Firebirds hold Braves scoreless in the 2nd half, rally for the 24-16 win

Chris Harris, DLJ Sports

There are no alarm clocks in football so when when a team comes out of the locker room lethargic, it usually have negative effects. In its game against Turtle Mountain Community High School Friday, Aug. 30, the wake up call for Devils Lake came at halftime.

The difference over the final two quarters were like — well — night and day.

The Firebirds got two touchdowns apiece from Joey Frelich and Austin Devier and scored 18 unanswered points on the Braves in the second half to come away with the 24-16 win in the North Dakota High School Activities Association Class 2A football opener for both teams.

“Because of our schedule, we didn’t have any live scrimmages against another team so I think we kind of had to get use to that pace of play, just realizing what Friday night lights live action is, playing against another team,” said Firebirds head coach Jake Wateland. “We just didn’t come out and play as physical as we wanted to on both sides of the ball.”

Despite scoring on their opening drive, the Firebirds fell behind late in the first quarter when Jeremiah LaVallie scored on a 5 yard touchdown run and in the second quarter a tipped Michael Widmer pass fell into the hands of defensive end Darrick Frederick who returned it for a 67-yard pick-six. The Braves converted on both two-point conversions and led by 10 at the break.

“We had the ball bounce the wrong way, we turned the ball over a couple of times and then in the second half, our senior leadership kind of came out, we figured things out and re-established what we wanted to do,” Wateland said.

The Firebirds (1-0) took the opening possession of the third quarter 59 yards that ended with Ben Hellman’s strike to Devier from 4 yards out that pulled Devils Lake to within four. Two possessions later, Frelich’s second touchdown run of the night capped off a 5 play, 39-yard drive that gave the Firebirds their first lead of the since the 6:44 mark of the first quarter.

Frelich carried the ball 26 times for 165 yards.

The Firebirds turned a fourth quarter Braves fumble into a 32-yard touchdown play from Heilman to Devier that proved to be enough as the defense stopped Braves (0-1) quarterback Keisin Peltier 1 yard shy on a untimed down to end the game.

“I have to give their quarterback (Peltier) all the credit. That guy is a top tier athlete in the state,” Wateland said.

Peltier was 6-of-9 passing and carried the ball 16 times to finish with 275 yards (173 rushing) of total offense.

“That’s what’s great about Week 1, is that we always can get better. Turtle Mountain is a good team, but we have a lot of things to clean up on both sides of the ball so we’ll watch film and get to work right away,” said Wateland.

The Firebirds will be on the road the next two weeks beginning at No. 4 Beulah on Friday and at Watford City on Friday, Sept. 13.

Chris Harris can be reached at and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ

Turtle Mountain Community HS at Devils Lake box score

TMCHS 8 8 0 0 — 16

Devils Lake 6 0 12 6 — 24

First Quarter

DL — Frelich 1 run (run failed), 6:44.

TMCHS — LaVallie 5 run (Monette pass from Peltier), 2:47.

Second Quarter

TMCHS — Frederick 63 INT return (LaVallie run), 7:45.

Third Quarter

DL — Devier 5 pass from Heilman (run failed), 8:25.

DL — Frelich 11 run (pass failed), 1:59.

Fourth Quarter

DL — Devier 32 pass from Heilman (run failed), 10:15.