Knowing how to beat the Bismarck Demons in football isn’t difficult. You have to slow down their vaunted running game.
The hard part is the execution.
Bismarck pounded out 492 yards on the ground — 297 by Jaxon Ford — and rolled over Century 54-13 on Saturday in a battle for first place in the West Region.
With the victory, Bismarck sewed up the West title and the No. 1 regional seed in the AAA playoffs. To put icing on the cake, the Demons racked up 26 first downs.
Century dropped to 3-2 in regional play. Century needs a victory in next Thursday’s regional finale against Williston to stay in the running for the No. 2 seed.
Bismarck entered the game ranked second in the state, and Century was No. 5 in the statewide poll.
Bismarck coach Mark Gibson said the game became a battle of wills in the trenches.
“They had eight guys in the box and had the mentality that they weren’t going to let us run,” Gibson said. “And we decided we were going to run it.”
Did they ever.
Quarterback Hayden handed the ball off 41 times and carried it five times himself as BHS relentlessly pounded the Century defense.
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Ford said the play of interior linemen Sam Neubauer, Jaren Olson, Luke Keller, Tristan Hall and Justin Bauer turned the tide early on.
“The running game was there. Everyone filled his role and the guys up front did their job,” said Ford, who ran his season rushing total to 924 yards. “The run was one thing we felt good about tonight.”
Ford’s career-best effort included romps of 37, 65, 38 and 28 yards. He scored three touchdowns.
Dalton Sanders took over at tailback late in the game and dashed for 85 yards and two scores on five carries. Gibson scored once on a quarterback sneak and fired touchdown passes to tight end Jacob Schulz for Bismarck’s final two TDs.
Century kept pace with the Demons for a good part of the first half.
The Patriots trailed just 14-7 when the wheels fell off.
A 38-yard punt return by Sanders set the Demons up at the Century 44 with 5:37 to play in the first half.
Six plays later, Ford darted over left tackle for seven yards to put BHS in front 21-7 with 4:03 left in the first half.
Bismarck wiped away any hopes Century may have harbored with a four-touchdown third quarter.
Ford scored his third TD of the night from a yard out to put BHS up 28-7.
Century cut the deficit to two touchdowns 2 minutes later as Chris Kraft found Adam Geiger for a 26-yard score. That made it 28-13.
Then the roof caved in.
Gibson found Schulz from 40 yards out for a 34-13 advantage. Century’s Zach Sweep bobbled the ensuing kickoff and Preston Mayer recovered for BHS at the Patriot 12. On the first snap of the ball following the turnover, Gibson and Schulz hooked up again to make it 41-13.
Another Century turnover followed, linebacker Alex Seibel filching a Kraft pass and returning it 47 yards to the CHS 15. Sanders took advantage of the short field, scoring untouched form six yards out to give the Demons a 47-13 cushion with 2:22 left in the third period.
Ford said the Demons had no problem getting ready for Saturday’s clash at the Community Bowl.
“Everyone circles this game (on the calendar),” he said. “Growing up I always dreamed of playing in this game. It’s a lot of fun to come out and battle with your brothers.”
Coach Gibson said there was no doubt his team brought its A game.
“A lot of teams circle us (on the calendar). This is one we circle. This is a credit to the kids and especially a credit to the seniors. ... Our kids have kept a level head and just kept getting better.”
Bismarck’s defense limited Century to 57 yards on the ground and 272 yards total offense.
Kraft, the regional leader in total offense, threw for 215 yards, but was held to 37 yards on 16 carries.
Saturday’s victory was Bismarck’s seventh straight over the Patriots.
Bismarck closes regular season play next Friday with a game at Mandan.
Century 0 7 6 0 — 13
Bismarck 7 14 26 7 — 54
First downs 15 26
Rushing 27-57 48-492
Yards passing 215 63
Passing 13-28-1 3-7-0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 0-0
Punts-avg. 6-34 0-0
Penalties-yards 5-40 7-55
B — Hayden Gibson 1 run (Hunter Johnson kick), 1:06
C — Alex Horner 27 pass from Chris Kraft (Cyril Nagurski kick), 10:44
B — Jaxon Ford 28 run (Johnson kick), 7:03
B — Ford 7 run (Johnson kick), 4:03
B — Ford 1 run (Johnson kick), 10:44
C — Adam Geiger 26 pass from Kraft (kick failed), 8:47
B — Jacob Schulz 40 pass from Gibson (kick failed), 7:38
B — Schulz 12 pass from Gibson (Johnson kick), 7:21
B — Dalton Sanders 6 run (kick blocked), 2:22
B — Sanders 3 run (Johnson kick), 7:51
Rushing: C – Chris Kraft 16-37, Zach Sweep 5-20, Logan Gross 2-6, Trey Pajimula 1-4, Ian McDonald 1-2, Andrew Steinwand 1-minus 3, Tanner Ghering 1-minus 9. B Jaxon Ford 25-297, Dalton Sanders 5-85, Nick Hagen 5-46, Jon Tharaldsen 1-22, Noah DuBord 4-21, Hayden Gibson 5-13, Jake Sanders 1-10, Bradyn Just 2-minus 2.
Passing: C – Kraft 13-28-1, 215 yards. B – Gibson 3-7-0, 63.
Receiving: C – Adam Geiger 6-87, Steinwand 1-51, Alex Horner 1-27, Zach Sweep[ 2-26, Cyril Nagurski 1-20, Travis Vatnsdal 1-6, Gross 1-minus 2.
Interceptions: B — Alex Seibel.
Records: Century 3-2 West Region, 3-4 overall; Bismarck 5-0, 7-0
Reach reporter Steve Thomas at 701-250-8244 or email@example.com.