Bulldogs fall in 9B semis
AVON — The De Smet Bulldogs saw their third straight Class 9B semifinal football game slip away Friday night, as the Avon Pirates punched their ticket to next week’s state title game with a 46-19 win at the Pirate Athletic Complex.
The Pirates used a relentless rushing attack to control the ball and the clock and De Smet was never able to stem the Avon ground game.
Avon struck quickly to start the game, as junior running back Aziah Meyer took a handoff, headed right and then cut back against the grain and the 6-foot, 4-inch, 190 pounder galloped 43 yards on the first play off the game to set Avon up deep in De Smet territory. This after a solid kickoff return that saw the Pirates start out near midfield.
Three plays later, Avon rode its wishbone offense to a first and goal and from there, the Pirates punched it into the endzone on a Meyer 2-yard run and after a conversion run Avon led 8-0 with just over two minutes elapsed in the game.
Seeking to strike back, the Bulldogs went to the air, but instead, missed on three straight tosses, giving the ball back to Avon. De Smet held the potent Pirate offense, forcing a punt, but then the Bulldogs fumbled the first play on the next drive, turning the ball over at the 12-yard line.
From there, Meyer carried twice, the final carry from four yards for the score. The conversion failed, but Avon led 14-0.
De Smet mounted its next drive with great field position and rode a pair of Kaden Fast runs for a first down, but facing a third and 14 play, quarterback Britt Carlson’s pass sailed and was intercepted.
As it has all season, the De Smet defense responded, forcing the Pirates into a three-and out, however, Carlson was injured making a tackle and the Bulldogs played without their senior quarterback for the remainder of the game.
De Smet was unable to generate any offense, kicking it back to the Pirates, who took over on their own 32-yard line. Meyer immediately ripped off a 21-yard run and the Avon offense began to rip off chunks of yardage. Meyer capped the nine play drive - every yard of it on the ground - with his second four-yard touchdown run. The conversion pass was incomplete, but De Smet was flagged for roughing the passer, and the Pirates handed it to Meyer, who scored the conversion for a 22-0 Avon lead.
With Carlson on the bench, running back Trace Van Regenmorter took the snaps for the Bulldogs. After De Smet collected a pair of first downs on the ground, Van Regenmorter faked a pitch to the right and set sail down the left sideline for a 25-yard run that set up a first and goal situation from the Avon seven-yard line.
The Pirate defense stiffened, forcing a fourth down decision. But Van Regenmorter lofted a pass that Fast caught and fell into the endzone with 1:09 to play in the half. Melville DeLoye kicked the extra point and the Bulldogs were on the board with the prospect of getting the second half kickoff.
But Tyler Tjeerdsma had different ideas, as the Pirates’ running back took the ensuing kickoff into De Smet territory. Two rushes by Meyer gave Avon a first down at the 20-yard line. But the Pirates pulled a switch on the next play, as Meyer took a pitch, ran to the left, then pulled up and tossed a pass to Tjeerdsma who was down at the one-yard line with 17 seconds to play. From there Meyer hit paydirt and the Pirates took a 30-7 lead into the halftime break.
Needing to get some momentum to get back into the game, the Bulldogs were instead forced to punt after a fruitless possession. Trace Pelton broke through the De Smet line for Avon and blocked the punt, establishing the Pirates swith a first down at the De Smet 29. Three running plays saw Meyer toting the ball the final 10 yards with 9:02 to play in the quarter and Avon led 38-7 after the conversion pass.
De Smet took to the air on its next possession, after a good return by Fast. Van Regenmorter dialed long distance and the call was answered by Tom Augenbaugh for 41 yards and two plays later, the duo hooked up again, this time for 22 yards and the score, making the score 38-13 after the conversion pass failed.
Avon was unable to muster any offense on its next possession and De Smet took over on downs on the Avon 37-yard line with just over five minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs took advantage of the field position, riding the legs of Slayten Wilkenson and Van Regenmorter to a first down at the Pirates’ 11-yard line. But Avon’s defense stiffened, forcing De Smet into a turn over on downs as the clock rolled past the two-minute mark in the quarter.
Avon, with the opportunity to slam the door on the Bulldogs, took over on their own two-yard line. Riding the legs of Meyer and fullback Landon Mudder - and aided by two unsportsman-like conduct penalties - the Pirates moved down the field in 11 plays and took six minutes off the clock as Bierema connected with Landon Thury for a 10-yard scoring pass with 10:48 to play. Meyer ran in the conversion that made it 46-13.
De Smet again took to the air, starting at their 44-yard line, and used three Van Regenmorter to Augenbaugh pitch-and-catch and a Wilkinson run to set up a first down at the Avon 12-yard line. But the last chance De Smet had to get back in the game ended with a fumble that the Pirates recovered with just over eight minutes to play and after a pair of Avon first downs the teams began to substitute liberally, giving the younger player an opportunity to get a little playoff playing time.
The Pirates will face the Faulkton Area Trojans, who rolled over Potter County 42-0, for the Class 9B state championship Thursday morning in the DakotaDoma. Kickoff is scheduled for 10 a.m.
Score by quarters
De Smet 0 7 6 6 — 19
Avon 14 16 8 8 — 46
AVON — 9:55 - Aziah Meyer, 2-yard run. (Tyler Tjeerdsma conversion run)
AVON — 3:26 - Meyer, 4-yard run. Conversion failed
AVON — 5:04 - Meyer, 4-yard run. (Meyer conversion run)
DE SMET — 1:09 - Kaden Fast, 7-yard pass from Trace Van Regenmorter. (Melville Deloye kick was good).
AVON — :08 - Meyer, 1-yard run. (Tjeerdsma conversion pass from Paxton Bierema)
AVON — 9:02 - Meyer, 10-yard run. (Tjeerdsma, conversion pass from Bierema)
DE SMET — 7:51 - Tom Augenbaugh, 23-yard pass from Van Regenmorter. (Conversion failed)
AVON — 10:48 - Landon Thury, 10-yard pass from Bierema. (Meyer conversion run)
DE SMET — 1:15 - Blake Jennings, 5-yard run. (Conversion failed)