Bowman County swipe region crown away from Beulah
It was a clash of two of the top teams in the 11B southwest region Friday night in Beulah.
Only a game separated the two in the 11B southwest region standings, but Beulah had positioned themselves atop the division rankings, coming into the matchup rated No. 1 in the latest NDHSAA media poll. Friday night's matchup between the Bulldogs and Miners was essentially a southwest region championship game.
It was a tall task for Bowman County to deliver on the road to capture a region championship, but they came out swinging and delivered punch after punch to make the best team in 11B look out of sorts.
The Bulldogs (6-1, 8-1) held the Miners (6-1, 8-1) to their lowest point total of the season in their biggest game in a 34-8 win ahead of next week's playoffs.
The key for Bowman County was getting a sizable lead in the second half which forced the unorthodox rushing attack for Beulah to play catch-up. With the Miners dropping back to pass more than they would’ve liked, it allowed the pass rush for the Bulldogs to get home.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Bowman County head coach Nick Walker said. “I’m proud of the pride we have in our school. We had a lot of our student body here. I’ve said all year the best thing we have going is the pride our students have for each other.”
It was a fast start for the visitors. They got the ball first and drove right down the field for a 6-0 lead, coming from quarterback Quaid Lardy on a 1-yard run. The Bulldogs held the Miners up on fourth down on the ensuing drive, making an early statement.
However, Beulah tied it up when running back Amari Gilmore rumbled into the end zone from two yards out to make it 6-6 early in the second quarter.
But the offensive attack continued for Bowman County, with Lardy finding wide receiver Clay Heimer up high for a 25-yard touchdown. Heimer made a great play on the ball, snatching it out of the air at it’s high point. It was 14-6 after Heimer caught the two-point conversion.
What came next was the highlight of the night. Gilmore broke free for what he thought would be a long gain, but Bulldogs defensive back Bohden Duffield took the ball from his hands at midfield and ran the other way with it for a touchdown.
It stood 21-6 as Bowman County began to believe in the upset.
“Bohden has had a phenomenal year,” Walker said. “For a young corner he’s grown. He wants the other team's best receiver every week. His two plays were key to the game. Not only did we get a score but we got amazing field position which led to a touchdown.”
Bohden Duffield’s other highlight came in the third quarter when he secured an interception and returned it deep into Miners’ territory to set up another scoring drive.
Beulah could never find their rhythm on offense. Their run game didn’t fool the Bulldogs as much as they hoped for and had to drop back to pass in order to generate chunk plays.
It seemed like every time the Miners looked to pass, they had little to no time to throw, with defensive lineman Mace Stuber linebacker Carson Massey playing a big role, recording multiple sacks on the night.
“Our kids hung in,” Walker said. “We got them in some longer yards, I thought Massey coming off the edge played unbelievable.”
Bowman County continued to attack on offense, with running back Bishop Duffield finding a lot of space and not going down easy. He eventually found the end zone in the third quarter from 26 yards out to make it 27-6 to stun the home crowd.
Heimer another touchdown on the ground later in the quarter from one yard out to make it 34-6.
“We were able to run the football,” Walker said. “Their inside linebacker is a dude and their front is really good. We were able to establish the run which opened up things for Clay and Quaid in the passing game.”
Everything was going right for the Bulldogs on the night. They had a punt downed inside the 10-yard line and had a goal line stop in the fourth quarter with the Miners desperately trying to get back into the game.
But nothing was going to stop Bowman County’s determination on the night as they took the win and the southwest region crown for the third time in the last four seasons.
The Bulldogs defense has been the stingiest in the region this season, allowing only 8 points per game in seven regional games.
They’ll wait and see who they’ll match up against in next week’s playoffs. Depending on how the four region champions are ranked, Bowman County could be in line for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
BC - 6 15 13 0 34
BM - 0 6 0 2 8
BC - Quaid Lardy 1 yard run (extra point no good), 6-0
BM - Amari Gilmore 2 yard run (extra point no good), 6-6
BC - Clay Heimer 23 yard catch from Lardy (two-point conversion good), 14-6
BC - Bohden Duffield 53 yard fumble return (extra point good), 21-6
BC - Bishop Duffield 26 yard run (extra point no good), 27-6
BC - Bi. Duffield 1 yard run (extra point good), 34-6
BM - Beulah safety, 34-8