The Polk County West Thunder scored a touchdown midway through the 4th quarter to grab the lead, and held on the rest of the way in a 12-8 win over the Red Lake County Rebels on Wednesday night in Plummer.

After Polk County West went three-and-out on their opening possession, Red Lake County started their first drive on their own 33-yard line, and scored quickly. On a second down carry, sophomore Damon Ferguson took a handoff and sprinted down the sideline for a 55-yard touchdown run. Junior quarterback Blane Schmitz then ran it in for a successful two-point conversion, giving the Rebels an 8-0 lead with 8:22 to go in the first quarter after a 5-play, 67-yard drive. “That was a nice drive,” said RLC Coach Brian Remick. “We came out ready to play and everybody was doing their job.”  Once Polk County West got the ball back, junior quarterback Sam Gapp threw an interception on a fourth-down try, setting up Red Lake County with a first down at the Thunder 35.  The Rebels drove down to the 11-yard line, and Schmitz completed a touchdown pass to senior Bailey Hince, but the touchdown was taken off the board because of a penalty. Schmitz tried to throw for the end zone from 20 yards out, but the pass fell incomplete with less than a minute left in the first. “That was tough and it was a missed opportunity,” said RLC Coach Remick. “You go up by two scores that puts a lot of pressure on the other team, but we didn’t finish.”

After another Polk County West punt, Red Lake County set up shop at the Thunder 47-yard line, looking to add to their lead early in the second. Once again, the Rebels got deep into enemy territory, but failed to convert on fourth down. Red Lake County’s final three drives of the first half all ended in a turnover on downs. After a slow start offensively, Polk County West finally picked up some steam on their fourth possession, largely keeping the ball on the ground with quarterback Sam Gapp. Eventually, Gapp ran it into the endzone from six yards away to put the Thunder on the board. Gapp’s run on the two-point try came up short, so the Rebels still led 8-6 with 3:23 left until halftime. “We started the game slow again, but put a nice drive together,” said PCW Coach Darin Byklum. “We started playing better on the offensive side and it showed on that drive for a big score before halftime.” The Rebels had a decent drive going in the closing minutes of the first half, but again turned the ball over on downs with just four seconds left in the second quarter.

The Rebels had a great chance to add to their lead, as they began the second half with the ball, and marched down the field behind solid running performances from Damon Ferguson, Carter Williams and Paul DeHate. After a promising eight-play drive to open the third quarter, Red Lake County once again failed to convert on fourth down deep in Thunder territory. Polk County West didn’t have much success on offense in the third quarter either, as they had to punt it away after a six-play drive stalled.

After starting a drive at their own 25 late in the third, the Rebels had the ball and the lead to start the fourth quarter. This time, Polk County West’s defensive front stepped up and stopped the Rebels’ rushing attack, forcing the first Red Lake County punt formation of the game. After a low snap on the punting down, Polk County West tackled Rebels punter Carson Lambert before he even had a chance to punt the ball away. This gave the Thunder their best starting field position of the game, as they took over at the Red Lake County 35. After a nine-play drive that consumed over five minutes of clock, Sam Gapp punched it in for his second touchdown of the game – this one from 10 yards away. “Sam (Gapp) runs the ball well and plays hard on defense and he was a good leader for us today,” said PCW Coach Byklum. “It was nice to take advantage of the miscue and we will take it.” The two-point try once again failed, but Polk County West grabbed a 12-8 lead with 6:06 to play. Red Lake County once again found a rhythm offensively, especially in their running game. Damon Ferguson had a nice, 15-yard run to put the Rebels into Thunder territory, but Ferguson had to exit the game after that run with an apparent leg injury. Red Lake County got down to about the Thunder 25 and was faced with another 4th down situation. Blane Schmitz went to the air, but his pass was picked off by senior Adam Sczepanski, giving Polk County West the ball back with 2:21 remaining. The Rebels still had two timeouts, but Sam Gapp rushed for one first down, and that was enough for the Thunder to run out the clock.  “The boys played hard and they showed a lot of heart tonight,” said PCW coach Byklum. “This team has surprised me in a positive way so far this year.  They have bought in and played their tales off and they got it down tonight.  This is a huge win for us against a very good team.”

Polk County West improves to 1-1 on the season and will host Ada-Borup/West on October 23.   Red Lake County drops to 0-1 and will travel to Pine River-Backus on Tuesday.  You can hear the game on KROX with a pre-game show at 5:30 and kickoff at 6:00 p.m.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Polk County West 0 6 0 6 12
Red Lake County 8 0 0 0 8

1st Quarter
8:22 – RLC – Damon Ferguson 55-yard touchdown run (Blane Schmitz run)

2nd Quarter
3:23 – PCW – Sam Gapp 6-yard touchdown run (run failed)

3rd Quarter
No Scoring

4th Quarter
6:06 – PCW – Sam Gapp 10-yard touchdown run (pass failed)

TEAM STATS Polk Co. West Red Lake Co.
Rushing Yards 149 213
Passing Yards 0 14
Total Yards 149 227
Fumbles-Lost 3-0 2-0
First Downs 10 9
Penalties-Yards 3-15 4-30
Punts 3-78 0-0



Polk County West Red Lake County
Rushing Rushing
Sam Gapp 18-101 Damon Ferguson 12-140
Gage Wavra 6-29 Carter Williams 14-39
Daniel Roth 4-11 Paul DeHate 8-30
Adam Sczepanski 2-11 Blane Schmitz 7-(-2)
Isaac Zavoral 1-(-3) Bailey Hince 1-6
Passing Passing
Sam Gapp 0-3-1   0 yards Blane Schmitz 2-6-1 14 yards
Receiving Receiving
Isaiah Aquino 1-8
Carter Williams 1-6