompson, but Nevis would answer on a 25-yeard touchdown pass from Austin Becker to Jordan Spenst. Both teams would run for two-point conversions to make the score 8-8.
NCE/U-H scored again on its next possession on a Patrick Busby 10-yard touchdown run and another two-point conversion to go ahead 16-8.
Nevis scored one minute later on a long touchdown pass from Austin Becker to Gavin Becker, but would miss the two-point conversion.
The Titans would add another touchdown before halftime when Brett Braseth passed nine-yards to Deforrest Nelson. The conversion passed failed, but NCE/U-H led 22-14 at the half.
The Tigers would lose their starting quarterback Austin Becker to injury one the next series and he would not return.
Nevis scored in the third quarter on a 10-yard pass from backup QB Keifer Miller to Courtland Chase. The Titans stopped the conversion run, leaving the Tigers trailing by two at 22-20.
NCE/U-H iced the game on Thompson’s second touchdown, on a 10-yard run with four minutes to play and an interception by Nelson, his second of the game with 44 seconds remaining.
The Tigers outgained the Titans 349-314. Nevis passed for 206 yards and rushed for 143. NCE/U-H got 286 yards on the ground and added 28 through the air.
Thompson finished with 141 yards on 19 carries to lead the Titans. Isaac Kraft also ran the ball 19 times and gained 79 yards.
Miller led Nevis with 69 yards rushing on 20 carries and was 7-of-19 for 109 yards passing. Despite playing less than half the game, Austin Becker finished with 60 yards rushing and 106 yards passing, with two touchdowns. Gavin Becker gained 137 yards on seven receptions.
The Titans advance to their first-ever state football tournament, in just the second year of the co-op program. Norman County East had participated in the state tourney in 1993, while Ulen-Hitterda qualified twice previously in 2005 and 2006.