In the Bulldogs’ last game of the season on October 19 in Hartford, the first minute of the game was the best minute of the game. West Central (7-1) won the toss and deferred to Milbank. Owen Tesch fielded the return and got it out to the Bulldogs’ own 35- yard line. Garrett Mertens then caught the snap and faked a hand off. Instead, the senior quarterback turned on the jets and bolted down the field on a 65-yard hike outside the numbers to take it to the house! The kick by Moises Luna was spot on. After the first play of the game, Milbank was ahead 7-zip.
The Trojans – like their ancient namesakes– seemed shocked by the Bulldogs’ sneak attack, but it didn’t take them long to recover. In the second play of the game, with only 27 seconds elapsed on the clock, West Central’s Karsen Wilde went on an 83-yard expedition to claim a Trojan touchdown. Their extra point-kick was also good to knot the score at 7-7. Less than a minute had burned.
West Central struck again at 7:13 in the first quarter. Chet Carda made a 19-yard run into the endzone. It was followed by a one-point kick, and the Trojan’s took the lead at 14-7.
The Bulldogs couldn’t rustle up a reply on their next possession and were forced to punt. The snap was high, but Layten Osowski managed to pull it down. He sent it sailing and with the help of a little roll, it stopped at the Trojan 11-yard line – a beauty of a punt at 75 yards. West Central kept the sticks moving until Caden Alfson passed to Trevin Price for a 32-yard TD. The extra point kick put the score at 21-7.
With three minutes left in the first quarter, Carda went on a 73-yard trip to put up another TD for West Central. A successful PAT moved the score to 28-7. With 53 seconds to go in the first, Trojan Leyton Johnson secured another TD for West Central, and the score ballooned to 35-7.
In the second quarter with 11:08 on the ticker, West Central collected another touchdown and extra point kick to pad their lead at 42-7. The Bulldogs offense got fired up again when Emmett Hanson caught a pass by Mertens at the 18 yard-line on third and three. Mertens got the first down on a quarterback keeper to get the ball to the 14-yard line. Tesch moved it to the 10, and Jayden Johnson got it to the five. On third and three, Mertens handed off to J. Johnson and J. Johnson bulldozed his way across the line. The kick failed, but the Bulldogs had fought back. They trailed at 42-13.
With little time remaining in the half, the Trojans were charged with a false start and were slapped with a penalty, but West Central turned it around and put up another TD to move the score to 48-13. They opted to run for two and successfully added those points to their total to end the first half at 50-13.
The third quarter was Milbank’s Waterloo. The clock kept running due to the Mercy Rule and West Central showed no mercy. The Trojans added two more touchdowns to their total to abruptly end the game at 64-13.
The Bulldogs put up 183 yards. Mertens went two of nine for 23 yards passing and 73 yards rushing. Bowsher collected 24 yards rushing, J. Johnson had 10; and Ethan Owen had one. Hanson had two receptions to lead Milbank. He also claimed two tackles. Owen pulled down four tackles. Bowsher, Abrego, and Osowski each flattened one.
West Central piled up 567 total yards. Carda had 108 yards rushing. Wilde had 87. Caden Alfson had 28 rushing and 32 passing. The Trojans recorded 17 first downs to MIlbank’s eight. West Central committed eight infractions of the rules. Milbank received two penalties.
The state football championships for all classes will be held November 9-11 at the DakotaDome on the University of South Dakota campus in Vermillion.