MINOT (NewsDakota.com) – Minot Bishop Ryan packed the line, Austin Svenningsen sold the play fake, and Tayler Lentz did the rest.
Svenningsen and Lentz hooked up for a 33-yard clinching touchdown on a fourth-and-one play late in the game Saturday as the Valley City Hi-Liners went on the road and knocked off Bishop Ryan 24-14 in the first round of the Division AA playoffs.
Valley City never trailed in the game, and clinging to a 16-14 lead faced a fourth-and-one on the Ryan 33-yard line with just over a minute remaining in the game. Minot Bishop Ryan packed the line, no doubt expecting a bruising run from Anthony Olstad up the middle, a play they had stopped on Valley City’s previous fourth-and-one attempt.
Svenningsen sold a fake hand off to Olstad up the middle, patiently waiting for Lentz to come open down the field. With a defender draped all over him, Lentz caught the ball for a first down at about the 20-yard line, but wasn’t done there, breaking a tackle and then carrying a defender with him into the end zone for the game-clinching score.
It capped off a solid all-around game for the Hi-Liners, who sprung an upset on the top team from the West. All the scoring beside the Lentz touchdown came in the first half. The Hi-Liners racked up 312 total rushing yards int he victory, including 138 yards on 27 carries by Anthony Olstad. Brandon Breckheimer had 87 yards on 10 carries, Shane Undem had 52 rushing yards and Dustin Lindgren had 34 yards on the ground as part of a balanced attack.
Valley City took the opening kickoff and marched 84 yards for a touchdown drive capped off by Undem from 7 yards out.
Undem added the two-point conversion, putting Valley City up 8-0. Minot Ryan answered back with a score of their own, a five-yard run by quarterback Austin Eggl. Ryan kicked the extra point to make it 8-7.
Valley City took over at their own 29 on their second drive, again marched down the field, and this time it was Svenningsen who capped it off.
Svenningsen then found Kyle Knutson in the corner of the end zone for a big two-point conversion and a 16-7 lead. Ryan would score a touchdown with 3 seconds remaining in the half on a 16-yard connection from Eggl to Nick Berentson.
The extra point made it 16-14 Valley City at the half, and what would follow was a second-half defensive struggle until the final minute. Lentz’ clinching touchdown was set up by a late turnover by Ryan.
Valley City (6-3) advances to the AA semifinals and will go on the road to face Grafton on Saturday, Nov. 3. Kickoff has been set for 2 p.m. in Grafton. Valley City lost to Grafton 20-12 earlier this season. Saturday’s other semifinal will feature Beulah on the road at Fargo Shanley. That one will kick off at 2:30 p.m.
Ryan ends its season with a 7-3 record.
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