OTC to face Cedar Mountain in first round of state tournament

Photos by Chad Koenen
Chris Fronning follows the lead block of Sawyer Christensen during Thursday’s section championship game between Border West and Otter Tail Central in Fargo.

By Chad Koenen


Lane Dilly was a man among boys on Thursday afternoon in the FargoDome. The Henning High School senior rushed 40 times for 223 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Otter Tail Central Bulldogs defeated the Border West Buccaneers by a score of 34-12.

Mason Dalluge breaks a tackle during the first half of Thursday’s section championship game at the FargoDome.

Dilly accumulated more rushing and receiving yards, 255 yards total, than the entire Border West team as the Buccaneers accumulated 237 yards of total offense. He was also among the leading tacklers on defense as the Bulldogs simply overpowered the Buccaneers in the trenches throughout the game. 

With the win the fourth ranked Bulldogs have qualified for their first state tournament since 2018 and their first since switching to 9-man football. 

In the first quarter, the Bulldogs took their opening possession of the game on a methodical drive that ended with Dilly scoring his first of four touchdowns on a 5-yard run to give OTC a 6-0 lead. Mason Dalluge converted the two-point conversion to give OTC an 8-0 lead with just 8:29 to go in the first quarter.

Later in the quarter the Buccaneers muffed a punt and it was recovered by Teigan Bjerke to give OTC the ball inside the Border West 30-yard-line. OTC capitalized on the mistake when Dalluge scored on a 10-yard run and Dilly added the two-point conversion to give the Bulldogs a 16-0 lead early in the second quarter. 

Anthony Rousu leads Cayden Dittberner through the hole late in Thursday’s section championship game against the Buccaneers.

Border West was able to crack the scoreboard on the subsequent drive when Brody Nachbor was initially stopped on a fourth and short near midfield, before he bounced the ball outside and found the end zone on a 50-yard touchdown run. 

On the subsequent possession the Bulldogs put together a time consuming drive that took nearly 8 minutes off the clock and resulted in Dilly’s second touchdown of the half, this time on a 2-yard touchdown run, to make the score 22-6 with just 38 seconds left.

Not going down without a fight, the Buccaneers put together a drive that resulted in a pass in the end zone as time expired. Dalluge stepped in front of the pass to give the Bulldogs an interception and a commanding 22-6 lead at the break. 

Jack Mekalson waits for a receive to come open during Thursday’s game in the FargoDome.

Coming out of halftime the Bulldogs used a 12-play drive, covering 65 yards to increase their lead to 28-6 when Dilly scored on a 5-yard touchdown run.

Border West answered right back when Nachbor scored on an 11-yard run to cap off a 9 play, 57-yard drive to make the score 28-16 in favor of OTC.

The Bulldogs once again put together a long drive that ate the remainder of the third quarter and approximately 5 minutes into the fourth quarter off the clock by utilizing a dominant running game. Unfortunately, the drive didn’t result in any points, but Dalluge quickly intercepted the Buccaneers on the subsequent drive to set up Dilly’s fourth touchdown of the game. 

Teigan Bjerke and Jack Mekalson converge on a tackle during Thursday’s game against Border West.

Following a 38-yard run, Dilly scored on the third play of the drive from 2-yards out to give OTC a 34-12 lead late in the fourth quarter. 

As a team the Bulldogs ran 73 plays, compared to 42 plays for Border West, while outgaining the Buccaneers by a 396-237 advantage. The Bulldogs rushed for 332 yards on the ground and picked up an eye popping 21 first downs. The Bulldogs also forced 3 Border West turnovers and converted 8-13 third downs and 2-3 fourth downs. 

OTC will now take their perfect 10-0 record on the road for the first round of the state tournament as they will travel to Buffalo to take on the Section 2 champion Cedar Mountain. The game will kickoff at 7 p.m.

William Schwartz gets a hand in the face of a Border West passer during Thursday’s section championship game in Fargo.

Cedar Mountain comes into the game with a record of 7-3 overall after defeating top seeded Red Rock Central in the Section 2 championship game on Friday by a score of 36-22. 

Cedar Mountain is currently ranked 15th in the QRF and comes into the game averaging 29.5 points per game on offense, while giving up 21.5 points per game on defense. 

The Bulldogs come into the game as the top ranked team in the QRF, while averaging 40.8 points per game on offense, while giving up just 12.8 points per game on defense. 

The winner of Thursday’s game will take on either Nevis (10-0 and ranked third in the QRF) or the defending 9-man state champions Mountain Iron-Buhl (11-0 and ranked sixth in the QRF) in the 9-man state semi-finals on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. at US Bank Stadium.