COLOME-Fireworks could be seen from Fetzner Field as Colome players, fans and family mobbed each other following the Cowboys' 74-28 win over Wall to advance to the Class 9B state championship game.
But the Cowboys' offense provided plenty of fireworks before the clock hit triple zeros.
"It feels good," Colome head coach Ben Connot said. "After losing last year in the semis, we were just talking about this is something we wanted to do. We had a chip on our shoulder, and it's paid off. We put a lot of work in, and it's a good feeling."
It's the second time in three years the Cowboys will play in the DakotaDome, with a date with Sully Buttes set for 10 a.m. Friday, with both teams undefeated at 11-0.
The Cowboys used strong blocking to break off multiple big plays and put up 46 first-half points, but Layton Theiman still said the Cowboys' offense started slow.
"Honestly, that's how we usually come out," Theiman said. "We're slow in the first half, then we come out in the second half and things start clicking for us. ... I still think we can be better (in the first half)."
Colome didn't start slow in the second half, thanks to a couple of big plays from Theiman. The senior wide receiver ran for a 30-yard touchdown to cap Colome's first offensive possession of the half, then intercepted Wall quarterback Jacob Bielmaier on the ensuing possession. Chase Dufek proceeded to score a 24-yard touchdown to give the Cowboys a 60-22 lead.
Dufek and quarterback Jackson Kinzer would rush for touchdowns of 40 and 15 yards, respectively, before the game was over, resulting in a 74-point outburst despite there being a running clock for most of the second half.
"Our line worked real hard," Kinzer said. "They made their blocks and we just ran through them."
Wall (10-1) had its chances to stay with the Cowboys, though, as it used its speed throughout the game to get behind Colome's secondary, especially in the first half.
"We knew if we wanted to stick with Wall, and how good of an offensive team they are, we were going to force them to take shots," Connot said.
While Tack Tines caught a 76-yard touchdown in the first quarter, Wall's passing game consisted of drops and overthrows on would-be touchdowns.
Theiman, who also plays defensive back, said the Cowboys started to play off Wall receivers more in the second half to accommodate for the Eagles' speed, while Connot added that Colome pushed its free safety back.
Wall also forced a three-and-out on Colome's first offensive possession, but it started with two three-and-outs itself. Then, the Cowboys' offense started to click.
It attacked through the air and on the ground, resulting in five-straight touchdown drives in the first half and a big day for Kinzer. He finished with six total touchdowns-four rushing and two passing-as he connected with both Theiman (45-yard touchdown) and Beau Bertram (19 yards) for scores in the first half.
"There's so many people (for us) who can do so many things," Theiman said. "You just never know what's going to come, what play we're going to run or whose going to get the ball."
Although, even when Colome failed to score, it worked out well. On the possession following Colome's second punt of the game, Bielmaier threw an interception to Jaikob Week, who returned it 42 yards to the house near the end of the first half, extending Colome's lead, 46-22.
Dufek ran for 177 yards and two scores, while Kinzer ran for 161 yards. Theiman tallied 76 yards on three catches. Kinzer also completed 7 of 10 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Beau Bertram also finished with 46 receiving yards. Wyatt Cahoy racked up 10 tackles for Colome, and Bertram added six.
For Wall, Jacob Bielmaier completed five passes for 111 yards and a score, while Cooper McConaghy tallied 96 rushing yards and a touchdown. Tack Tines racked up 124 yards and scored two touchdowns. Bielmaier and Bridger Amiotte finished with six tackles apiece.
Colome won the 2016 Class 9B championship, with a chance to do it again in less than a week.
"It's just unbelievable," Theiman said on making the championship game. "A lot of people didn't think we'd be able to make it back. It's just nice to prove them wrong."
C: Layton Thieman 45 pass from Jackson Kinzer (Chase Dufek run)
W: Cooper McConaghy 47 run (Cash Wilson pass from Blair Blasius)
C: Kinzer 1 run (Kinzer run)
C: Kinzer 6 run (Calvin Ringing Shield pass from Kinzer)
W: Tack Tines 76 pass from Jacob Bielmaier (Bradan McDonnell run failed)
C: Beau Bertram 19 pass from Kinzer (Bertram run failed)
C: Kinzer 35 run (Dufek run)
W: Bradan McDonnell 1 run (McDonnell run)
C: Jaikob Week interception return (Dufek run)
C: Thieman 29 run (Kinzer run)
C: Dufek 24 run (Bertram run failed)
W: Tines 48 pass from McConaghy (Bielmaier pass failed)
C: Kinzer 15 run (Week run failed)
C: Dufek 40 run (Kinzer run)