Friday night’s West Region football game between Bismarck High and Legacy at the MDU Resources Community Bowl was a study in contrast.
Legacy quarterback Clay Feland threw for 223 yards and three touchdowns and scored one of his own. But he and the Sabers were no match for BHS running back Isaiah Huus and an unstoppable ground game.
Huus scored five touchdowns and the third-ranked Demons churned out 380 yards on the ground in a 48-27 win over the Sabers. The Demons scored on every possession except their first, which ended on a punt, and the last, which ended on a drive that ate up the last 5:25 of the game.
“I thought our kids up front played extremely well,” BHS coach Mark Gibson said. “Last year they physically dominated us on both sides of the football and we made that a point of emphasis this week.”
With the win, the Demons remained atop the West Region standings with Jamestown. Both teams are 4-0.
Feland did what he could to keep the Sabers in it. He was 18-for-28 with an interception. He threw TD passes of 17 yards to Max Barrett, 7 yards to Brady Burman and 31 yards to Nick Kupfer, who caught six passes for 121 yards.
BHS quarterback Caden Fischer threw for 127 yards.
Huus ran 21 times for 190 yards and scored on runs of 24, 5, 2, 5 and 3 yards. He also caught a pass for 63 yards.
Brandt Kringlie added 87 yards on five carries for BHS.
Gibson felt like a solid running game could outlast an aerial attack.
“They’ve got a good football team and it’s just two different philosophies on how to play offense,” Gibson said. “We didn’t make mistakes and they made one. Offensively you want to control the game.”
The Demons led 21-20 at the half, thanks to a missed PAT after Legacy’s opening touchdown.
Bismarck pounded the ball on the ground. Huus ran for 131 of the Demons’ 189 rushing yards in the first half.
The Sabers carved up the defense through the air. Feland completed 13 of 17 passes for 160 yards in the first two quarters. The Sabers had seven passing first downs, and none rushing on just five rushing yards.
Legacy took its first possession, set up by a 41-yard punt return by Matt Jensen, 25 yards for the opening score. Barrett slipped out of the backfield and caught a 17-yard pass from Feland for the score. The PAT was wide right.
It didn’t take Bismarck long to answer. Six plays after receiving the kickoff, tight end Jack Steckler took a handoff around right end 30 yards for a score. Ethan Stotz broke the tie with the PAT with 6:26 left in the half.
After a rare defensive stop, BHS got the ball back on its own 13-yard line. Huus capped the six-play drive with a 24-yard TD run for a 14-6 lead with 1:01 left in the quarter. The last four plays of the drive covered 28, 12, 19 and 24 yards.
Not to be outdone, Feland marched the Sabers 69 yards on 12 plays to get back on the scoreboard. He was 5-for-6 on the drive with four of those completions coming on third down. Three were third-and-longs.
The Demons rode Huus to a 21-13 lead. His 5-yard run with 3:46 left in the half was the finishing touch on a 74-yard drive. But it left Feland too much time.
He worked the clock and the defense, moving the Sabers to the Demons’ goal line in the closing seconds. They ran three plays from the 1 in the last 11 seconds and Feland got in on fourth down as time ran out. TJ Seidel’s PAT made it a one-point game with two quarters left.
Huus and Feland exchanged scores in the third quarter. Huus hauled in a 63-yard pass down to the Legacy 2-yard line and scored his fourth touchdown of the game on the next play.
Feland’s answer was a 31-yard TD pass to Kupfer and a Seidel PAT with 5:25 left, making it 28-27.
The Demons’ next score was set up by a rare Feland mistake. Gunner Swanson stepped in front of a pass intended for Kupfer and returned it 50 yards to the Legacy 3. Huus then carried it in for his fifth score and a 41-27 lead.
Kringlie, who added 86 yards on five carries for BHS, scored the game’s last TD on a 27-yard run with 7:04 left.
“There’s still some things we didn’t show,” Gibson said. “Whenever we can line up and get five or six a crack, that’s something we’re going to do. And flip it around, that’s going to keep their offense off the field.”
The Demons averaged just under 10 yards per carry.
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