The Bulldogs’ pulled off a 6-0 win to stun the No. 2 Canton C-Hawks in the first round of the 11A football playoffs. The Bulldogs now advance to the semi-final round to play Vermillion at the DakotaDome on Friday, November 5.
Brian Allmendinger, head coach for the Bulldogs, said, “Our defense had arguably their best game of the year against Canton. The guys played extremely hard against a great team. Our offense did just enough to secure the win.”
The game against the C-Hawks was low on offense, but high on tension. Milbank kept most of their excitement bottled up until the clock ran out and the two teams had bid each other goodbye. Then, the Bulldogs finally realized they could celebrate with a happy dance and let off a little steam in the endzone.
The Bulldogs’ defense kept Canton on a short chain all night and manhandled their top receiver Payton Eben whenever he touched the ball. The one series when Eben got some traction came late in the first half and disappeared like candy on Halloween. The Bulldogs’ defense stepped up again, snuffed out the C-Hawks chances for a touchdown, and forced them into a harried and unsuccessful field goal attempt.
On a Bulldogs’ possession in the third quarter, running back Bennett Schwenn, who just returned to action, scored the lone touchdown for Milbank on a 32-yard run. The conversion attempt failed, but six points turned out to be enough.
Once the Bulldogs had points on the board, the defense remained tough and protected their lead. They continued to deny the C-Hawks yardage and forced three fumbles. The Dawgs recovered two loose balls in the fourth quarter to keep the C-Hawks off balance and away from the endzone.
Karson Weber led the defense with five tackles and an assist. Schwenn, Kaden Krause, and Evan Hausauer, each made three and an assist. Junior Sawyer Gauer had three. Jace Rufer took down two, and junior Eli Johnson, Leyton Raffety, Madox Hanson, and Connor Bender had one apiece. Raffety and Hanson also each added an assist.
Schwenn was the leading rusher. He carried 13 times for 111 yards, including the touchdown. Krause had 12 carries for a total of 19 yards, and Weber two for eight yards. After an injury earlier in the season, Marshall Voeltz was back on the field and had one carry.
The Bulldogs recorded a total of 182 yards — 174 rushing and 8 passing. The C-Hawks put up 167 total yards –100 rushing and 67 passing. Mibank was charged with three penalties for a loss of 42 yards. Canton finished with no penalties.
Coach Allmendinger remains cautiously optimistic as the Bulldogs prepare for the semi finals. “Vermillion is the No. 3 seed and a very good football team. We will have our work cut out for us again this week.”