BEULAH -- A quick-strike offense and a stingy defense near the goal line propelled the Beulah Miners into the Class A football playoff quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Miners scored on all four of their first-half possessions, while denying Minot Ryan on three red zone opportunities in their 38-7 first-round victory on a chilly and windy day in Beulah.
Beulah ran only 19 plays from scrimmage in the first half, compared to 42 for Ryan, but rolled up 353 total yards, including scoring plays that covered 58, 46 and 72 yards. Meanwhile, the Lions got inside the Beulah 5-yard line on three straight possessions, but came away empty-handed each time.
"We made some big plays on offense, but I think the defense made the biggest plays of the day," said Beulah's Mikey Morris, a senior quarterback-running back-linebacker. "(The Lions) got in close three times, but the defense stepped up every time and kept them out of the end zone. That fired us up and I think it took a lot out of them. And coming back and scoring as quick as we did made it even tougher."
Morris rushed for 111 yards and passed for another 113 in the first half as the Miners built a 30-0 lead. He finished with 140 yards on 17 carries. Derek Ferebee, Tyler Erickson and Aaron Vallejo added 87, 72 and 44 yards rushing, respectively, and Mason Dolbec caught three passes for 127.
In all, Beulah compiled 381 yards rushing and 127 passing on 43 plays.
"We have a lot of big-play guys on our team," Morris said. "Mostly, we're built to play grind-it-out football, but give us some room to run and we can take it a long way."
Ferebee took it a long way after teammate Johnnie Brown intercepted a Ben Bohl pass on the Ryan 37 on the third play of the game. An encroahment penalty moved the ball to the 42, and on first down Ferebee broke free for a 58-yard touchdown run. Morris ran for the 2-point conversion, giving the Miners an 8-0 lead with 10:45 remaining in the first quarter.
After the ensuing kickoff, the Lions marched 72 yards in 16 plays to the Beulah 4 before J.J. Johannsen's 22-yard field goal attempt sailed wide to the left.
The Miners then put together a quick 6-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, scoring on a 6-yard run by Morris with 3:26 left in the first quarter. Morris also had runs of 21 and 35 yards on the march.
The Lions threatened again on their next possession, this time driving from their own 42 to the Beulah 1. However, running back Jordan Merck was stopped in his tracks on fourth-and-goal, and the Miners took over on the 1.
Seven plays later, Erickson broke no less than three tackles on the way to a 46-yard score. Ferebee's 2-pointer made it 22-0.
Another promising Ryan drive followed, but once again, the Beulah defense stood firm, dropping Merck for a 1-yard loss on a fourth-and-inches play from inside the Miners' 1.
"We practice goal line and red zone defense all the time. The kids like the challenge and they were challenged today," said Beulah coach Jim Dooley, whose team improved to 8-1. "They showed a lot of heart with their backs against the wall, but at the same time, I didn't like that we put ourselves in that position. We knew Ryan was capable of moving the ball, but we didn't adjust very well to a lot of the things they were doing in the first half. We did a much better job in the second half, though."
After the fourth-down stop, the Beulah offense struck again in the waning seconds of the first half. Morris found Dolbec for a 72-yard score on the fifth play of the possession, capping a 98-yard drive. Morris also ran for the 2-pointer.
Later, Ferebee finished off a time-consuming 15-play, 84-yard scoring drive with a 13-yard run with 2:40 remaining in the third quarter. Morris' third 2-pointer of the game closed Beulah's scoring.
Ryan finally got on the scoreboard with 3:50 left in the game on a 32-yard pass from Bohl to T.J. Schieg. Bohl completed 17 of 27 passes for 204 yards.
The Miners will travel to Velva on Saturday to take on the unbeaten Aggies (9-0) in a quarterfinal game. Velva defeated Hazen 40-7 in the opening round.