The tail end of the Arlington-Lake Preston Badgers’ regular season has been tough—with the Badgers taking their third-straight loss Oct.16, 44-8, to fifth-ranked Class 9A De Smet.
That dropped the Badgers to 4-4 on the season, but that was still good for third in Region 2 of Class 9AA—which proved to be the strongest of the four regions in the class, with five of the six teams qualifying for the playoffs.
As the third seed in the region, Arlington-Lake Preston will travel to second-seeded Baltic Thursday night for a rematch with the Baltic Bulldogs. Baltic won their Oct. 2 game 22-16, but five turnovers by the Badgers were a major factor in the outcome.
De Smet, now 6-2, will play the top-seeded Howard Tigers.
The De Smet Bulldogs scored on a punt return and recovered a fumble in the end zone, building a 30-0 halftime lead on their way to a 44-8 victory over the Arlington-Lake Preston Badgers Friday night in De Smet.
The game opened with each team turning the ball over on downs, but the Bulldogs drew first blood on their second possession, driving 68 yards in six plays to score on a two-yard plunge by Cody Cavanaugh. De Smet added the two-point run, and with 4:51 left in the first, went up 8-0.
The Badgers went three-and-out on their next possession, punting to their own 44. The Bulldogs quickly drove to the five on three runs, but a second-and-two was stuffed for a loss by Matthew Steffensen, and after a motion penalty set the ball back five yards, the drive stalled at the seven.
The Badgers got the ball back as the first quarter ended, but on the first play of the second quarter, A-LP coughed it up at their own nine.
De Smet covered the ball at the six, but three running plays netted just four yards. On fourth-and-goal at the two, the quarterback keeper went nowhere, and the Badgers took over on downs.
But the first-down snap went awry, and this time the Bulldogs recovered the loose ball in the end zone, for a touchdown. That made it 14-0, and the two-point pass 16-0, with 10:02 left in the half.
The Badgers needed a big play, but instead went backwards, punting on a fourth-and-21 from their own 12. Kalen Garry caught a short kick at the 31, and returned it for the touchdown, putting the Bulldogs up 22-0 with 8:21 left. The two-point run made it 24-0.
The Badgers finally got the big play they needed on the next possession, with quarterback Jasper Denison rumbling 33 yards on first down to the De Smet 29. But the drive stalled there, with A-LP turning it over on downs at the 26.
The Bulldogs answered with back-to-back big plays, gaining 47 yards on a first-down catch-and-run to the Badgers’ 27, then scoring from there on a pass from Colt Wilkinson to Cavanaugh. That made it 30-0 with 5:45 left, where it stayed after the two-point pass failed.
The first half ended without further fireworks, with neither team reaching the other’s red zone.
The third quarter began with the ball in the Badgers’ hands, but a holding penalty killed the drive, forcing a punt. The Bulldogs got it back on their own 41, and Cavanaugh ran left for 29 on first down.
That moved the ball to A-LP’s 30, and four plays later, Wilkinson scrambled to his right from the 15, then tucked the ball and sprinted to the end zone. That pushed the lead to 36-0 with 7:02 left in the third, and 38-0 after the two-point pass.
It also started the clock on the mercy rule. Each team subbed in their reserves, and each team turned the ball over on downs to finish out the quarter.
The third quarter ended with A-LP freshman Caden Murphy carrying for 20 yards, and the fourth quarter began with Badgers’ sophomore Jake Larsen scoring on a 23-yard run. Freshman Josh McMasters added the two-point run, and with 11:06 left in the game, A-LP was finally on the board, down 38-8.
The Bulldogs’ reserves got the ball back at their own 40, and wasted little time in answering, with freshman Kadyn Fast taking it in from the 44 on the fifth play of the possession, with 7:11 left. That made it 44-8, and the remainder of the game played out with no further scoring.
The Bulldogs had a well-balanced rushing attack, with Alec Dobson gaining 70 yards on nine carries, Cavanaugh getting 55 yards on four carries, Garry gaining 35 yards on five carries, and reserve back Fast adding 56 yards on four carries. In all, De Smet rushed for 242 yards on 34 carries.
The Badgers, with top back Tate Larsen out with an injury after the first quarter, gained 121 yards on 29 carries. Denison led the way with 57 yards on 11 carries, and reserve back Murphy had 45 yards on five carries.
De Smet completed five of 11 passes for 138 yards, and A-LP completed five of 18 for 83 yards. Denison competed three of 12 for 29 yards, and backup quarterback Britt Carlson completed two of five for 54. On a trick play, wide receiver Mason Bunker threw deep, but was intercepted.
In all, De Smet had a run/pass edge of 380-204.
De Smet 8 22 8 6 44
A-LP 0 0 0 8 8