Polk County West beats East Grand Forks in double overtime

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Polk County West kicker Cullen Rohrich (center) celebrates with teammates and fans after his overtime kick put the Thunder over the East Grand Forks Green Wave 21-20 during an exhibition football game Friday night in East Grand Forks. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

If you have one last game before a state-mandated shutdown, you might as well get in a few extra plays while you're at it.

In double overtime, Polk County West used a Sam Gapp 5-yard quarterback sweep to score a touchdown and a Cullen Rohrich extra-point kick gave the Thunder a 21-20 victory over East Grand Forks Senior High on Friday in East Grand Forks.

Polk County West is a co-op between East Grand Forks Sacred Heart and Climax-Fisher. The last time the Green Wave played Sacred Heart in football was a 36-0 win for Senior High in 1972.

The game was scheduled Thursday night.

On Wednesday, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced emergency executive orders -- in an attempt to slow the ongoing coronavirus pandemic -- to essentially halt Minnesota high school football and volleyball.


The executive orders were set to begin Saturday. With Minnesota football teams planning to play Saturday, most teams moved games up to Friday to play before the deadline.

Polk County West was expecting to play Mahnomen in the Section 8A semifinals but Mahnomen notified PCW late Thursday that a COVID-19 issue would require a forfeit. Fortunately for the Thunder, Senior High was without a weekend game because Perham had opted not to play the Green Wave in a playoff bracket revision for Minnesota Section 8AAA.

"I told the guys we have nothing to lose," PCW coach Darrin Byklum said. "We're happy to have a game. They definitely weren't intimidated. It was a great game by two evenly matched teams."

PCW hadn't played in four weeks due to COVID-19 issues.

The Thunder struck first on an interception returned for a touchdown as PCW's Sam Gapp picked off East Grand Forks' Sam Votava.

PCW then opened the second half with a seven-minute drive to push the lead to 14-0.

The Green Wave, though, rallied to force overtime.

In the first overtime, East Grand Forks stopped Polk County West on its offensive series. The Wave countered down to the 3 but a game-winning kick attempt was blocked on fourth down.


In the second overtime, the Wave scored first. After a fumble and a holding penalty gave EGF a third-and-goal from the 27, Votava connected with wide receiver Brody Schultz for a 27-yard touchdown. The extra point was blocked, giving the ball to the Thunder with the Wave leading 20-14.

Like the Wave, the Thunder backed up deep in double overtime. But on second-and-goal from the 28, Gapp found Landon Denney for a one-handed catch and a 23-yard gain down to the 5.

"Landon is a diamond in the rough," Byklum said. "That was a big play by that young man."

On third-and-goal from the 5, Gapp ran it in for the tie. Rohrich kicked the extra point for the win.

Polk County West 21, EGF Senior High 20, 2 OT

First quarter

PCW -- Sam Gapp 28 interception (Cullen Rohrich kick)

Third quarter

PCW -- Gapp 1 run (Rohrich kick)


Fourth quarter

EGF -- Cole Gerber 9 pass from Sam Votava (Justin Overgaard kick)

EGF -- Votava 24 run (Overgaard kick)

Second overtime

EGF -- Brody Schultz 27 pass from Votava (kick failed)

PCW -- Gapp 5 run (Rohrich kick)


Rushing -- PCW: Gapp 18-123, Gage Wavra 6-25, Mike Gapp 2-9; EGF: Carter Vasek 25-86, Votava 8-42, Caleb Schmiedeberg 6-31


Passing -- PCW: Sam Gapp 6-10-0, 82; EGF: Votava 8-15-1, 72

Receiving -- PCW -- Gage Wavra 2-19, Adam Sczepanski 2-12; EGF: Brody Schultz 3-32, Vasek 2-12, Gerber 2-12

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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