The Milbank Area Bulldogs secured its first I-29 Conference championship title Friday night. They cruised to a 46-13 victory over the Sisseton Redmen. The Dawgs improved to 6-2 with just one regular season matchup remaining.
Milbank Area’s defense started the game a bit slow. The Bulldogs were unable to shut down the Sisseton offense and were caught off guard on a Redmen pass for a 26-yard touchdown to start the game. The extra point kick was good giving Sisseton a 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs took over on offense. Facing third down, Isaac Snaza dumped the ball over a defender and into the hands of Tristan Hall who took it 64 yards to the house. The PAT missed its mark and the Dawgs trailed 7-6.
Sisseton marched down the field on its next offensive series and landed inside the red zone at the 10-yard-line. The Redmen threatened to widen the gap, but were stalled out with excellent defensive coverage by Snaza, Riley Wollschlager and Derrick Aho. Sisseton turned the ball over on downs to Milbank Area.
The Dawgs were unable to carry the momentum on offense and were forced to punt after a three-and-out which gave the Redmen the short field advantage. On a long Sisseton bomb near the end zone, Wollschlager came up with a big interception to give Milbank Area another shot on offense. Unfortunately, the Bulldogs could not convert the turnover into points on the board, and the first quarter came to an end.
Milbank Area came up with another big defensive stance when it held the Redmen scoreless inside the red zone early in the second quarter. Sisseton turned the ball over on downs which the Dawgs used to its advantage. A few plays later, Kyle Montag weaved through the Redmen defense and turned on his after-burners and sprinted 69 yards to the end zone. Snaza added the two-point conversion run to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead.
On its next offensive series, the Dawgs found paydirt with a 55-yard connection from Jonny Ash to Montag for a TD. The conversion attempt was no good and Milbank Area headed into halftime with a 20-7 advantage.
Cole Dockter started out the second half with 40-yard kickoff return. Two plays later, Montag followed up with a 46-yard TD scamper to extend the Bulldog lead to 26-7. The PAT failed. A Sisseton fumble would set up yet another score for the Bulldogs. Montag would find the end zone again later in the quarter with a four-yard TD run to widen the gap to 32-7. Sisseton wrapped up the third period with a three-yard TD to move the score to 32-13.
Just seconds into the final stanza, Ash tossed up a long ball over the shoulder and into the arms of Jacob Jackson for another Bulldog touchdown. Jackson caught the conversion pass in the corner of the end zone to give Milbank Area a commanding 40-13 lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, Wollschlager picked up a Sisseton fumble and returned it 39 yards for a defensive touchdown and the final score of the game. Milbank Area held on while the clock hit zero for the 46-13 victory.
“Defensively we didn’t improve with our fits as well as I would have liked to see,” noted Milbank Area head football coach Jeremy Tostenson. “However, we did get some big turnovers. Offensively, it was nice to see our passing game improve.”
Montag led the Bulldog ground attack with 124 yards rushing on five carries and three touchdowns. He added 55 yards receiving with one catch for a score. Hall followed with 53 yards rushing on nine totes and 64 yards receiving with one TD. Also, racking up yards in the running game were Koben Huber, 35 yards on four carries; Tanner Gauer, 23 yards on nine totes; Cole Dockter, eight yards on two carries, and Snaza and Jake Karges, five yards on one carry each. Jackson added 46 yards on two catches and one TD while Gauer caught one ball for 20 yards and Dockter, one catch for seven yards. Snaza went 2-4 passing for 75 yards and one TD while Ash was 4-5 for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Jake Anderson led the team with 11 tackles. Devin Stricherz followed with seven while Huber added six, Ben Nelson, five, and Aho, Zach Angerhofer and Tanner Kettwig, four each. Also contributing were Karges, three; Gauer, Dockter and James Weber, two, and Cody Dockter, Snaza, Mitch Quade, Montag, Wollschlager, Matt Lenards and Riley Folk, one apiece. Wollschlager finished with two interceptions and one fumble recovery for a TD. Cody Dockter collected one interception while Cole Dockter recovered a fumble.
Milbank Area wrapped up the victory with 437 total yards of offense. The Bulldogs gained 245 yards rushing and 192 yards passing. Sisseton finished with 314 offensive yards including 152 yards rushing and 162 yards passing.
Milbank Area will conclude their regular season Thursday at Madison in the battle of the Bulldogs. The locals currently sit in the seventh position in Class 11A and will secure a playoff spot. Their opponent in the first round of the playoffs is yet to be determined. “A lot could happen in this last week of the regular season,” noted Tostenson.
Madison and St. Thomas More are currently tied for first with a record of 8-0 and 46.250 power points. The remainder of the top eight teams include West Central (7-1 record, 45.250 points), Belle Fourche (7-1 record, 44.125 points), Lennox (6-2 record, 43.500 points), Sioux Falls Christian (7-1 record, 43.375 points) and Hot Springs and Tea Area (both with a 5-3 record and 42.125 points). The top eight teams will be seeded and enter the playoffs with the first round taking place Thursday, October 29.