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Tom Mix, Published November 02 2012

Bismarck Century defeats South in 3A football semifinals

FARGO – Friday marked the fifth time in the last six seasons Fargo South and Bismarck Century have played with a trip to the state title game on the line.

The 2012 chapter of the South-Century rivalry went the way of the Patriots.

Century defeated South 16-13 in the North Dakota Class 3A state football playoffs at South High School.

Leading the way for the Patriots was senior running back Ryan Gesellchen, who rushed for 147 yards on 32 carries.

“It was a fun game to play in,” Gesellchen said. “We came out as a group and produced. It was awesome.”

Gesellchen’s biggest carry came with 3 minutes, 12 seconds left in the third quarter when the 6-foot-1, 185-pound back punched in an 18-yard touchdown run.

That touchdown gave Century a two-score advantage that held up.

The No. 2-ranked Patriots (9-2) advance to play No. 1-ranked Bismarck in the championship game at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. It is the second consecutive year the Patriots and Demons have met in the title game. Bismarck won 21-3 last season.

“Our motto this year was unfinished business,” Gesellchen said. “We are going to go back and get some business done.”

The Patriots went right at the Bruins from the start.

Senior Brennan Doan returned the opening kickoff 56 yards to the Bruins’ 36-yard line. Six plays later, senior quarterback Jared Fischer scored on a 3-yard keeper on fourth down.

“Special teams was huge for us,” Century head coach Ron Wingenbach said. “I thought field position was gained by our special teams unit. The opening kickoff really set the tone for the game. That was huge to go up 7-0, and that was set up largely by our kickoff return.”

South answered with an 18-play drive in which it converted on two separate fourth-down situations, including James Johannesson’s 26-yard touchdown which came on a fourth-and-9. The Bruins missed the extra-point kick attempt on a fumbled hold.

In total, the Bruins had three special teams miscues on Friday. The second was a misdirected snap on a punt that resulted in a safety.

Johannesson scored his second touchdown on a 16-yard run with 10:58 left in regulation. South held the Patriots to a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, but couldn’t cash in after its next drive stalled on the Century 35 yard line where the Bruins’ third special teams misstep occurred.

Another high snap denied senior place kicker Jacob Weiler from even attempting a 53-yard field goal that would have tied the game.

“Give Century credit,” South head coach Troy Mattern said. “They came out exactly how I’m sure they wanted to and they took it to us. We were on our heels for two and half quarters. We seized a little momentum late, but we just couldn’t make the big play when we needed to.”

South had two more possessions in the final six minutes of regulation, but both ended after failed fourth-down conversions.

It was a totally different atmosphere than the first time the two teams met on Aug. 24, which resulted in a South win. Snow fell prior to kickoff and blanketed the field.

“Everyone figured this game would be won or lost between the tackles,” Wingenbach said. “I thought our defensive staff did a great job of prepping our kids. South is a very explosive team and we knew we would have our hands full. To hold them to 13 points was outstanding.

“Offensively we found just enough to win.”

Johannesson finished with 112 yards on 26 carries for South (8-3).

BC 7 2 7 0–16

FS 6 0 0 7–13

BC–Fischer 3 run (Neameyer kick)

S–Johannesson 26 run (kick failed)

BC–Safety

BC–Gesellchen 18 run (Neameyer kick)

S– Johannesson 16 run (Jo. Weiler kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: BC, Gesellchen 32-147, Miller 2-3, Babeck 6-2, Fischer 6-(minus 1), Rudolph 1-(minus 5), Leutz 2-3. S, Johannesson 26-112, Reich 10-17, Raymond 3-32, Kellen 2-2, Ja. Weiler 1-(minus 5).

PASSING: BC, Fischer 3-9-0–17. S, Kellen, 7-15-0–79.

RECEIVING: BC, Walsh 3-17. S, Staigle 2-14, Reich 1-6, Verghis 2-33, Johannesson 1-19, Brooks 1-7.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562