A 28-point second quarter lifted the Packers to a road win over Grand Forks Central on Friday in Eastern Dakota Conference action.

With the 35-13 win over the Knights, the Packers claimed the No. 3 seed heading into the Class 3A football playoffs.

West Fargo rose to 5-4 overall and 5-2 in the EDC. The winless Knights closed the year out at 0-9 overall and 0-7 in conference play.

After a scoreless first quarter, West Fargo found the endzone four times in the second frame.

West Fargo quarterback Dustin Mertz connected on a 57-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Carson Hegerle to start the scoring.

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Less than a minute later, 6-foot-8 defensive end Hunter Lyman tipped a screen pass to Cole Kartes, who returned the interception for a 25-yard touchdown. Landon Pritchard tacked on his second extra point to make it 14-0.

At the halfway mark in the second frame, Junior Gbaley marched 20 yards for a touchdown to record West Fargo’s third unanswered score. Gbaley had three carries for 67 yards.

Packers running back Junior Gbaley leaves Central's Brayden Williams (40) and Caden Dahl (15) behind on a touchdown run in the second quarter of Friday's football game at Cushman Field. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
Packers running back Junior Gbaley leaves Central's Brayden Williams (40) and Caden Dahl (15) behind on a touchdown run in the second quarter of Friday's football game at Cushman Field. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The Packers recovered an onside kick in the following play, and senior quarterback Mertz capped the drive with a 30-yard rushing touchdown, cutting the lead to 28-0.

The Knights found the endzone on a 70-yard interception return by Tyler Herbeck with less than one minute remaining in the half to make it 28-6.

Mertz completed 4 of 6 passes for 107 yards and two touchdowns, adding 34 rushing yards and a TD on two attempts. Receiver Hegerle hauled in three receptions for 99 yards and two touchdowns.

The Packers got on the board in the opening drive of the third frame. Receiver Hegerle caught a 37-yard touchdown strike from Mertz. Pritchard connected on his fifth kick to give West Fargo a 35-6 lead.

Central finished out the scoring with a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ty Lorenz to Sam Strandell in the fourth quarter. The touchdown set up the game-clinching 35-13 score.

The Packers defense forced three interceptions in the contest. Marcus Gulley had 6/12 tackles to lead the way. KC Ortiz had five tackles, including three for a loss and a sack.

Grand Forks Central wide receiver Sam Strandell is brought down on a carry by West Fargo's Mike Johnson (33) in the first quarter of Friday's football game at Cushman Field. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
Grand Forks Central wide receiver Sam Strandell is brought down on a carry by West Fargo's Mike Johnson (33) in the first quarter of Friday's football game at Cushman Field. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

West Fargo had the offensive edge with 281 yards of total offense. Central had 177. The Packers gave up 50 yards on eight penalties in the contest.

Third-seeded West Fargo plays No. 2 West seed Bismarck High (5-4, 5-2 WDA) in a quarterfinal matchup at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, at the Bismarck Community Bowl.

Semifinals are slated for the following week, Nov. 8. The Class 3A title will be played at 6:40 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Fargodome.

No. 4 East seed Fargo South, top-seeded West Fargo Sheyenne and No. 2 seed Fargo Davies also earned another week of football and advanced to the playoffs.