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Eric Peterson, Published November 07 2010

ND Class 3A state football semifinals: Demons return to title game

When it mattered most, the Bismarck Demons offense stayed on the football field.

The Demons ran 10 consecutive running plays that milked nearly all of the final five minutes of the fourth quarter Saturday at West Fargo. The late ball control helped the No. 4-ranked Demons secure a 24-20 victory against No. 1-ranked West Fargo in the North Dakota Class 3A state semifinals.

“We went to the offensive line and challenged them,” said Bismarck head coach Mark Gibson. “We said, ‘You guys are (five) minutes away from the state title game. What do you have left in the gas tank?’ ”

The answer was enough to run out the clock. West Fargo (8-2) forced the Demons to punt with six seconds remaining, but was unable to field the punt for a return as time expired.

“If you’re within a few plays of making it to the state championship, you’re a good team,” West Fargo head coach Jay Gibson said. “It just hurts. … Seniors, the reality that they were going to be done playing football, hit about 10 minutes ago. And it’s devastating.”

The two-time defending state champion Demons (9-2) advanced to their fourth consecutive state title game. For the fourth straight time, they will be facing Fargo South.

“I told the kids afterwards, of all the teams I’ve coached, I couldn’t be more proud of this football team,” Mark Gibson said. “We held on at the right times. We needed breaks and we got breaks.”

Bismarck senior running back Channing Mann rushed for a game-high 154 yards and three touchdowns on 34 attempts to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards this season.

“It just came down to executing at the end of the game, getting all those big yards when you need them right at the end,” Mann said. “They were coming through and hitting hard. They knocked me down a couple times, but I kept getting back up trying to fight for more yards.”

Mann scored what proved to be the winning touchdown with 1 minute, 17 seconds remaining in the third quarter. His 2-yard scoring plunge capped a seven-play, 61-yard drive that gave the Demons a 24-20 lead. Mann also completed a 33-yard halfback pass to Brett Adam earlier in the drive to help set up the game-winning score.

“We were cheating to try to stop Channing all game because he is the ultra back in the state,” Jay Gibson said. “He is really something.”

West Fargo grabbed a

20-18 lead with 4:33 remaining in the third quarter after Dustin Null plowed into the end zone from

2 yards out. Packers wide receiver Zach Neer set up that score with a 31-yard catch that came on a first-and-26 play and moved the ball to the Bismarck 16-yard line. Three plays later, Null scored. Neer ended with a game high 122 receiving yards on eight catches.

“They’re a good team. We went out there and fought and they came out tough today,” Neer said. “We had 20 seniors starting. We’re all like a big family so we will take it all together. There wasn’t one guy that was better than anyone on our team. We wanted to make it a year for everyone.”

Bismarck 6 12 6 0–24

WF 0 14 6 0–20

BHS–Mann 35 run (kick failed)

WF–Pistorius 4 pass from Ruff (Ballweber)

BHS–Gibson 1 run (run failed)

BHS–Mann 21 run (run failed)

WF–Null 1 run (Ballweber kick)

WF–Null 2 run (kick failed)

BHS–Mann 2 run (pass failed)


RUSHING: BHS, Mann 34-154, Gibson 8-40, Vogel 2-9, Jangula 1-8. WF, Null 10-44, Spacek 10-42, Ruff 7-15, Bucholz 1-(minus-13), Team 2-(minus-31).

PASSING: BHS, Gibson 7-12-0 134 yards, Mann 1-1-0 33. WF, Ruff 16-34-1 237.

RECEIVING: BHS, Adam 2-88, Vogel 2-22, Deichert 2-21, Kautz 1-3. WF, Neer 8-122, Schwartz 3-66, Pistorius 5-49.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blogs can be found

at www.areavoices.com