GRAND FORKS — It took some time for Layne Johs and the powerful Bismarck running game to get rolling in Friday night’s Class AAA state championship game.
How much time?
A little more than a quarter.
The top-ranked Demons rushed for a mere 32 yards in the opening frame, but rolled up 270 the rest of the way in a 21-0 victory over rival Century at the Alerus Center.
Johs, the Class AAA senior athlete of the year, gained 199 yards and scored three touchdowns for Bismarck, which recorded its 17th consecutive victory and claimed its second state title in as many years.
“We started out a little slow, but we weren’t too worried,” said Johs, who finished the season with more than 1,900 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns. “We have a lot of faith in the guys up front and we knew they would come through for us. After the first quarter, it was business as usual.”
It was business as usual as well for the Bismarck defense, which allowed the Patriots 78 total yards. The Demons held an opponent to eight points or less for the 12th time in 12 games.
“Top to bottom this is probably the best defense I’ve coached,” said Bismarck coach Mark Gibson, whose team defeated Century 28-7 in the regular-season meeting. “We have a lot of seniors on that side of the ball, a lot of speed on that side of the ball, and we have a tremendous defensive coordinator (Dale Colby). We preach putting as many hats on the ball as we can, and these kids fly to the ball and get it done.”
Century managed 23 total yards in the first half.
“We couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Century coach Ron Wingenbach said. “We were hoping to put together sustained drives to keep their offense off the field, but we couldn’t put first downs together. Give them credit. That’s a great defensive team.”
Johs broke a scoreless tie with a 29-yard touchdown run at the 9:35 mark of the second quarter. The score capped a 6-play, 85-yard drive that also included a run of 21 yards by Johs.
The Demons were forced to punt after nine plays on their next possession, but after a Century three-and-out, Johs broke loose for a 49-yard score with 2:45 to play in the first half.
“(Guard) Jaden Friedt came around and cleared the outside for me,” Johs said. “He gave me a big opening and I took it from there.”
The half ended 14-0, but the Demons delivered a devastating blow to the Patriots on the first possession of the third quarter. Starting from its own 17-yard line, Bismarck ground out a 16-play scoring drive that consumed 8:07. Johs, who carried eight times in the march, finished it off with a 2-yard run on fourth-and-goal.
“At halftime, (quarterback) Ben Jolliffe talked about going out, putting a long drive together and punching it in,” Johs said. “That was a statement drive.”
“They knew we were going to run the ball, and we took it down the field,” he said. “It’s a credit to the backs and the offensive line.”
Century’s offense finally got it going midway through the fourth quarter. Given a short field, the Patriots moved 35 yards and had a first down on the Bismarck 5. They were denied the end zone after four plays netted minus-11 yards.
“We wanted the shutout. We pride ourselves in shutouts,” senior linebacker Riley Plant said. “They got close, but we stepped up and made the plays.”
Later, Century had the ball inside the Bismarck 30, but that drive eventually stalled on the 31.
“We did have some opportunities, but we
couldn’t take advantage,” Wingenbach said. “We had a good season, though. We have a lot to be proud of.”
The Demons improved to 12-0, while Century finished the season at 9-3.
Troy Mattern of Fargo South was named Class AAA coach of the year.
Century 0 0 0 0 — 0
Bismarck 0 14 7 0 — 21
B — Layne Johs 29 run (Josh Seibel kick), 9:35
B — Johs 49 run (Seibel kick), 2:45
B — Johs 2 run (Seibel kick), 3:53
First downs 5 14
Rushes-yards 27-27 53-302
Passing yards 51 52
Comp-Att-Int 5-20-2 5-9-0
Turnovers 3 0
Penalties-yards 5-40 7-75
Rushing: C — Ryan Gesellchen 15-37, Dylan Leutz 2-12, Brandon Miller 1-4, Hunter Babeck 1-0, Jared Fischer 8-(-)25. B — Layne Johs 29-199, Riley Plant 9-54, Ben Jolliffe 8-20, Brett Adam 2-15, Ricardo Galindo 3-14, Kole Bauer 2-0.
Passing: C — Fischer 5-20-2, 51 yards. B — Jolliffe 5-9-0, 52 yards.
Receiving: C — Matt Van Voorhis 3-23, Brennan Doan 1-20, Hunter Walsh 1-8. B — Plant 2-34, Josh Seibel 1-13, Nick Kottre 1-5, Johs 1-0.
Interceptions: B, Nick Goulet, Seibel.
Records: Bismarck 12-0, Century 9-3.