by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Moses Saygbe blazed for 195 yards and Austin Larson kicked a field goal in the closing seconds as unbeaten Elk River nipped the Moorhead Spuds 31-29 Friday evening in Moorhead.
Saygbe led the Elks to a 321-yard rushing output but they trailed in the final minute for the first time in three games.
Moorhead pushed ahead 29-28 when Zach Day scored on a three-yard run with just 1:25 left and Cody Rahman added the point after.
“When we got down, we told our kids this was gut check time,” Elk coach Steve Hamilton told the Fargo Forum. “We told them that being able to come back are the kind of moments that will make you better men, better fathers and better husbands later in life.”
Elks drove quickly downfield — the big play being a 34-yard gain on a screen pass from backup quarterback Jordan Johnson to halfback Dylan Chambers – until they had a fourth-down play at the Spuds 10.
The Elks had not attempted a placement all season, going for two on all 14 touchdowns.
“We always think we can run for two, but you can’t go for two from the 10-yard line,” Hamltion quipped.
So he sent Larson unto the field to try win it with a 27-yard kick.
And the sophomore running back nailed it straight through, with Riley Filopovich snapping and Corey Collins holding.
“I was a little nervous at first,” Larson told the Forum. “But it was my first kick of the whole year and there was a little bit of luck involved and it was a good kick, I guess.”
Special teams came up big otherwise, too, as the kickoff team recovered two Larson onside kicks in the second half and one led to a touchdown.
After the non-conference win against a section rival, the Elks are 3-0 and dropped Moorhead to 0-3. All three Elk wins have come against teams that are now 0-3.
“It was a very exciting game,” said Hamilton. “I’ve had some exciting ones in my career and this was one of the best.”
Saygbe got his 195 yards on 23 carries, giving the 6-foot, 190-pound senior 388 yards rushing in three games.
Saygbe and quarterback Collins each had a 10-yard touchdown run and Chambers a five-yarder. Collins kept the ball 12 times for 80 yards.
Collins threw the team’s first TD pass of the season, a 12-yarder to junior tight end Derrick Cross that gave the Elks a 28-22 lead in the third quarter.
Moorhead rushed for 89 yards, led by Drake Benedict with 68 yards on 12 carries, while Aaron Lien passed for 158 yards, hitting 14 of 23.
The Elks will host Monticello at homecoming next Friday.
Elk River 31, Moorhead 29
Elk River ……… 8 6 14 3 — 31
Moorhead …….. 0 22 0 7 — 29
ER–Dylan Chambers 5 run (Corey Collins run)
ER–Collins 10 run (run failed)
Mhd–Drake Benedict 3 run (Cody Rahman kick)
Mhd–Mason Ness 9 pass from Aaron Lien (Rahman kick)
Mhd–Zack Day 1 run (kick failed)
ER–Moses Saygbe 10 run (Chambers run)
ER–Derrick Cross 12 pass from Collins (run failed)
Mhd–Day 3 run (Rahman kick)
ER–Austin Larsen 27 field goal
Elk River statistics
Passing – Collins 1-4-12-0, Jordan Johnson 1-2-32-0
Rushing – Saygbe 23-195, Collins 12-80, Chambers 9-14, Larsen 4-32
Receiving – Cross 1-12, Chambers 1-32
Rogers …………………. 2-0 3-0
Elk River ……………… 2-0 3-0
Buffalo …………………. 2-1 2-1
Becker ………………….. 1-1 2-1
Monticello …………….. 1-1 2-1
St. Michael-Alb. ……… 1-1 2-1
Cambridge-Isanti …….. 0-2 0-3
Big Lake ………………… 0-3 0-3
Elk River 31, Moorhead 29
Rogers 35, St. Michael-Albertville 21
Buffalo 32, Cambridge-Isanti 0
Monticello 22, Big Lake 16
Becker 27, Mora 26
Games next Friday
Monticello at Elk River
Buffalo at Rogers
Becker at Little Falls
St. Cloud Tech at Cambridge-Isanti
St. Michael-Albertville at Big Lake