With Ben Bolinske throwing, Braden Lund catching and Austin Nagel running, Minot had the most productive yard-gobbling offense in the West Region. Bismarck put the region’s stingiest scoring defense on the field.
The unstoppable force met the immovable object.
When the smoke cleared, second-ranked Bismarck had corralled previously undefeated and top-ranked Minot 27-7 Friday night at the Community Bowl.
The outcome leaves the two teams with identical records, 4-1 in the West Region and 6-1 overall. Bismarck thus has the upper hand in the struggle for postseason seeding position.
Bismarck’s defense was magnificent, limiting the Magicians, who came into the game averaging 31 points and 391 yards, to 280 yards and one score. The winning Demons dominated the battle for field position, thanks in part to a 5-0 advantage on the plus-minus turnover scale and some nifty punting by Jordan Mann.
Mann, a senior, ran for a score and threw for a touchdown while leading the BHS offense to a 300-yard night. However, he tipped his hat to the Demon defenders.
“I can’t compliment our defense enough,” Mann said.
Truly, the BHS defensive unit stole the show, stopping Minot 10 times in 11 possessions. The Magicians lost the ball on downs three times, fumbled the ball away three times, punted twice and were intercepted twice.
“We came in hungry and worked our butts off and things worked out for us,” said Lucas Butts, Bismarck’s 210-pound nose guard who recovered a fumble and picked off a Bolinske pass.
Butts said a big part of Bismarck’s defensive success was simple hard work.
“We give 100 percent on every play. Our goal is to never take a play off,” he observed.
Butts said the breaks play a role in racking up five takeaways.
“Things just went our way tonight,” he conceded.
The game had two different personalities. Most of the scoring was packed into the first half with Bismarck taking a 17-7 lead into the break. The second half was a defense-dominated battle in the trenches.
Bismarck drew first blood, Mann hooking up with wideout Seth Siverson for a 60-yard touchdown play with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter.
“(Minot) loaded eight in the box … and if you find a seam it could go the distance. And it did,” Mann said.
Siverson caught the ball at the 50-yard line and was off to the races.
Minot responded in its next series, marching 80 yards in nine plays. Wide receiver Logan Bischof grabbed a swing pass from Bolinske, ran through a tackle and darted 28 yards to score with 9:00 on the clock in the second period.
Bismarck was forced to punt in its next possession, and Mann came through in a big way. The Demons downed his nifty 40-yard punt at the Minot 2-yard line.
A three-and-out by Minot resulted in a punt that gave the Demons the ball at the Minot 42. On second down, BHS tailback Jaxon Ford zipped through a hole in the left side and scored untouched from 36 yards out. Hunter Johnson kicked his second of three extra points and BHS was up 14-7 with 3:46 left in the half.
An interception by cornerback Cullen Irey enabled Johnson to tack on a 23-yard field goal just before intermission. The Magicians were threatening at the BHS 29 when Irey swiped a Bolinske pass with 40 seconds to play in the second quarter.
Johnson connected on a 38-yarder early in the third quarter to put Bismarck on top 20-7. Mann put the icing on the cake, closing a short drive with a two-yard run with 2:44 remaining.
Mann said the Demons hadn’t forgotten Minot’s semifinal victory at the Bowl in last year’s AAA playoffs.
“We never forgot the taste we had after that loss last year,” he noted. “I wouldn’t say this was payback. We want to win. We want to go far.”
Mann said the Demons can’t bask in the victory for long with archrival Century on the schedule next Friday.
“We’ll celebrate about 30 minutes and then think about the cross-town rivals next week,” he said.
Minot coach Barry Holmen said the five Magician turnovers were the result of Bismarck’s inspired defensive play.
“I don’t think it was as much us being sloppy as it was a credit to their defense. They were rallying to the ball,” he said.
Butts, Jalen Sprecher and Brayden Gieser recovered Minot fumbles.
Lost in all the turnovers, according to Holmen, was the fact Minot’s defense played much of the night with its back to the wall.
“In the end, I don’t know if you could ask much more of the defense considering the short fields they had to defend,” Holmen said.
Holmen said the setback is not a disaster by any means.
“We’ve been preaching that all week. We simply got beat by a good football team,” he said. “Three (West Region) teams have one loss, so we’re going to to to Williston (next week) and do our darndest to win a football game.”
B – Seth Siverson 60 pass from Jordan Mann (Hunter Johnson kick), 1:03.
M – Logan Bischof 28 pass from Ben Bolinske (Mason Hoffer kick), 9:00.
B – Jaxon Ford 36 run (Johnson kick), 3:46.
B – Johnson 23 field goal, :03.
B – Johnson 38 field goal, 8:57
B – Mann 2 run (Johnson kick), 2:44
Rushing: M – Austin Nagel 21-97, Ben Bolinske 13-43, Logan Bischof 2-12, Carson Mosser 2-5, Matt Marler 5-5. B – Jaxon Ford 26-53, Jordan Mann 13-29, Jake Sanders 1-1, Seth Siverson 1-3, Cullen Irey 1-0.
Passing: M – Bolinske 8-23-2, 118 yards. B – Mann 6-12-1, 114; Ford 0-1-0.
Receiving: M – Brayden Lund 4-61, Bischof 2-39, Brett Lunde 2-18. B – Seth Siverson 2-63, Jack Sullivan 2-28, Ethan Hauff 1-14, Connor Hellebust 1-9.
Interceptions: M – Lunde. B – Bradyn Just, Cullen Irey.
Records: Minot 4-1 West Region, 6-1 overall; Bismarck 4-1, 6-1.