In very tight fashion, the Big Sandy football team was able to extend its season at least one more week.
Saturday, the Northern C Six-Man Pioneers were in Grenora, N.D. for the state quarterfinals. And after trailing late, the Pioneers were able to come away with the 46-44 win over the MonDak Thunder. The win puts the Pioneers (9-1) in a good position, as they will host Valier in the semifinals this Saturday in Big Sandy.
The Pioneers stuck to their game plan, and found it to be successful, especially late in the game.
The Thunder are a fast offense that loves to run spread formations and air out the ball. And with speedy skill players, the style almost worked on the Pioneers.
“I think we were more physical than they were,” Big Sandy head coach Greg King said. “And that gave us a chance to last with them that long. They tried to spread out the offense and take advantage of their speed, and we tried to eat up the clock by running the ball. But we tried to be more physical than they were and it seemed to work out ok.”
At intermission, the Pioneers led 33-30, but that was after trailing off and on through two quarters. And the Thunder regained the lead in the third quarter, as they took a 38-33 lead after holding the pioneer scoreless in the frame. But as Big Sandy continued to play physical, and continued to play with a run first mentality, they finally wore down the Thunder and earned the win.
Big Sandy outscored the Thunder 13-6 in the fourth quarter, just good enough for the two-point victory. Jesse Bailey scored on a 12-yard run, and Kaden Beck reeled in an 11-yard pass from Trevor Lackner late in the game to give the Pioneers the edge.
Lackner accounted for four touchdowns, passing for two, rushing for one, and returning an interception for a score. Bailey also had three scores, finding the end zone on a 35-yard rush and a three-yard rush.
Physical play was key for the Pioneers, as was the rushing game, its success also opening the door for the passing game.
“It did help,” King said. “We ran a couple of screen passes, because they started to blitz pretty hard after a while. But we had the chance to throw some passes because we had them looking for the run.
“And with how quick they were,” King added. “We had to try something to make it where we would be there in the end. We needed to have a shot to win at the end, and playing hard, physical football gave us that chance.”
With the win, the Pioneers are just one win away from playing in the state championship game. Big Sandy is now in its third straight Six-Man semifinal, but this will be its first at home.
To get to the champinship game, the Pioneers will have to avenge their only loss of the season. Valier beat Big Sandy last month in Big Sandy. Saturday's Six-man semifinal between the Pioneers and Panthers will kick off at 1 p.m. in Big Sandy. The winner will travel to either Hot Springs or Geraldine-Highwood for the state championship game.
Big Sandy 46, Westby/Grenora 44
Big Sandy 19 14 0 13 — 46
Westby/Grenora 14 16 8 6 — 44
Big Sandy (9-1) — Jesse Bailey 35 run (kick fail); Lane Martin 12 pass from Trevor Lackner (kick fail); Jesse Bailey 3 run (Lane Martin pass from Trevor Lackner); Trevor Lackner 20 run (Jesse Bailey run); Trevor Lackner 60 interception return (Zac Leader pass from Trevor Lackner); Jesse Bailey 12 run (pass fail); Kaden Beck 11 pass from Trevor Lackner (Trevor Lackner run).
Westby-Grenora (8-2) — Thomas Field 55 pass from Cooper Olson (Myka Penny kick); Field 24 pass from C. Olson (kick fail); Penny 2 pass from C. Olson (Penny kick); Field 55 pass from Brady Olson (Penny kick); B. Olson 25 run (Penny kick); B. Olson 52 kickoff return (kick fail).