West Fargo Sheyenne has had two seasons cut short by Minot in the last four years. But this postseason is different — the Mustangs control their own destiny.
Sophomore quarterback Grant Warkenthien had 124 yards in the air and four total touchdowns to help lift the top-seeded Mustangs to a 42-7 victory over No. 4 West seed Minot in a North Dakota Class 3A state quarterfinal matchup on Friday.
With the win, Sheyenne has earned a trip to the Class 3A football semifinals for the second year in a row.
"It feels amazing. It was a tough game, they're a really good team," Sheyenne head coach Jeremy Newton said. "Just to come out on top against them is good. We haven't done that in awhile."
The Magicians posted a pair of postseason victories over the Mustangs in 2015 and 2017. Friday's quarterfinal win was Sheyenne’s first postseason victory over Minot in the program’s history.
"I think they're focused and they're peaking at the right time," Newton said of his team. "And hopefully they can continue to do that."
The Mustangs won the coin toss at Essentia Health Mustang Field but deferred, and Minot started at its own 36. After a two-minute opening drive, the Magicians were forced to punt after a turnover on downs.
Sheyenne quarterback Warkenthien started the scoring for the Mustangs and capped Sheyenne's seven-minute drive with a fake handoff and 1-yard touchdown run.
Minot quarterback Jaxon Gunville's pass was intercepted by North Dakota State commit Tyler Terhark in the Magicians' following possession.
Minutes later, senior Zach Rodgers added another TD to keep the Mustangs' two-score lead going in the second frame. Rodgers had 17 carries for 66 yards in the half.
A second Gunville pass was picked off by Lance Oster in Minot's next possession. The turnover led to a Mustangs score.
Warkenthien connected on a 15-yard bullet to senior wide receiver Terhark with less than five minutes to go in the first half. Barika Kpeenu's 2-point conversion was good to give the Mustangs a 20-0 lead.
Alex Urlaub tallied his fifth interception of the season in the Magicians following possession.
Urlaub's 41-yard interception return helped the Mustangs put the nail in the coffin heading into the second half. Warkenthien connected on a second touchdown pass to Kpeenu, and Terhark tacked on the two extra points to cut the lead to 28-0.
The East Region's leading rusher Kpeenu had six carries for 36 yards in the first half.
On the ground, the Magicians had 50 yards on 13 carries in the first two frames. The Mustangs more than tripled with 30 rushes for 172 yards. Warkenthien had two touchdowns by land and one by air in the first half.
The Terhark-Warkenthien duo found the endzone right out of the gate in the second half on a 34-yard touchdown strike notched by Warkenthien. Tony Hoang tacked on the extra point to give the Mustangs a 35-point lead.
Gunville eliminated the chance of a shutout at the 2 minute, 24 second mark in the third frame. The senior quarterback scampered 1 yard to get the Magicians on the board. Gunville threw for 53 yards on 5 of 10 passes and three interceptions in the contest.
Just as the Magicians were gaining an edge, Kpeenu broke loose, racing 54 yards to record his second TD and cement the 42-7 game-clinching score.
The Mustangs had 414 yards of total offense. Newton said it was a good night for his players.
"I just felt like as a team we played well and a few things went our way," he said.
Friday’s quarterfinal win improved the Mustangs to 9-1 overall. The No. 2-ranked Mustangs posted a 28-14 win over the Magicians in their home opener earlier this fall.
Sheyenne, which has tallied the most team points of any East Region team, advances to the Nov. 8 semifinals where the team will host cross-town rival and third-seeded West Fargo High School (6-4), at 7 p.m.
The Mustangs recorded a 21-6 victory over the Packers earlier this season.
The Class 3A title will be vied for at 6:40 p.m. Nov. 15 at the Fargodome.