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Stingy defense, big play by Olson leads West Central Area-Ashby to win over proud Barnesville program

A fourth-quarter 46-yard touchdown pass from Evan Paulson to Torin Olson helped the Knights come back from a 12-6 halftime deficit against a Barnesville team that went 7-0 last season.

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WCA-Ashby's Torin Olson fights through a tackle in the season opener against Barnesville Friday, Sept. 3, 2021 in Barrett. Olson led the Knights to a 14-12 win with 118 yards receiving and a touchdown on four catches. (Brooke Kern / Grant County Herald)

The West Central Area-Ashby football team was locked up in a close game from start to finish in its season opener last Friday, and the Knights came out on the right side of things in a 14-12 win over Barnesville.

“I think the biggest key was kind of intangible,” head coach Nate Wood said. “The kids believed we would win and kept believing the whole game.”

It took a late touchdown to get it done after both defenses shined much of the night. Explosive plays were at a premium on the night, but quarterback Evan Paulson and senior Torin Olson connected for one on a 46-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the game winner.

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WCA/A junior Anthony Sykora flexes after a 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter on Sept. 3, 2021. (Brooke Kern / Grant County Herald)

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Barnesville, which went 7-0 in 2020 and is a Midwest (White) District opponent with WCA, led 14-12 at the half. Anthony Sykora had the Knights’ first-half touchdown as he ran in a score from 29 yards out.

The Knights gained 214 yards of total offense and held Barnesville to 153. Olson led the way with 118 yards receiving on four catches as Paulson completed 6-of-14 passes for 143 yards, the touchdown to Olson and no interceptions.

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Carson Spangler (12) celebrates a sack on the Barnesville QB. Also in on the play for WCA are Sam Heeter (61), Nas Dotts (15) and Colton Lindquist (52). (Brooke Kern / Grant County Herald)

West Central Area will go to Staples-Motley for the second game of the season on Sept. 10 with a 7 p.m. kickoff. It’s the first matchup of the season against a fellow Section 6AA opponent.

BARNESVILLE 6 6 0 0 - 12

WCA-ASHBY 6 0 0 8 - 14

TEAM STATS - Barnesville - Total offense - 35-153; Rushing - 32-153; Penalties - 4-25; Turnovers - 3; Time of possession - 27:28; WCA-ASHBY - Total offense - 38-214; Penalties - 4-20; Turnovers - 1; Time of possession - 20:32

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WCA OFFENSE - Passing - Evan Paulson - 6-14, 143 yards, TD; Brady Lindquist - 0-1, INT; Receiving - Torin Olson - 4-118, TD; Hunter Norby - 1-17; Anthony Sykora - 1-8; Rushing - Anthony Sykora - 7-34, TD; Evan Paulson - 4-27; Mattson Hoff - 5-17; Tyler Stone - 1-0; Hunter Norby - 6-(-7)

WCA-ASHBY DEFENSE - Carson Spangler - 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL; Mattson Hoff - 5 tackles, 1 TFL; Tyler Stone - 4 tackles, 2 TFL; Beau Robinson - 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL; Torin Olson - 2 tackles, 1 TFL; Sam Heeter - 2 tackles; Isaac Kreft - 2 tackles; Brady Lindquist - 1 tackle; Anthony Sykora - 1 tackle; Nas Dotts - 1 tackle; Hunter Norby - 1 tackle; Colton Lindquist - 1 tackle

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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