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First Down Friday: EDC playoff picture heats up in Week 7

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FARGO — If Friday's game against Bismarck Century was a postseason preview, Fargo Davies clearly has a lot to work to do in the coming weeks.

Grant Anderson returned the opening kick 92 yards for a touchdown and things snowballed from there for the Class 3A fourth-ranked Eagles, who were dominated wire-to-wire in a 45-3 loss to the second-ranked Patriots.

Anderson accounted for two of the four touchdowns the Patriots scored in the opening 14 minutes, 8 seconds—plunging in from six yards out on the first offensive series for the Patriots, who ran just two plays in their own territory in the first quarter. He finished with 83 yards on the ground.

Already in a two-touchdown hole, Davies Coach Jason Thielges took a big gamble, electing to go for it on 4th-and-1 from the his own 33 midway through the first quarter.

But the risk didn't pay off, as tailback Isaac Balvitsch ran into a wave of bodies and was driven back for a two-yard loss.

"I just felt like we had to get some momentum at that point," Thielges said. "We were struggling and if we could put a drive together. I didn't want to punt and give them the ball again.

"Obviously it wasn't the right decision but if we can't get one yard with our bread-and-butter play, we're probably not going to come back and win the game anyway. We just got out-physicaled all over the football field."

The Patriots, who outrushed the Eagles 115-9 in the first half and didn't allow a first-quarter first down, made it 21-0 on an 11-yard Nathan Kraft touchdown run. They then pushed it to 28-0 just over two minutes into the second quarter, as Cade Feeney recovered a fumble at the Eagle 15, then paid it off with a 13-yard touchdown two plays later.

The Eagles avoided the shutout thanks to a 32-yard Ethan Olson field goal in the second quarter, but mistakes continued to plague them in the second half.

The defense couldn't corral a wet ball on an uncontested fumble recovery attempt, which eventually led to a Feeney touchdown run.

Again going for it on 4th-and-1 in their own territory, this time at the 19, Isaac Balvitsch leaked wide open out of the backfield for what would have been a walk-in 81-yard touchdown. But gripping a wet ball and with pressure in his face, quarterback Jesse Forknell short-armed an incomplete throw.

That turnover also resulted in a Patriot touchdown.

Now 4-3, all three Patriot losses have come at home against the top-three ranked teams in Class 3A.

The Eagles won't have long to lick their wounds, as a critical Thursday home matchup with Fargo South awaits.

The game could prove to have major implications for state tournament seeding. Davies is 3-1 in the Eastern Dakota Conference, while Fargo South improved to 4-0 with a 14-6 win over West Fargo Friday.

"We've got to flip the script," Thielges said. "We're a good football team even though that was pretty awful right there. You've got to have a short memory and just come back and fight next week."

EDC SPORTS - South stays in 2nd place in the EDC with a tight 14-6 win over West Fargo.

The Mustangs retain 1st in the EDC with their big win over Central 47-0. 

North keeps their playoff hopes alive with a 12-3 win over Red River, they now sit 4th in the EDC. 

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