The Milbank Bulldogs got their teeth in the Vermillion Tanagers and the feathers flew in a stunning 24-0 defeat in the football semi finals at the DakotaDome on Friday, November 5. With the win, Milbank earned the right to return to the Dome for the 11A state championship game on Friday, November 12.
It’s going to be Milbank against No. 1 Madison (11-0) in the ultimate Battle of the Bulldogs at 2 p.m. Milbank, riding a wave of recent victories, seeks to avenge their earlier loss this season to top-seeded and top-rated Madison.
The Milbank School District has canceled school on Friday to encourage fans to attend.
Milbank proved they were ready to rumble when they took the field in Vermillion. If fans experienced dèjá vu from the game against second-seeded Canton the week before, they weren’t complaining. The Bulldogs defense was brilliant in each game and held both teams scoreless. When the defense created opportunities, the offense capitalized on them.
On the opening kickoff, Garrett Mertens recovered a Vermillion fumble in Tanagers’ territory to start the crowd roaring. But, Bulldog fans groaned when Milbank was nicked with a penalty to set them back.
The offense, however, stayed alert and plugged away. On the fourth down, Krause completed a 29-yard pass to Karson Weber to get the Bulldogs to the 5-yard line. On the next play, Krause carried it across the line for the touchdown and the first six points for the Dawgs.
The Bulldogs intended to go for one extra point, but the Tanagers were flagged for running into the kicker, and the Dawgs switched strategies. On their second try, Ryker Trevett ran it in for two points to give the Bulldogs the lead at 8-0.
Vermillion was wounded, but it was still early. The Tanagers worked the ball down field until they could almost taste a touchdown at the seven-yard line. Under constant pressure from the Bulldogs’ defense, Vermillion’s quarterback, Jack Kratz, fumbled. Milbank’s quarterback, Krause, recovered.
The Bulldogs again used the Tanager’s mistake to move the chains through Bulldog country. Krause eyed his chance and ran it in from 10 yards to put the Bulldogs up by 14 at the end of the half.
In the second half, the defense prevailed. Connor Bender ransacked a Tanager pass to thwart Vermillion’s hopes of scoring and send the Bulldogs’ offense back on the field. Krause killed some time getting down the field and then connected with junior Sawyer Gauer on a fourth-down pass for 11-yards and the score. Bennett Schwenn booted in the kick to take the score to 21-0.
In the final quarter, the Bulldogs got within striking distance at the 21-yard line. Schwenn again lined up and put it between the posts to give Milbank three more points and some breathing room at 4:41. As the clock ran down and the score still sat at 24-0, the Tanagers found themselves up a tree. The Bulldogs found themselves making plans for the championship game.
The Bulldogs chalked up 209 total yards of offense — 170 yards rushing and 39 yards passing. Krause had 17 carries for 66 yards. He was also four for four passing for 39 yards, including one touchdown. Schwenn carried the ball eight times for 59 yards, and Marshall Voeltz toted it 32 yards on six hauls. Weber was the Bulldogs’ leading receiver with two receptions to his credit for 32 yards.
The defense shared the wealth. Weber had six tackles and an assist. Schwenn made five. Bender and Leyton Raffety each had five solo tackles and an assist. Maddox Hanson had four and two assists. Gauer and Evan Hausauer each had two. Hausauer added two assists. Krause, Jace Rufer, junior Eli Johnson, and Stevie Ash each had a solo, and Rufer and E. Johnson added two assists.
Vermillion finished with 166 yards of offense, including 112 passing and 54 on the ground. The Tanagers lost two fumbles and threw one interception. They also lost 33 yards on four penalties.
State Championship Match-Ups
Thursday, November 11
Class 9B — No. 5 Dell Rapids St. Mary (8-3) vs. No. 3 Potter County (10-2), 10 a.m.
Class 9A — No. 1 Herreid/Selby Area (12-0) vs. No. 2 Howard (11-0), 1 p.m.
Class 9AA — No. 9 Platte-Geddes (9-2) vs. No. 11 Canistota/Freeman (7-4), 7:30 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 12
Class 11B — No. 1 Winner (10-0) vs. No. 7 Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (8-3), 10 a.m.
Class 11A — No. 7 Milbank Area (8-3) vs. No. 1 Madison (11-0), 2 p.m.
Class 11AA — No. 3 Pierre (9-2) vs. No. 1 Tea Area (11-0), 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 13
Class 11AAA — No. 1 Harrisburg (11-0) vs. No. 2 Brandon Valley (10-1), 7:30 p.m.