Miners FB headed to state
By Jarann Johnson
The road to the 2A state championship game wasn’t a clean, danger-free path for the Beulah Miners. The path to the 2A state championship meant two tough games on the road against two teams ranked in the state poll.
During the 2A quarterfinals, Beulah went to Wahpeton and beat the No. 5-ranked team in the state. Last week the Miners faced No. 1-ranked St. Mary’s on the road and came away with a 13-7 win.
The game started off with a good sign for Miners’ fans. On the first play from scrimmage, St. Mary’s elected to try to set up an option-play, but the Beulah defense was ready for it.
Beulah broke up the option play and, because the lateral was behind the line of scrimmage, it was considered a fumble. Senior cornerback Brandon Elton scooped up the ball and ran 50 yards in the other direction for a touchdown.
Sophomore kicker Mikey Morris connected on the kick, making the score 7-0 early in the first period. Elton wasn’t done making big plays and grabbed an interception on St. Mary’s second offensive drive of the game.
The Miners didn’t get to hang on to their positive momentum for long. The Beulah offense was stopped on fourth-and-six when starting quarterback Casey Walcker misfired a pass to fellow senior Corey Alt.
The St. Mary’s offense moved the ball well on their third drive, reaching the red zone. But, once St. Mary’s got inside the 20-yard line, the Miners’ defense powered up and forced a turnover on downs.
The offensive struggles continued for both teams. It looked like a fumble by Alt was going to help St. Mary’s finally get their offense going with a golden chance.
The Beulah defense was ready to counter St. Mary’s great field position at the 31-yard line. Junior Reece Hoherz came up with an end zone interception, putting his team back in control of the ball with the lead.
The game transitioned with neither offense doing much into the second quarter. Beulah senior punter Walcker lined up to punt the ball on fourth down but his punt was blocked, giving St. Mary’s another chance to draw even.
St. Mary’s couldn’t cash in on the great field position at the 41-yard line and failed to convert another fourth down. But Beulah couldn’t do anything with the ball either, and turned it over on downs.
At halftime the score was 7-0 in favor of Beulah. The Miners wanted a strong drive to start the second half, and looked well on their way after Morris returned the second half kickoff to the 24-yard line. The Miners pushed the ball down to the 1-yard line, but couldn’t get the ball in.
The Miners committed two costly 5-yard penalties, moving them back to the 12-yard line. Morris attempted a field goal from the 12-yard line, which is about 27 yards, but missed the kick.
The defenses continued to answer each other. St. Mary’s punted, then Beulah drove the ball to the 21-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Beulah faced a fourth-and-1, but couldn’t convert the important down. Walcker fumbled on the play and St. Mary’s took over at the 34-yard line.
St. Mary’s didn’t waste this possession, going 64 yards on 10 plays to score. St. Mary’s used nine running plays on the drive and relied heavily on sophomore QB Cole Gendreau’s running ability to score.
The point after was good, tying the game 7-7 in the fourth quarter, with 6 minutes left. Beulah needed to answer to gain the lead.
The Beulah offense was helped out by another great Morris return. Morris returned the ball to the 47-yard line. After the return, Miners Head Coach Jim Dooley turned to what he knows best, running the ball.
Beulah ran the ball five straight times and faced a third-and-seven from the 22-yard line. Dooley elected to call a run play to Morris, and the sophomore running back busted through a small crease for a 22-yard score with 4:07 left.
The Miners point after attempt was no good, though, leaving the score at 13-7. The gap meant Beulah needed to keep St. Mary’s out of the end zone to win the game.