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Valley City reaches first title game since '36

VALLEY CITY -- They've been waiting for this for a little while. The anticipation for the Class AA football semifinals was unavoidable in Valley City on Saturday, with seemingly every storefront on Main Street and Central Avenue bearing signs che...

VALLEY CITY -- They've been waiting for this for a little while. The anticipation for the Class AA football semifinals was unavoidable in Valley City on Saturday, with seemingly every storefront on Main Street and Central Avenue bearing signs cheering on the Hi-Liners.

And after top-ranked Valley City took apart No. 4 Hazen 35-0, earning a state championship game berth for the first time since 1936, Hi-Liner hysteria will likely reach an all-time high.

"It's crazy," said Valley City senior running back Derek Elliott. "This town is going crazy, because we haven't done this in a long time. It's a great thing for Valley City."

As usual, Elliott caused his share of excitement, rushing for 170 yards on 15 carries.

Whenever the Hi-Liners (11-0) needed a first down or just to give the offense a boost, Valley City gave Elliott the ball and pointed him right. It worked pretty much every time.

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"Our blockers did a great job sweeping to the right," Elliott said. "They just helped open the room, and I just did what I could."

Things started out badly for Hazen (9-2) and seemingly kept getting worse all afternoon.

Bison quarterback Brent Sorensen fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, and Valley City's Derek Kohler recovered, setting up the Hi-Liners on the Hazen 32-yard line.

On first down, Marc DeLorme hit Jonathan Strang for a 22-yard gain -- the only successful pass completion by either team in the game. Two plays later, Kohler scored on a 3-yard run, and Valley City led 8-0.

With seven seconds left in the first quarter, Sorensen seemed to turn the momentum with an interception. But Hazen -- which had trouble with penalties all day -- was flagged for roughing the passer.

The Hi-Liners took full advantage of the reprieve, extending their lead to 16-0 two plays later on a 9-yard TD run by Jordan Thomsen.

The Bison's hopes for a comeback dimmed considerably when Sorensen suffered a concussion with 8:50 to play in the second quarter. He did not return.

Without Sorensen -- a 1,000-yard rusher who already had picked up 53 yards -- Hazen's option was no longer an option.

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"We got ourselves in a little bit of a hole early, but I thought we righted it and corrected some things for awhile," Hazen coach Rick Philion said. "But when you lose your dude, it's tough."

It was still a two-score game heading into the fourth quarter, but Elliott put it out of reach. On a third-and-eight, he took a toss and got to the right sideline for a 22-yard score, making it 22-0 with 11:53 to go.

Then the Valley City defense rose up. Jade Olstad scooped up a fumble and returned it 36 yards for a score with 10:29 left.

After another Bison fumble -- Hazen's fourth turnover of the game -- DeLorme capped the scoring with a 5-yard run.

When Sorensen got hurt, Baylee Carr shifted from running back to quarterback and essentially became the Hazen offense. He finished with 100 yards on 20 carries.

But without Sorensen and Aaron Berger -- who was injured in the quarterfinals -- the Bison never were able to sustain a drive.

"(Sorensen's injury) put us offensively in a big hole," Philion said. "The things we like to do, run the option, it hurt us. We would have had a tough time scoring on (Valley City) with them healthy."

The Hi-Liners will take on No. 3 Watford City in the Class AA title game Saturday.

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Hazen 0 0 0 0 -- 0

Valley City 8 8 0 19 -- 35

First Quarter

VC -- Derek Kohler 3 run (Marc DeLorme run), 10:45.

Second Quarter

VC -- Jordon Thomsen 9 run (Jade Olstad), 11:55.

Fourth Quarter

VC -- Derek Elliott 22 run (run failed), 11:53.

VC -- Olstad 36 fumble return (Kraig Klingenberg kick), 10:29.

VC -- DeLorme 5 run (kick failed), 6:20.

Team Statistics

Haz VC

First downs 9 16

Rushes-yards 37-168 49-280

Passing yards 0 22

Comp-Att-Int 0-3-2 1-1-0

Punts-avg 4-24.3 0-0.0

Fumbles-lost 6-3 1-1

Penalties-yards 11-103 3-20

Individual Statistics

Rushing: H -- Baylee Carr 20-100, Brent Sorensen 8-53, Chad Marshall 7-14, Chris Schwarz 2-1. VC -- Derek Elliott 15-170, Riley Adams 12-32, Marc DeLorme 7-29, Jade Olstad 9-29, Derek Kohler 3-11, Jordon Thomsen 2-10, Jordan Aus 1-(minus-1).

Passing: H -- Marshall 0-2-1, 0 yards; Clay Brinkman 0-1-1, 0. VC -- DeLorme 1-1-0, 22 yards.

Receiving: VC --Jonathan Strang 1-22.

Records: H 9-2; VC 11-0.

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