Saints bottle up Titans
Bismarck St. Mary's put the pedal to the metal early Friday night and, in the process, put Dickinson Trinity in a hole too deep to dig out of.
Before the Titans could even get their bearings Friday night, the No. 2-ranked Saints had taken a four-touchdown lead.
The Saints' four scores came on their first five offensive plays -- two of them immediately after Trinity turnovers -- and they went on cruise control after that to remain unbeaten with a 42-12 Class 2A, West Region victory at the Biesiot Activities Center.
"I was pleased with the start. I was pleased we got going right away," Saints head coach Dan Smrekar said. "I'm not very happy that we got sloppy with the football and sloppy with some execution down the stretch in the second half."
Sloppiness aside, the Saints (5-0, 3-0 West) built themselves one heck of a cushion -- and it only took them 42 seconds with the football to do it.
Jacob Heinert scored a 14-yard touchdown on the Saints' second play from scrimmage. Then, after the Titans botched a punt snap, Noah Krebs rumbled in from 1 yard out. One minute, 45 seconds into the game, the Saints led 14-0.
A 41-yard Byrne Curl punt return on the Saints' next series set up Heinert's second touchdown from 14 yards out. A Trinity fumble on their next play set up the Saints' first pass of the game, which went 36 yards from Gus Smrekar to Brian Obritsch and helped give the Saints a 28-0 less than 4 minutes into the game.
Heinert rushed for 130 yards on 17 carries as the Saints gained 329 of their 393 yards on the ground.
"That's been the story of the season all year," Trinity head coach John Odermann said. "We have half a quarter that is just bad, the train comes off the rails."
The Titans (0-5, 0-3 West) eventually got back on track.
They came up just short on their best drive of the first half, a 12-play series that took 6 minutes off the clock but stalled at the Saints' 3-yard line.
St. Mary's responded with an eight-play, 99-yard drive -- a false start on the opening play pushed them back to the 1 -- spearheaded by fullback Noah Krebs but capped on a 1-yard run by Darius Sparks to give the Saints a 35-0 halftime lead.
In the second half, Trinity found some daylight.
Rallying behind sophomore running back Coltyn Nelson, the Titans scored back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter.
Though some of the Titans' damage came against St. Mary's backups, Odermann said his team's second-half performance was a breath of fresh air.
After two first-down carries by Nelson, Willy Jahner hit Joe Mayer for a 43-yard touchdown. On Trinity's next series, they drove 64 yards on 10 plays, capping it off with a 2-yard scoring run from Nelson.
"This was the kind of thing we needed," said Odermann, a first-year head coach still looking for his first career victory. "That second half, we played with the No. 2 team in the state. That's something we've been looking for -- for these kids to take ownership, step up and start making some plays, especially on defense."
Sophomore Zach Kubas was a bright spot on defense for the Titans, coming up with three sacks and nine tackles.
Nelson rushed for 64 of his team-high 85 yards in the second half. Sophomore quarterback Willy Jahner was 4 of 13 for 97 yards and an interception.
St. Mary's added a touchdown with 56 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter after Curl took off running after a high punt snap and rumbled 60 yards into the end zone.
Odermann hopes the Titans' second-half bright spots carry over into next week's game when they travel to Belcourt to face Turtle Mountain.
"We've just got to keep getting better every week," he said. "This game here, we showed that when we've got things clicking and we're not making those mental mistakes, things can go really well."
SM 28 7 0 7 -- 42
Trinity 0 0 12 0 -- 12
SM-Jacob Heinert 5 run (Will Litchfield kick), 11:36.
SM-Noah Krebs 1 run (Litchfield kick), 10:15.
SM-Heinert 14 run (Litchfield kick), 8:26.
SM-Brian Obritsch 36 pass from Gus Smrekar (Litchfield kick), 8:07.
SM-Darius Sparks 1 run (Litchfield kick), 2:57.
T-Joe Mayer 43 pass from Willy Jahner (kick failed), 9:25.
T-Coltyn Nelson 2 run (kick failed), 1:45.
SM-Byrne Curl 60 run (Litchfield kick), :56
RUSHING: SM, Heinert 17-130, Krebs 7-75, Will Litchfield 7-20, Smrekar 5-(minus-17), Jacob Schwab 3-33, Nathan Schmacher 3-21, Sparks 3-11, Curl 1-60, Logan Pieterick 1-(minus-4). T, Nelson 16-85, Cole Beck 12-65, Jahner 8-(minus-14), Mark Ververka 4-14, Michael Knopik 1-0, Lucas Jones 1-(minus-3), Colton Steiner 1-(minus-6), Scheer 1-(minus-17).
PASSING: SM, Smrekar 3-6-0 64. T, Jahner 4-13-1 97.
RECEIVING: SM, Obritsch 1-36, Schwab 1-14, Sparks 1-14. T, Meyer 2-67, Conner Friske 1-25, Nelson 1-5.