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Seahawks take down Warriors

Winner's Matt Smither, right, is taken down by a host of Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan defenders on Thursday in Winner. BEE's Dustin Weber (7) and Lucas Berg (63) are pictured at front. (Ryan Deal / Republic)

WINNER—For the past two seasons, the road to the Class 11B state championship has gone through Winner.

On Thursday, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan kept its road to the DakotaDome alive with a win over the powerhouse Warriors.

The Seahawks topped the Warriors 18-8 in a cold and windy Class 11B quarterfinal slugfest in Winner. The Warriors have won the last two Class 11B state titles and had defeated the Seahawks in last year's semifinals on the same field.

"They have a great football team over here and this is a tough place to walk into and win a football game and we knew that coming in," BEE coach Jeff VanLeur said. "Then you take the weather—they had it too—but our kids never quit."

The Seahawks (8-2) took a 12-8 lead into halftime and blanked the Warriors in the second half to secure the quarterfinal win. BEE will play top-seeded Sioux Valley in the Class 11B semifinals next Friday.

"We made a couple of adjustments at halftime," VanLeur said. "We got settled down a little bit and our outside linebackers did a great job getting the sweep cut off there and the D-line took care of that dive up the middle. I think that's what won the game. We got them shut down a little bit and made a couple nice fourth-down stops and then got our offense feeding off that."

After a scoreless third quarter, the Seahawks added an insurance touchdown. Winner (7-3) turned the ball over on downs and Jamin Arend scored a three-yard touchdown to put BEE up 18-8 with with 4 minutes and 45 seconds left. The Seahawks forced another turnover on downs on the next Winner possession and BEE ran out the clock for the win.

"We just got it in our heads that we needed to step up," said Arend, who added 46 rushing yards, one interception and one forced fumble. "We started off bad. We started off worse than we wanted to and we got it in our heads that we need to step up and stop them."

Both teams were committed to running the ball as opposed to throwing into the teeth of the bone-chilling wind. The Warriors had 225 rushing yards and BEE had 195. The Seahawks, however, kept Winner off balance with a few big passing plays.

"We didn't really expect to pass that much tonight with this wind," said BEE senior Dustin Weber, who had a touchdown, 95 rushing yards and eight tackles. "But we were able to get it done. So that's pretty good."

BEE's Brady Hawkins threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Mason Potter to put the Seahawks ahead 12-8 with 5:42 left in the first half. Hawkins had 52 passing yards.

The Seahawks then kept Winner scoreless in the second half to secure the win. But Winner coach Dan Aaker pointed to moments in the first half that hurt the Warriors. Winner fumbled on its opening possession after a long drive and the Warriors had four turnovers, including three fumbles.

"I really thought we outplayed them in the first half," Aaker said. "Those three turnovers really hurt us and that's what I told them at halftime."

The Warriors could still not get going in the second half offensively. But Aaker still commended the effort and praised the group for the season.

"We really came a long ways and turned into a competitive football team down the stretch and I think we showed that tonight," Aaker said.

The attention for BEE now turns to the Cossacks. Sioux Valley defeated the Seahawks just two weeks ago 27-15 in Bridgewater, claiming the Big East Conference title and Class 11B No. 1 seed with the win.

"We didn't play our best game," Arend said. "We all know that and we know we need to step up big now."

BEE 6 6 0 6—18

W 0 8 0 0—8

Scoring summary

First quarter

BEE: Dustin Weber 67 run (run failed)

Second quarter

W: Carter Brickman 1 run (Ty Bolton run)

BEE: Mason Potter 6 pass from Brady Hawkins (run failed)

Fourth quarter

BEE: Arend 3 run (pass failed)