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UND Earns Sweep with 5-4 Win Over Bemidji State
Grand Forks -- With heavy losses of players to the professional ranks after UND's eighth national championship last April, nobody expected coach Brad Berry's youthful team to pick right up where that team left off. Still, No. 1-ranked North Dakota improved to 5-0 this season tonight with a 5-4 non-conference victory over Bemidji State and a sweep of the series. In contrast, last year's title team posted a 3-0-2 record through its first five games to start its championship run. The post-game talk from the winning team centered on this game providing a lesson to be learned, albeit in victory, after Bemidji State turned a 5-1 deficit into a harrowing 5-4 finish. "Obviously in the third (period), you don't like to see yourself let up a lead like that,'' Fighting Hawks captain Gage Ausmus said. "At the same time, we beat Bemidji two nights in a row, and that's a good accomplishment.'' The Beavers came into the series with a 4-0 record and a No. 18 national ranking and showed their trademark willingness to compete to the end. BSU made it interesting with power-play goals from Jay Dickman and Brendan Harms and a shorthanded goal from Dillon Eichstadt to make for a tense finish for a sellout crowd of 11,898 at Ralph Engelstad Arena. FULL STORY

Defense Lifts NDSU to 21-13 Win Over Western Illinois
Fargo -- North Dakota State's defense blocked two kicks and forced three fourth-quarter turnovers to lift the No. 4-ranked Bison to a 21-13 victory over 12th-ranked Western Illinois in the Missouri Valley Football Conference on Saturday. King Frazier rushed for a pair of touchdowns and Jeff Illies caught a 17-yard touchdown pass as the Bison (6-1, 3-1 MVFC) built a 21-6 lead by halftime. Western Illinois (5-2, 2-2 MVFC) scored on its first possession of the second half, but the Fighting Leathernecks had a field goal blocked, fumbled inside the NDSU 1, and threw two interceptions on their final four possessions. A defensive offside call forced NDSU to make two stops on fourth-and-goal from the 1 midway through the fourth quarter.  Linebacker Matt Plank forced a fumble and Pierre Gee-Tucker recovered in the end zone for a touchback. The Bison went three-and-out on the next series but got the ball back three plays later when Jalen Allison picked off Sean McGuire near midfield. NDSU took 4:39 off the clock on a 10-play drive before stalling at the WIU 28 on a fourth-down try with 49 seconds left in the game.  Tre Dempsey's interception on the next play allowed the Bison to kneel out the clock. FULL STORY

Ashbrook’s Career First Lifts Bobcats to 2-1 Win

Bismarck -- Tied with less than 10 minutes left in regulation Saturday, the Bismarck Bobcats got back ahead on Tristan Ashbrook’s first career goal and never looked back, edging the Brookings Blizzard 2-1 at the VFW Sports Center. Sitting even at 1-1, the Bobcat forward Luke Millen won a neutral zone wall battle, freeing the puck to Ashbrook, who strode to the left wing circle and sent a low slap shot inside the left post past former Bobcat netminder Nick Althaus with 6:53 left for a 2-1 lead. “I just looked around when I got into the zone, and saw [Althaus] might be screened by his own ‘D’ so I decided to get it on net,” recalled Ashbrook, who was in the Cats’ starting lineup for the second straight game. “It feels great to be able to get my first goal in a way that helps our team get a win and sweep a home weekend like that.” For the third straight game, the Bobcats drew first blood Saturday—5:16 into the game—on the power play when Zach Kennedy rifled a slap shot that rang the back bar and flew back out so fast that play continued back up the ice, but the referees ruled it to be a goal, lifting the Cats to a 1-0 edge.  FULL STORY

Off the Saddle!
Aggies Down Cowboys

Killdeer -- The Killdeer Cowboys were looking for a third straight trip to the Dakota Bowl, while the Velva/Sawyer Aggies were looking for revenge, since they had lost to the Cowboys in last year’s state semifinals. They got their revenge with a 28 to 9 win. The game started out with the Aggies quarterback Nick Effertz finding Hunter Brabandt for a 15 yard touchdown. On the next possession for Killdeer, a costly fumble gave the Aggies great field position, and another connection from Effertz to Brabandt that made it 12 to 0. The Cowboys continued to shoot themselves in the foot, fumbling three more times in the game, and falling behind 28 to 0 in the 2nd quarter. The Cowboys defense stiffened in the second half, but the offense couldn’t get any consistent traction, and the Aggies defense continued to play well. Tough way to end a good season for the Cowboys, but they simply committed too many turnovers to expect to beat a good team like the Aggies. Velva/Sawyer will travel to Des Lacs-Burlington next week in the quarterfinals. FULL STORY

Paddle Trophy Heads Back to Red River Valley as Dragons Row Past Marauders
Bismarck -- The Paddle Trophy will remain in the Red River Valley instead of coming back to the shores of the Missouri River. Hoping to once again reclaim the travelling trophy, the University of Mary instead fell 47-16 to visiting MSU Moorhead in Northern Sun football. The 11th Battle for the Paddle, the Marauders won the first seven meetings and eight times total. The Dragons captured the trophy in consecutive seasons for the first time and owns three wins in the series. Behind a big day by quarterback Demetrius Carr, the Dragons (4-4 overall/NSIC, 2-2 NSIC North) offense proved fairly unstoppable on the day, reaching the end zone on seven of ten possessions. MSUM punted once and was forced into just a single turnover after averaging close to three a game.  FULL STORY  

MSU, Zahniser Rush Past UMC
Minot -- Minot State University wanted to establish a running game Saturday. Ben Zahniser and company made sure it happened. Zahniser, a true freshman, set a school record with 264 yards rushing and tied another as he scored four times while the MSU defense made a couple key stops down the stretch to push the Beavers to a 38-30 win over Minnesota Crookston in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium. "It's pretty cool," Zahniser said of the school record. "I have to give the credit to the lineman. I saw some holes during the game I've never seen before in my life. I really expect us to be good over the next few years. This gives us some confidence. We're really happy right now, everybody's pumped up and excited." He keyed a backfield that rolled to a season-high 320 yards rushing. While he was the focal point of the rushing attack, the Beavers also got 61 yards from senior Jarvis Mustipher and 14 from Tyere Hunter as the Beavers amassed a season-high 515 total yards. "You never go into games thinking a record could be broken, but Ben's done a nice job," head coach Tyler Hughes said. "All year we've emphasized that our backs are sharp with their reads and cuts.  FULL STORY

Bismarck Larks Launch
New Baseball Franchise

Bismarck -- Western North Dakota’s new Northwoods League Baseball Team has officially been announced as the “Bismarck Larks” after receiving over 500 submissions and 1,000 votes, named after the state bird the Meadowlark. “We’re so happy to develop a brand that is not only fun but represents the community we serve,” said John Bollinger, the team’s General Manager. “It’s the state bird, we’re in the state capital, it just makes sense. And it’s fun! Fans will really enjoy how we integrate the Larks theme at the ballpark.” The Bismarck Larks will make their debut in Spring 2017, and will play all 36 home games at the newly renovated Bismarck Municipal Park. The roughly 1500 seat stadium has been in use since 1921 and been home to many former teams. Outside of American Legion Baseball, and regional NDHSAA teams, Bismarck has not facilitated a semi-league team since 1996, with the defunct Prairie League’s Dakota Rattlers. The Northwoods League is a collegiate summer baseball league, with the Bismarck Larks now the second semi-professional team in North Dakota, after the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball’s Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. FULL STORY

DSU Football Jumps Two Spots to #12 in the Latest 2016 NAIA Football Coaches’ Top 25 Poll
-- The Dickinson State University Football team has jumped to #12 in the sixth regular-season edition of the NAIA Football Coaches' Top 25 Poll, the national office announced. The Blue Hawks are currently 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the North Star Athletic Association. Dickinson State is on a six game winning streak after their latest win on Saturday over the University of Jamestown. In the six games, DSU has outscored their opponents 259 to 102. The Blue Hawks finish their 2016 regular season home games this Saturday when they host the Dakota State University Trojans before hitting the road to Black Hills State, Mayville State and finish the regular season at the University of Jamestown in a non-conference game.  FULL STORY

By Jeff Baranick
Beulah -- The North Dakota state playoffs for prep football continued this past weekend in the 9-man ranks and commenced in Class A, with 16 games played in all, evenly divided between those two gridiron divisions.  KDKT Sports Radio was on-hand in the Bakken Oil Patch to call all the action in an opening-round A clash between visiting Velva-Sawyer and 3rd-ranked Killdeer. The opportunistic Aggies from Region 3 took advantage of five Killdeer turnovers--three in the first half--to vanquish the home-standing Cowboys 28-9. Leading the way for Velva-Sawyer was 225-lb Jr quarterback Nick Effertz who completed a dozen passes in 27 attempts for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Two of those scoring tosses were directed at Jr wideout Hunter Brabandt and one to Soph WR Hayden Lee.   Velva-Sawyer improved to 7-2 on the fall campaign and will move on to the state-quarterfinals to collide with regional rival Des Lacs-Burlington this upcoming Saturday afternoon. Killdeer ended its 2016 season with a final won-loss ledger of 6-3. In other Class A playoff showdowns last Saturday, 2nd-ranked Langdon Area-Munich outraced Carrington 54-39; Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm spanked two-time defending state champion Park River-Fordville-Lankin 48-22; and 4th-rated Minot Ryan blitzed Heart River 62-33. For Round 2 of the playoffs this Saturday afternoon, Langdon Area-Munich will clash with Northern Cass; Ellendale-Edgeley-Kulm will confront top-ranked Larimore; and Minot Ryan will collide with 5th-rated Hazen. That last matchup will be called live on KDKT Sports Radio. In 9-man post-season play, most of the ranked teams prevailed in their weekend playoff clashes, with #1 Thompson crushing defending state champion Richland 66-19, but Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter surprising #4 Cavalier 32-26. In other Saturday matchups, 2nd-ranked Shiloh Christian outlasted Wyndmere-Lidgerwood 46-41 (getting 5 touchdowns from Soph RB Canaan Fagerland); #3 North Prairie steamrolled Divide County 62-6; Hankinson downed Kidder County 24-16; St. John edged Mohall-Lansford-Sherwood 16-14; #5 New Salem-Almont-Glen Ullin buried Towner-Granville-Upham 40-12; and Kenmare-Bowbells-Burke Central crunched Richardton-Taylor-Hebron 38-8. This past week (either Tuesday or Wednesday) also saw AA & AAA teams play their regular-season finales; and KDKT Sports Radio provided live coverage from the Bakken of a contest between 3rd-ranked Beulah and Watford City at brand-new Fred Fridley Field. The visiting Miners disposed of the Wolves 35-8, getting a pair of rushing TDS covering 17 & 24 yards from Jr RB Derek Ferebee, who amassed 94 ground yards on just 15 carries. Also tallying a pair of touchdowns was Jr RB/LB Mikey Morris. He opened scoring with a 2-yard burst to paydirt and also reached the endzone on an 80-yard dash after taking a lateral from teammate Tyrel Mellmer. Mellmer had intercepted Watford City Jr QB Cooper Knutson at the goal-line, and then advanced the pigskin 20 yards before shoveling it off to Morris. Beulah improved to 8-1 on the season and secured for itself the West Region's #2 seed (behind top-ranked and undefeated Bismarck St. Mary's) and a quarterfinal-round tussle at home next Saturday versus 5th-ranked Kindred. Meanwhile, St. Mary's doubled up Valley City last Saturday night 40-20 to finish the regular season 9-0 and set the stage for its playoff-opener next Saturday afternoon in the Capital City against the East Region's 4th-place squad, Central Cass. Also last week, Dickinson Trinity clinched the West Region's 3rd-seed by virtue of its 29-7 thrashing of Stanley-Powers Lake. The Titans will now journey this weekend to 4th-ranked Hillsboro-Central Valley, which nabbed 2nd place in the East Region notwithstanding its 28-8 setback to 2nd-rated Fargo Shanley last Saturday evening. Shanley, as the East Region's top-seeded team, will host Watford City in the state quarterfinals next Saturday. Class AAA squads also wrapped up regular-season action this past mid-week, with the following results: #1 West Fargo walloped Devils Lake 42-7; #2 Century crushed Williston 48-14; 3rd-rated Minot manhandled Dickinson 42-13; 4th-rated Bismarck blasted Mandan 69-25; and 5th-ranked Legacy blanked Jamestown 37-0. Additionally, Fargo South defeated Fargo Davies 47-21. What awaits this Friday evening are quarterfinal-round showdowns in the state playoffs. West Fargo hosts Legacy; Century entertains Fargo South; Bismarck visits West Fargo Sheyenne; and Minot welcomes Grand Forks Red River. North Dakota prep cross-country runners concluded their fall season last Saturday with the state meet in Jamestown for Class B and Class A harriers, both boys and girls. In the B boys' division, New Town cruised to its 5th-straight state championship, tallying a low-team-total of 18 points. Eagles' runners grabbed places 1, 2, 4, 5, & 6, paced by race champion Jalen Chase who registered a 5K time of 15:49.53. Other squads finishing among the top-five were Rugby, Bowman County, Hillsboro-Central Valley, and Beulah-Hazen. Century won its first-ever boys' crown in Class A cross-country, outpacing the field with 62 points. Williston and Bismarck finished 2nd & 3rd in the team standings. Individual winner was Fargo Davies' Hunter Lucas who clocked 15:30.4 for the 5K course. That was just one second better than runner-up Leif Everson of Williston. In the Class A girls' competition, Fargo Davies prevailed over its closest pursuers for the state championship--Century and Grand Forks Central--by tallying a team-best 71 points. Seizing the individual title was Karly Ackley of Grand Forks Central with her 5K time of 17:13.15. In the Class B girls' competition, Hillsboro-Central Valley claimed its sixth-consecutive state title with 133 markers, holding off second-place Bowman County (151 points) and third-place Rugby (153 points). Reagan Baesler of H-CV earned her second-straight individual championship, finishing the 5K race in 18:11.80. Finally, there were a spate of Class B volleyball matches staged statewide last week as the regular season quickly draws to a close. Beulah won a 3-2 nailbiter over Killdeer in Region 7 action, only to fall the following evening in non-regional play to Watford City, 3-1. Western teams earning 3-0 sweeps in recent days were Center-Stanton, Shiloh Christian, Grant County, Flasher, and Minot Our Redeemer's over Underwood, Washburn, Richardton-Taylor, Standing Rock, and Dickinson Trinity, respectively. Additionally, Garrison-Max defeated New Salem-Almont 3-1 and Grant County nipped Wilton-Wing 3-2.

Filed by Veteran KDKT Sportscaster Jeff Baranick

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