Brinker's pass lifts BOLD to 20-18 double overtime win in Class 2A championship

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MINNEAPOLIS — A late-season position switch paid off nicely for Nathan Brinker and Holdingford.

Lined up as a running back, Brinker connected with quarterback Austin Gerads for an 8-yard touchdown in double overtime, giving Holdingford a 20-18 edge over BOLD to win the Class 2A state title Friday at the Prep Bowl.

It is the school's first title since 1981, and the first Prep Bowl double-overtime game since 1998.

On a direct snap to Brinker, he looked to throw right, but went back to his left and threw to a diving Gerads for the lead. Matt Messman then scored on the 2-point conversion.

"When I rolled left I was either going to run or pass, but Gerads made a good read to get open and I threw the ball to him," said Brinker, who played guard on offense until the Huskers (11-3) second playoff game.

But BOLD (12-2) still had a chance to come back.

Ben Steffel scored from 7 yards out, but quarterback Lane Stadther was pressured and fumbled on the 2-point try.

Holdingford coach Luke Mitchell said they switched Brinker to the backfield to provide an offensive spark.

"He's big, he's fast, he's physical, he's tough. He has everything you look for in a football player," Mitchell said.

In five games since the switch, Brinker has run the ball 31 times for 401 yards — including 15 carries for 73 yards in the Prep Bowl — and scored eight touchdowns. A two-way player all season, he also led the team this year with 138 tackles.

The game nearly ended multiple times before Brinker's heroics.

Brad Wolff scored on a 4-yard touchdown run with about 3 minutes to play in regulation to give BOLD — a school district serving Bird Island, Olivia and Lake Lillian — a 6-0 lead. But the snap on the extra point was high and the subsequent run for two points failed.

Holdingford tied the game as regulation expired on Gerads' 10-yard run, but their extra point kick was blocked.

Wolff, who rushed for 103 yards, scored in the first overtime for a 12-6 BOLD lead, but the extra point hit the uprights. Brinker then scored to tie the game again, but Holdingford missed the 2-point conversion.

"We could have quit, but this team keeps fighting and clawing our way back into the game," Gerads said.

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