Football is a pretty simple game.
By Pat Merriman and Tracey Dolezal
For the DC Herald
By rule, there are only two plays–loose ball or running– and, it was the final loose ball by Hazen (a fumble by the Bison QB resulting in a sack for Killdeer) that ultimately settled things between number 1 Hazen and number 4 Killdeer last Saturday afternoon. That and three goal line stands by the amazing Cowboy’s defense, including one in overtime, which carried the day. What some had anticipated to be a shoot-out between these two rivals was anything but, as excellent defense by both teams stymied numerous drives and scoring attempts and sealed two-time, defending state champion Hazen’s fate. Particularly impressive given concerns about the Cowboy’s defensive line which was the stand-out in this game.
Scoring first (at 6:47 in the 1st quarter) on their first drive with a 5-yard pass from Cowboy QB Trenton Rohr to Derek Tabor (the ensuing 2-point try failed), our hometown team then dug in for three more virtually scoreless quarters of football including a missed Cowboy, 22-yard field goal on their second drive of the 4th quarter. No long runs on third down (a problem in their regular season match-up at Cowboy Stadium on October 18th, a 27-16 loss), only a 29-yard scoring sprint by Bison QB Connor Doll (5:55 in the 2nd quarter) marred the Cowboy defense which held the Bison to only 6 points which had not occurred at all this season. And stopping the high-powered Bison offense with only 251 total yards in offense was nothing short of Herculean.
Tied 6-6 in regulation play, Killdeer went on offense first in overtime and punched it in on the third play from the 6 yard line but failed to convert on the 2-point try…or did they? Hazen was penalized half the distance to the goal line for defensive pass interference in the end zone and, Killdeer RB Lewis Dobitz then ran in the 2 point try from the 1.5 yard line. With Killdeer now up by 8 points, Hazen’s subsequent possession marched the wrong way, after a bizarre pass play on third down deflected into the hands of Hazen WR Wyatt Carr at the 3 yard line. With 4th and goal from the 3 yard line, a bad exchange between Hazen’s QB and center resulted in a mad scramble for the ball ending with MLB John Knopick’s sack of Carr, on the last down of the game, at the 15 yard line and Hazen’s 2 year reign as state champion and winning streak of 28 games came to an end. Just like that.
The last time the Cowboys beat Hazen was in 1995, the same year that Killdeer became first time state champions defeating Harvey 30-14, when most of the current Killdeer players were either in diapers or just a gleam in their parents’ eyes. Saturday, they stood shoulder-to-shoulder and beat the juggernaut that had been the Hazen Bison. Offensive stat leaders were as follows: Bison QB Connor Doll (21 carries totaling 141 yards and one TD; 3/6 pass for 42 yards); Cowboy RB Lewis Dobitz (23 carries totaling 105 yards); Cowboy QB Hayes LeMieux (4/5 passing totaling 52 yards); Bison QB Connor Doll (3/6 passing totaling 40 yards); Cowboy RB Lewis Dobitz (3 receptions totaling 54 yards); and Bison QB Wyatt Carr (2 receptions totaling 28 yards).
Final score last Saturday=Cowboys 14, Bison 6. Killdeer now plays the North Dakota Class 1A state championship game against the 8th ranked Park River-Fordville-Lankin Aggies (9-1) at 9 A.M. CST today at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. The Aggies (9-1) boast an average of 40 points per game this season with impressive wins over Mayville-Portland on October 18 (68-14) and Midway-Minto on September 26 (50-8). Killdeer also has scored an average of 40 points per game and, even after the curious forfeit by the Dickinson Midgets on October 11th, the Cowboys beat Garrison/Max on October 3 (56-8) and New Salem/Glen Ullin on September 12 (51-8). Killdeer should be returning one of their most potent weapons in the form of 6-foot-4 senior wide receiver Tuff Kling who sat out the Hazen game with a leg injury treated under medical supervision.