Jason Hoekstra threw for 261 yards and five touchdown passes to lead No. 5-ranked Legacy to a wild 44-42 win over No. 2-ranked West Fargo Sheyenne on Friday night at the MDU Resources Community Bowl.
But his biggest play of the day covered a matter of inches.
Hoekstra dug through a pile of bodies at the goal-line for a game-winning quarterback sneak touchdown with 17 seconds left.
“Dive down, close my eyes and try to stretch about one yard,” Hoekstra said. “It worked.”
The Sabers prevailed in a wild back-and-forth contest with a West Fargo Sheyenne team coming off a last-second win over defending state champ Century last week.
“That was an eventful game,” Hoekstra said. “No matter the outcome, that’s the kind of game I’d love to be a part of. The type of games we like to play.”
It was more enjoyable for the Sabers in getting the win.
The Sabers piled up 459 yards total offense in outgunning the Mustangs.
“There’s ebbs and flows of football games when you’ve got two good football teams,” Legacy coach Chris Clements said. “We went through a lot of adversity in this game. We had some guys go down in this game, some captains go down that I’m worried about.
“We had some kids step up. We had some sophomores that played big minutes tonight. The resiliency of our kids right now is unbelievable.”
West Fargo Sheyenne took control early in the second half, turning a one-point halftime deficit into a 35-23 lead.
Jason Gaulrapp’s fourth touchdown of the game – he rushed for 102 yards on 22 carries – combined with a 49-yard burst by Hunter Hoffner put West Fargo Sheyenne in command.
But Legacy’s Jacob Hudson recovered a fumble deep in Mustangs territory late in the third, and two plays later Hoekstra hit Austin Wolf with a 15-yard scoring strike to pull the Sabers within 35-30.
With 3:09 remaining, Legacy regained the lead on a 6-yard TD pass from Hoekstra to Devin Beck.
But 12 seconds later, the Mustangs were back in the lead on a Parker Sander 69-yard strike to Caden Jastram.
Legacy mounted one last drive, converting two fourth downs along the way before Hoekstra’s game-winning plunge from just outside the goal line.
“Players make plays, right? Jason’s the type of kid that’s going to make those plays,” Clements said.
“We had some other kids that stepped up tonight. Kai Fogliano-Hon made some big plays, we had some guys step up on defense and make some big plays and they were running over us and we had some sophomores step up and play very well. We had a lot of kids that played their hearts out tonight.”
Legacy struck quickly, taking the opening possession and marching 71 yards in six plays. Jason Hoekstra connected with Kai Fogliano-Hon on a 20-yard scoring strike. Matt Kraft added a two-point run and the Sabers led 8-0.
Legacy’s defense stopped the Mustangs near midfield on West Fargo Sheyenne’s opening drive, but the Mustangs pounced on a muffed punt and regained possession at the Legacy 22. Five plays later, Jason Gaulrupp scored on a 4-yard run. Sean Fenelon’s PAT kick made it 8-7 Legacy.
The Sabers responded with a 75-yard, five-play scoring drive capped by a big play. Hoekstra lofted a beautiful pass to Austin Wolf along the left sideline, and Wolf spun away from pair of Mustang defenders and sprinted to the end zone for a 50-yard TD pass. Kraft’s two-point run made it a 16-7 Sabers advantage.
West Fargo Sheyenne took the lead in the second quarter. Gaulrapp scored from 5 yards out with 9:03 left to pull the Mustangs within 16-15. After a Legacy three and out, the Mustangs went 67 yards in six plays, capped by a 3-yard Gaulrupp run. Fenelon’s kick made it 22-16 Mustangs.
But the Sabers struck on the final play of the half to retake the lead.
Facing fourth-and-10 at the WF Sheyenne 12, Legacy called a timeout and set up for a final play. Hoekstra connected with Wolf on a 12-yard TD pass, and Wolf’s PAT kick gave the Sabers the lead at the intermission, 23-22.