Elk River running back Carter Otto. Photo by Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune
Well after the conclusion of Friday’s record-smashing game, the football field at Buffalo high school remained clogged with players, coaches and fans from both teams, few of whom seemed interested in leaving.
They were still soaking up the evening’s events: a marvelous, exhausting, stats-book-stuffing 80-70 victory for visiting Elk River. The game is believed to have set a state record for combined points with 150. Twenty-one touchdowns were scored, 11 by the Elks. The two teams combined to put up 1,334 yards of total offense. Though the game took more than three hours to complete, people were in no hurry to go home.
Elk River coach Steve Hamilton is accustomed to his team putting up a lot of points. With a trademark rushing attack designed to spring long gains, the Elks topped 60 points three times in 2017, with a high of 71. But even he was a little incredulous by game’s end Friday.
“I told you it would be a long night,” he said, laughing. “What is it, Saturday already?”
After turning the ball over on its initial drive, Elk River ironed out the kinks and found the end zone on its next 11 possessions. “After our second drive, we knew that when we touched the ball, we were going to score on every drive,” Elk River running back Arik Nordenstrom said.
Nordenstrom ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns, one of three Elk River running backs to rack up least 100 yards rushing. Adam Nelson had 268 and scored twice and sophomore Carter Otto added 100, along with three scores. In all, the Elks put up 636 yards of offense, all on the ground.
Buffalo was nearly as good. Quarterback Aidan Bouman completed 40 of 55 passes for 555 yards and eight touchdowns. Those eye-popping totals resulted are believed to have tied two more single-game state records, for passing yards and touchdown passes.
In three games this season, Bouman, a 6-foot-5 junior who has committed to Iowa State, has passed for 1,295 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Bouman wasn’t alone. Receiver Jack Munsterteiger caught 19 of those passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns. And Treyton Welch added 11 receptions for 170 yards and four scores, including a stunning one-handed catch in the end zone that pulled Buffalo within eight, 72-64.
“They’re a great team,” Nordenstrom said. “They throw the ball like no one else. I truly believe they’re one of the best teams in the state.”
Buffalo scored first and made very few mistakes, but against a team like Elk River, even one miscue can be disastrous. After Elk River took an 8-7 lead on an 80-yard scoring run by Nelson, the Elks forced Buffalo into the game’s only punt. Kevin Egbujor raced in and blocked it, leading to a touchdown and a 16-7 advantage two plays later.
“They score 56 points every game they play,” Buffalo coach Todd Bouman said. “To stay with them in points, you need to stay ahead of them by one score, and that’s something we couldn’t do tonight.”
Approaching a reporter afterward, Bouman gave a pensive grin, reflecting both the disappointment in coming up short despite scoring 70 points and the realization that he had been a part of something special.
“It’s discouraging when you lose, and I feel for my guys, but it’s exciting to be involved in a game like this,” Bouman said.