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North Branch is Headed to U.S. Bank Stadium!

The Vikings played against Benilde St. Margaret's on Thursday night.

The Class AAAA State football tournament kicked off on Thursday night in Monticello.

The Vikings would have the first opportunity on offense as they received the opening kick. They would start that drive from their own 18 yard line, but they needed only one play to get on the board, as Tyler Minke burst through the line and ran for an 82 yard touchdown putting his team up 8-0. The Red Knights would answer the North Branch score but their PAT was blocked keeping the Vikings in front 8-6. On their very next possession North Branch drove the length of the field and Minke would score his 2nd touchdown of the night putting the Vikes on top 16-6. The Red Knights once again answered the score by North Branch pulling them within three 16-13. The Vikings next possession was one they had been hoping for, drove the length of the field, used well over ten plays, and took off over 8 minutes off the clock. Said drive started in the first quarter and ended with a Jacob Tiegen score, with only 6:30 left in the 2nd quarter. With the long drive the Red Knights offense had to sit on the sideline for nearly ten minutes on a blustery night in Monticello. This seemed to effect them, as on the first play of their drive they fumbled on a run which the Vikings were able to hop on and give back to their offense. It only took two play for North Branch to find the endzone once again. This time Austin Anderson punched it in from 27 yards out to extend their lead 30-13. The Red Knights got the ball back and were able to score before half making it a 30-20 game going into the break.

BSM used the momentum of scoring before half, to score quickly on the opening possession of the 2nd half and draw within three of the North Branch lead 30-27. Once again the Vikings had a Viking drive, spanning 10-12 plays, took a good chunk off the clock and wound up in the endzone thanks to a two yard Brody Beaver rush, pushing their lead back out 38-27. As the 3rd quarter ended the Vikings faced a 4th down, they decided to go with a gutsy play and passed the ball, which was completed to Nathan Edwards-Gaona for 31 yards. Unfortunately, their drive ended on downs. The North Branch defense would step up big time as the Red Knights offense got back to work. The Red Knights made a couple of big gains which put the ball on the Vikings side of the 50. That's when the defense turned up the heat, a sack pushed them to the other side of the 50, then penalties continued to hurt BSM. Eventually a sack on third and long made it a 4th and forever and they were forced to punt. The Vikings did what they do best with the ball in their hands, ran out as much of the clock as they could, even though their drive again ended on downs they left under 30 seconds for BSM to try and score. It wasn't enough though as they made it into the redzone but Owen Link would seal the win with an interception!

With the win the Vikings are headed to U.S. Bank Stadium to play in the Class AAAA State semi finals! That game will be played next Friday(11/17/23) at 4:30pm.

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