BISMARCK 28, FARGO SOUTH 19 Demons win West's first state championship since 2001. GRAND FORKS, N.D. - There is a new king in Class 3A. Jake Miller had 108 rushing yards, and scored a late defensive touchdown to seal the outcome, as Bismarck ende...
BISMARCK 28, FARGO SOUTH 19
Demons win West's first state championship since 2001.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - There is a new king in Class 3A.
Jake Miller had 108 rushing yards, and scored a late defensive touchdown to seal the outcome, as Bismarck ended Fargo South's two-year run atop the division with a 28-19 victory Saturday night in the North Dakota Class 3A championship game at the Alerus Center.
"At Bismarck, we pride ourselves on defense," said Miller, whose team earned its first state title, and the first for a team from the West since 2001. "We've got a heck of a defense coordinator ... He gets us ready every week to come out and perform and execute."
South sputtered on offense throughout the first half, picking up four illegal procedure penalties on its second possession.
It didn't matter early, as South sophomore defensive back Adam Boe returned an interception of an Esley Thorton pass 49 yards for a score to put the Bruins ahead
Bismarck went to its power running game to grab momentum.
Miller shined as the Demons rumbled through the South defense en route to the go-ahead score.
Miller ran seven times for 42 yards on a grinding 14-play Bismarck scoring drive early in the second quarter.
Junior fullback Carson Winkels scored on a 2-yard run to put the Demons ahead 7-6 with 8:04 remaining in the first half.
Bismarck went ahead 14-6 on a
51-yard Austin Gunderson interception return on South's next offensive possession.
The pick came on Bruins quarterback Brock Larson's first pass attempt of the game.
South's dominant running game finished the first half with 107 yards on 23 carries. The Demons kept pace with 113 yards on 21 carries.
"Their defense played all right, but we killed ourselves," South senior running back Brandon Jemison said. "We shot ourselves in the foot numerous times. And that just killed us in the end."
Jemison, who finished with 124 yards on 26 carries, capped a 12-play South drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to cut Bismarck's lead to 14-12 early in the fourth quarter.
The Demons capitalized on South's biggest mistake of the night when senior defensive end Dustin Steckler recovered a fumbled punt attempt at the Bruins' 3-yard line.
Bismarck appeared to wrap up the game when Thorton made the score 21-12 on a 1-yard run with 3:19 remaining.
But South wasn't finished.
Sophomore quarterback Brock Larson connected with receiver Derek Holt for a 79-yard pass to make the score 21-19 on the first play of its next possession.
Miller officially sealed the Bismarck win when he stepped in front of an attempted hook-and-ladder pitch from Holt to Jemison, and ran 11-yards for the score with 1:14 on the clock.
"We knew that was coming sometime. They needed a big play, and we figured the hook and ladder would come sometime soon," Miller said. "I saw them hook up, then I saw Jemison come in the flat and I figured that was the play."
South outgained the Demons 324-198 on offense.
However, the Bruins finished with five turnovers.
"They just have a good number of athletes out there," Jemison said. "They played fundamentally sound and we just didn't execute very well."
Bismarck 0 14 0 14-28
Fargo South 6 0 0 13-19
FS-Boe 49 interception return (kick blocked)
B-Winkels 2 run (Krueger kick)
B-Gunderson 51 interception return (Krueger kick)
FS-Jemison 3 run (pass failed)
B-Thorton 1 run (Krueger kick)
FS-Holt 79 pass from Larson (Roesler kick)
B-Miller 9 fumble return (Krueger kick)
RUSHING: B, Miller 25-108, Thorton 13-34, Winkels 6-12. FS, Jemison 26-124, Seltvedt 12-77, Jochim 1-15, Callahan 1-7, Larson 1-0, Holt 1-(-17).
PASSING: B, Thorton 5-9-1 44 yards. FS, Larson 7-18-2 118.
RECEIVING: B, Krueger 4-33, Miller 1-11. FS, Holt 2-90, Wawers 3-11, Jemison 1-11, Callahan 1-6.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562.
Hotzler's blogs can be found at www.areavoices.com