Magic City Miracle
The winning coach said it was a play he prefers never having to call. The losing coach said his team practiced against the exact trickery, knowing the game would be close and the opportunity may present itself.
The hero said there was virtually no time to process what was about to happen.
Minot High School senior tight end Jacob Holmen threw the game-winning touchdown on a halfback pass to senior Brady Lampert in the final 30 seconds, giving the undefeated No. 2 Magicians a 14-10 comeback win over No. 3 Century in Saturday’s Class AAA West Region game at Duane Carlson Stadium.
“It’s fun when he’s your own kid,” MHS coach Barry Holmen said. “And that makes it a little more special even, but in the end we didn’t change anything. It’s just how we lined up and, again, they’re playing so hard to make a play and we were fortunate to get deep on ’em.”
Said Jacob Holmen: “It’s great. It’s fun sharing this experience with (my father) on the sideline and I know that since I’ve worked with him enough, he has trust in me.”
Both Holmens heaped praise on yet another stellar defensive performance by the Magicians (8-0 overall, 5-0 region). MHS senior linebacker Kolton Larson led the team with 13 tackles and senior defensive backs Josh Pizzo and Jordan Seideman came up with huge plays late to keep Minot High in the game and preserve the lead.
Century (5-2, 3-2) made the last 22 seconds uncomfortable for the home team beginning with a 37-yard pass from sophomore Dalton Feeney to senior Aaron Doan. The play moved the Patriots out of bounds at the MHS 27-yard line with 13.1 seconds left. Feeney then had two shots at the end zone to targets taller than 6 feet but Pizzo was there to break up both.
“I don’t know how many years in a row,” Century coach Ron Wingenbach said. “They all come down to the final minute or the final quarter. They made the plays at the end. We had an opportunity to soak the game away there.”
It appeared Century would have its way behind a much larger offensive line, which plowed 54 yards on the game’s opening drive. Larson ended the possession with his fourth interception of the season on a lunging grab at his own 1-yard line.
Minot returned the favor when Lampert fumbled on the Magicians’ first drive, giving Century the ball just inside MHS territory. Sophomore linebacker Matthew Marler sacked Feeney on the next play and Century punted for a touchback following a three-and-out.
On Minot’s next play, sophomore quarterback Ben Bolinske threw a perfect strike to senior Tre Kinchen for an 80-yard score. Kinchen ran a slant from the left and Bolinske threw a 30-yard dart over a well-positioned cornerback and into the outstretched arms of the speedy receiver.
Century answered in the second quarter with a 12-play, 54-yard drive capped by a 4-yard TD run by Feeney. The Patriots used more than six minutes on the march.
Senior kicker Dominic Neameyer, who kicked a 41-yard field goal to beat MHS last year, hit from the same distance early in the third quarter to give Century a 10-7 lead.
“We were struggling so much,” Barry Holmen said. “We had so many plays in the third and fourth quarter for loss and so we got plenty to clean up offensively. We were real fortunate to get a couple first downs there that last possession.”
The final MHS drive started after a Century touchback with 1:58 remaining. The Patriots were forced to punt after Seideman made a diving pass breakup on a deep throw into the red zone.
Bolinske, who has shown an ability to improvise all season, found Kinchen on a fourth-and-11 for a first down at the MHS 36. A 15-yard pass to Kinchen followed on a 3rd-and-12 to set up the gutsy play call. Jacob Holmen snagged the quick lateral toss from Bolinske and received a key block from senior receiver Kimani Benjamin. Lampert was wide open up the left sideline.
“We’ve practiced that multiple times and I never saw it being put into play, honestly,” Lampert said. “Jacob was a quarterback back in his prime and we knew it was gonna happen. I envisioned it being a touchdown right as we called the play.”
By “in his prime” Lampert was referring to Jacob Holmen as a quarterback for Ramstad Middle School.
Jacob Holmen said the position is still in his blood. His father was a senior quarterback when MHS last won a state title in 1980. The younger Holmen also had two catches for 16 yards.
“Good teams win those kind of football games and hopefully we proved tonight that we’re a good team,” Jacob Holmen said. “It’s just a great emotional high right now. It’s great to beat those guys. They’re a great football team.”
Neither team had much success on the ground. Lampert led MHS with 50 yards on 13 carries and Feeney led Century with 32 yards on 11 touches. Bolinske had one of his best games through the air, finishing 14 of 24 for a game-high 223 yards. Kinchen caught eight of those balls for a game-high 131 yards.
The Magicians finish the regular season at Bismarck High on Friday for the West Region title.
Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.