BY ROB WITZEL
---- — GEORGETOWN — For the second season in a row, the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils are Vermillion Valley Conference Champions.
The Blue Devils got the 42-19 win over the Georgetown-Ridge Farm/Chrisman Buffaloes just like they’ve won all their games this season, with a stingy defense and the dangerous three-some of running backs: Patrick Ganley, Mo Abbed and Donnie Powell.
“I don’t think there’s a better feeling (than winning the conference championship),” Ganley said “ It doesn’t happen often that a team is back to back conference champs and I’m really glad my class got to be a part of it.”
Ganley, Abbed and Powell each ran for over 100 yards and all scored at least once. Abbed led the way with 160 yards and two touchdowns, Ganley had 137 yards and two touchdowns and Donnie Powell ran for 107 yards and a touchdown.
“When we get our three backs running backs running hard and we can share the ball we’re pretty potent,” Blue Devils coach Mark Dodd said.
The loss was upsetting for the Buffaloes, but not nearly as upsetting as the very scary injury to sophomore quarterback Ethan Sliva. Sliva was hit while attempting a pass in the first half and had to be taken off the field on a stretcher.
Trailing 16-0 at the time of the injury, the Buffaloes stepped up offensively and defensively, rallying for their fallen teammate.
The Buffalo defense forced the Blue Devils into their first three and out of the night and blocked a punt. Their next time on the field, GRFC senior Dylan Bina would intercept a Dylan Allen pass attempt.
After the interception, backup quarterback Rylee Goodwin led the team on their first score of the night.
“Riley came in and played outstanding,” Buffaloes coach Josh Cavanaugh said. “I’m proud of him, he’s shown great character all year and has been always ready to go. He played great tonight.”
Bismarck started the game hot and was able to score on their first two possessions. First a 38-yard run by Ganley, followed by a two-point conversion pass from Dylan Allen to Powell and then later in the quarter an 80-yard drive was capped off with a 3-yard touchdown run by Abbed. Ganley ran for two more points and the Blue Devils took the 16-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Buffaloes responded with a 14-yard touchdown run by Bina.
The deficit was briefly shortened but the Blue Devils responded with a solid drive that ended with a 13 yard touchdown run by Powell that led to a 22-6 Blue Devil lead at the half.
Bismarck extended their lead with the only score in the third quarter with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Dustyn Ingram.
In the fourth quarter, Bismarck extended their lead substantially. Ganley ran in for a 5-yard score, followed by Abbed with a 25 yard touchdown run giving them the largest lead of the night 42-6.
GRFC was able to score a couple times late with a big 60 yard touchdown run by Bina and then a three-yard touchdown run by Troy Rodriguez that led to the 42-19 final score.
The loss takes GRFC’s record to 4-4 heading into the Coal Bucket Game. With both the Buffaloes and the Westville Tigers sitting one win away from playoff eligibility, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
“We have the luxury of that game meaning so much without the records, now it’s really going to mean a lot,” Cavanaugh said. “The winner’s going to get into the playoffs and the loser goes home. It’s going to be a great environment.”