Minot High running back Adrian Davis-Aguilar didn’t save his longest run for the playoffs, just his most important one.
In a game that had turned into a slugfest in the trenches, Davis-Aguilar darted 68 yards for the game-deciding touchdown as Minot claimed a 14-10 playoff victory over Century on the road.
Davis-Aguilar’s touchdown put Minot ahead 14-7 in the middle of the third quarter, and neither team reached the end zone again. Century’s Austin Underhill booted a 28-yard field goal in the fourth period for the final points of the game.
Davis-Aguilar, who has a time of 11.12 seconds to his credit in the 100 meters, didn’t score on a straight sprint. He made a couple of cuts along the way and had to break an attempted tackle by Century’s Cade Feeney inside the 10-yard line.
“(The play) was well-executed. The linemen blocked perfectly and I saw it and went for it,” said Davis-Aguilar, a 5-foot-8, 155-pound senior. “I saw a blocker and didn’t want to get in his way and I made a couple of other (cuts) to avoid tackles.”
Davis-Aguilar said he had no way of knowing his score would ultimately be the game-winner.
“I knew we needed to score, but I didn’t think that much about the impact down the line,” he said.
Minot head coach Barry Holmen said Davis-Aguilar is the only player on the roster with the speed to make such a play.
“Adrian is quite an athlete. He’s the one kid on our team who could do what he did,” Holmen said.
Davis-Aguilar’s long run was by far the biggest gainer of the night.
Minot had a 22-yard scoring run by Brett Davis and a 24-yard pass completion. Century’s longest gain was a Jakob Olson-to-Kade Lynch pass on Century’s final possession of the game.
Davis’ dash to paydirt closed out Minot’s first possession of the game. The Magicians made the most of a 15-to-20 mph easterly wind that accompanied temperatures in the 20s by electing to take the wind and give Century the ball to start the game.
Century was forced to punt from its own 18 after taking the opening kickoff, and Minot took over on the CHS 40.
Senior running back Dylan Danielson picked up 10 and three yards to move the ball to the Century 27, and quarterback Creighton Rudolph ran the ball to the 22.
On the next play, Davis got free on the left side and scored standing up with 8:40 to play in the first quarter.
The defense made a big play as Century, the two-time defending state AAA champion, knotted the score in the middle of the second period. Defensive back Cauy Kling tipped a Rudolph pass, which was pulled down by defensive lineman Tanner Thorsness. Thorsness rambled nine yards four a touchdown and Underhill kicked the game-tying extra point.
That’s the way things stood until Davis-Aguilar captured lightning in a bottle.
The wind tilted the field sharply to the west. Davis-Aguilar’s TD and Kyler Stenberg’s extra point accounted for the only points scored into the wind.
With the wind at its back, Minot played almost the entire first period on Century’s side of the 50-yard line and had one drive fizzle at the Century 27 due to a fumble.
Century scored on the interception in the second period and had a shot at taking the lead late in the second period when Underhill came up short on a 48-yard field goal attempt.
Minot put together the longest drive of the second half, marching 47 yards to the Century 24 before losing the ball on downs. That drive was effectively the game-clincher, eating 5:47 off the clock. The Patriots got the ball back with just 22 seconds left on the clock.
With Danielson fighting his way to 94 yards on 24 carries, Minot moved the ball 237 yards on the ground and finished with 267 yards of total offense. The Magicians built a 14-9 advantage in first downs.
Century carved out just 48 yards in 28 runs against Minot’s defense, a unit that had surrendered 37 points to West Fargo Sheyenne a week earlier in the quarterfinals. The Patriots finished with 155 yards of total offense.
“Our defense did an outstanding job. We lined up, we played hard and we really did an excellent job of stopping the run,” Holmen said. “And getting that stop just before halftime was big.”
Century head coach Ron Wingenbach said Minot was able to muster just enough offense against his formidable defensive unit to turn the tide.
“They were able to run the ball just well enough to get a few first downs,” Wingenbach said. “We played hard, and that’s all you can ask.”
The Patriots ran only 48 offensive plays to Minot’s 57.
Century’s season ends at 9-2. Minot, 8-3, advances to the Dakota Bowl AAA championship game against West Fargo for the third time in five seasons. The Magicians last won a state championship in 1980.