WEST FARGO-Several mistakes made by the West Fargo High School special teams led to the second consecutive loss for the Packers.
Two botched punt returns and a kickoff return helped Bismarck (2-0), which struggled at times to move the ball on offense, grab the 25-18 victory over the Packers (0-2) on Friday.
"The returners catch the ball all the time. They've been catching them in practice, so you don't have any idea that it's not going to go your way," said West Fargo head coach Jay Gibson. "Sometimes you get a mental block."
Bismarck capitalized on the Packers' mistakes on special teams and punched at their defense with senior running back Jaxon Ford, who carried the ball 26 times for 120 yards.
"They're a big defense. They're very physical, and the guys were flying around and they were hitting me pretty good so give it to them. They played their hearts out, too. We just ended up on top tonight," Ford said.
The Packers struck first with 5 minutes, 57 seconds left in the first quarter when quarterback Creighton Pfau completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Haboniman Simon. A 2-point conversion was no good but West Fargo took the lead 6-0.
After a Bismarck field goal late in the second quarter, West Fargo increased its lead to 12-3 after Pfau ran for an 80-yard touchdown. A special teams hiccup by the Packers canceled out Pfau's big run after Ford went on an 85-yard kickoff return to cut the lead to two heading into halftime.
In the second half, West Fargo recovered after letting Bismarck take a 16-12 lead in the third quarter with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Pfau to receiver Michael Yeanay.
A mistake on offense would ultimately cost the Packers the game. Pfau fumbled the ball in the red zone and Bismarck's Brayden Gieser scooped up the loose ball and ran it in for a touchdown.
Bismarck scored most of its points, with the exception of a 4-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jordan Mann, on special teams or defense.
"I thought our defense and our special teams were the difference in the game tonight," said Bismarck head coach Mark Gibson. "I thought offensively we never got in a flow, but you gotta credit them on that. They're really physical up front and we preached about it all week how physical it was gonna be, and our kids weren't ready for it. They punched us is the mouth and we didn't punch back for a while but we had a lot of breaks today, and thank God because if not there's no way we win this game today."
B 0 10 6 9-25
WF 6 6 6 0-18
FIRST QUARTER: WF, Pfau pass to Simon, 16 yards. Pass failed.
SECOND QUARTER: B, Johnson field goal. WF, Pfau 80-yard run. Run failed. B, Ford 85-yard kickoff return. PAT failed.
THIRD QUARTER: B, Mann 4-yard run. Run failed. WF, Pfau pass to Yeanay, 30 yards. Pass failed.
FOURTH QUARTER: B, Gieser fumble recovery, 10 yards. Run failed. B, Johnson field goal.
RUSHING: WF, Pfau 17-131, Teiken 12-30, Czerwinski 2-1, Franek 1-1. B, Ford 26-120, Butts 1-14. Jochim 1-5, Siverson 1-4, Irey 1-3, Mann 10-(-5).
PASSING: WF, Pfau 7-17-1-111, 2 TD. B, Mann 6-7-0-34,
RECEIVING: WF, Simon 3-37, Yeanay 1-30, Wibbels 2-28, Talley 1-16. B, Ford 3-24, Siverson 2-9, Sullivan 1-1.