Mahnomen machine works past Braham in State quarterfinals

Avery Fairbanks was a workhorse in the State quarters for Mahnomen, rushing 35 times for 235 yards and 2 TD in the 30-6 victory. Photos & story by Greg Hunt

Mahnomen rolled to a 22-0 halftime lead and into the Minnesota Class A Football semifinals by defeating Braham 30-6 in the Nov. 11 quarters held on a gorgeous evening in Duluth.

“Their offensive line and blocking schemes were very impressive,” said Bomber Coach Shawn Kuhnke of the Mahnomen attack. “Their triple option was run with great precision.”

The Indians drove 65 yards on the opening possession on the legs of halfback Avery Fairbanks who slid into the end zone on a 17-yard run for the early 6-0 lead. Braham answered right back with an impressive drive that gave indications of a possible shootout for the fans, but the Bombers were denied when a 4th-and-4 pass went incomplete in the end zone.

Mahnomen then stacked up 95 more yards of offense to take a 14-0 lead on an 11-yard pitch play. The Indians almost scored again on their next possession, but Braham’s Tyler Vaughan stripped the ball from QB Jacob Pavek at the Braham 7. The Bombers were forced to punt with 2:00 left in the half, however, and Mahnomen found pay dirt by driving 41 yards with Pavek bouncing in for the TD with only 17.5 seconds remaining for the 22-0 edge.

Tyler Vaughan stopped Mahnomen QB Jacob Pavek’s quest for the goal line late in the second quarter, with Vaughan stripping the ball at the Braham 7.

Braham’s second half couldn’t have started worse after a long loss on a reverse, a sack then an interception on a screen pass. The Bomber defense held, then the offense began a good drive. They were inside the Mahnomen 20 when an apparent 4th-down conversion was wiped out by a holding call. The subsequent 4th-and-16 lob to Shaun Hollencamp was defended by three Indians in the end zone.

“Our guys have played hard the whole year. There was no give-up in them at all. They have competed and gave it their all throughout the entire season. I am very proud of our guys,” said Coach Kuhnke on the fight the Bombers displayed at Duluth.

Fairbanks capped off his big night with two more sturdy runs, including gliding for an 11-yard score which made it 30-0 with 8:32 to play. Mahnomen went on to own a 363-47 rushing advantage over the Bombers.

Braham's 4th-down shot to Shaun Hollencamp in the end zone was denied by the Mahnomen defense in the third quarter.

Braham (9-2) finally cracked the scoreboard when Hollencamp hauled in a 30-yard post from Vaughan at the 3:13 mark of the fourth quarter.

Mahnomen (12-0) moves on to the Metrodome for the Nov. 18  ‘A’ semifinals against Sleepy Eye, a 34-15 winner over Adrian. In the other half of the brackets, Blooming Prairie take on Dawson-Boyd in the Nov. 19 semis at the Dome.

“We had great senior leadership this season. Our nine seniors have worked so hard to be their absolute best since last November! I could not have asked for more from this team,” finished Coach Kuhnke.

Class A State: Bomber Stats vs Mahnomen

Rushing: Vaughan 20/42; Ambrose 2/6; Strelow 4/5.  Passing: Vaughan 23/13/1- 163 yds, TD.  Receiving: Ambrose 6/78; Hollencamp 5/62, TD; Mattson 1/22; Strelow 1/2.  Tackles/Assists: Hammond 9/2, Sward 9/0, Vaughan 8.5/1, Strelow 7.5/3, Braund 7.5/1, Ambrose 5/0, Mattson 3.5/1, Hollencamp 3/0, Stigen 2/0.  Kicking: Vaughan 2 punts, 42.0 avg/2 kickoffs 26.5 avg.