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Steve Thomas / Bismarck Tribune , Published November 02 2012

Bismarck rallies past West Fargo in Class 3A football semifinals

BISMARCK – The test Bismarck Demons head football coach Mark Gibson knew was coming arrived Friday night in the form of West Fargo.

And Bismarck rose to the occasion.

After trailing for the first time this season, the Demons scored the final 15 points of the game to down the Packers 22-8.

With the victory at the Community Bowl, the defending champion Demons advance to the state North Dakota Class 3A championship game. Bismarck has played in the last five finals, winning three.

For the second straight year, Bismarck meets Century for the title. Game time is 6:30 p.m. next Friday at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.

“We just kept believing and stuck with what we do every week,” said Bismarck safety Lee Braunagel, who was in on nine tackles. “When we believe and play Demon football good things happen.”

For more than 27 minutes, the two teams struggled to a scoreless standoff.

West Fargo netted just 64 offensive yards in the first half. Bismarck had 76.

The Demons finally broke the ice early in the third period. Bismarck took the second-half kickoff and marched 77 yards in nine plays, tailback Layne Johs bowling over right tackle from 3 yards out for the score.

Josh Seibel’s kick put the Demons up 7-0.

West Fargo marched 67 yards to the Bismarck 9-yard line in its next possession before being denied.

The Packers finally broke through in the first minute of the fourth quarter. Tailback Preston Lehmann thundered in from five yards out to close an eight-play, 59-yard drive with 11:06 to play. Lehmann’s 2-point run put the Packers up 8-7.

“We didn’t make the playoffs last year, and to be ahead of Bismarck with seven minutes to go ... that was our season,” Packers head coach Jay Gibson said.

Bismarck fought back two possessions later, scoring on a 6-yard drive. Runs of 15 and 9 yards by fullback Riley Plant set up a 4-yard touchdown sneak by quarterback Ben Jolliffe.

Jolliffe threw a conversion pass to tight end Justin Thorson and Bismarck reclaimed the lead at 15-8 with 6:50 on the clock.

West Fargo return man James Heinen-Lugert didn’t corral Tyler Clairmont’s skittering kickoff until he was on his own 2-yard line and was immediately snowed under.

Three plays later the Packers were forced to punt, giving Bismarck a short field.

The Demons drove 48 yards in six plays, Johs breaking loose from 19 yards out to give the hosts a two-touchdown lead. Seibel’s kick made it 22-8 with two minutes left.

With the 210-pound Lehmann rushing 22 times for 110 yards, the Packers had a 58-46 advantage in offensive plays. West Fargo ran 28 plays to Bismarck’s 18 in the scoreless first half.

“He’s a great running back,” Braunagel said. “You have to tackle him low and let the other (defensive) guys get there. You can’t bring him down alone.”

West Fargo 0 0 0 8– 8

Bismarck 0 0 7 15–22

B–Johs 3 run (Seibel kick)

WF–Lehmann 5 run (Lehmann run)

B–Jolliffe 4 run (Thorson pass from Jolliffe)

B–Johs 19 run (Seibel kick)


RUSHING: WF, Lehmann 22-110, Olsen 5-12, Schuylz 2-4, Hoy 1-(minus)2, Cameron 11-(minus) 57. B, Johs 20-141, Plant 9-74, Jolliffe 11-34.

PASSING: WF, Cameron 6-17-0, 96. B, Jolliffe 1-6-0, 18.

RECEIVING: WF, Jeinen-Lugert 3-67, Gunderson 2-28, Heisler 1-1. B, Kottre 1-18.