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Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan downs Beresford with game-winning touchdown pass

“It was a risk worth taking, but we had the matchup we wanted, and we wanted to take advantage of it. And I know Sutton can make big plays,” VanLeur said, as fans swarmed him on the field.

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Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan's Koby Kayser runs for a gain in a Class 11B semifinal high school playoff football game against Beresford on Friday night in Bridgewater. (Luke Hagen / Republic)

BRIDGEWATER -- Running the same play on back-to-back possessions with under three minutes left in the game was a risky call by Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan coach Jeff VanLeur, but it paid off Friday night.

As BEE trailed Beresford 21-20 with less than three minutes left in the game, quarterback Kaden Klumb connected on third down with Sutton Arend on a 38-yard pass to give the Seahawks a key first down. The Seahawks went with the same play on the next possession, only this time Klumb’s 29-yard pass to Arend resulted in a game-winning touchdown on Friday in Bridgewater, which sent the Seahawks back to the Class 11B championship game by a 28-21 margin.

The Seahawks (8-3) will play in a fifth-straight Class 11B title game facing No. 1 seeded Winner, a team they've played in the last two championship meetings. The game will be at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 12 in Vermillion.

“It was a risk worth taking, but we had the matchup we wanted, and we wanted to take advantage of it. And I know Sutton can make big plays,” VanLeur said, as fans swarmed him on the field. “We talk about making plays all time, and that’s what they did tonight.”

While the game-winning touchdown came on an aerial play, running back Koby Kayser knifed his way through the defense at will all night. Kayser found the endzone twice in the first half, helping build the Seahawks lead to 13-7 early on.

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The senior running back produced over 100 rushing yards in the Class 11B semifinal playoff matchup. Klumb capped off a big game under center, as the senior quarterback threw for over 200 yards on three touchdown passes.

"Koby never gives up, and can break through the defense so well," VanLeur said. "He was big for us tonight."

After Kayser marched down the field with about 6 minutes left in the second quarter, the senior running back found the end zone once again on an 3-yard run to build BEE’s lead to 20-7.

But Beresford quarterback Tate VanOtterloo’s passing continued to do damage to the Seahawks’ defense, helping the Watchdogs make a big drive down to the goal line with a minute left in the first half.

On third down with 15 seconds left in the half, VanOtterloo slipped through a couple tackles and found a wide open receiver in the corner of the end zone to pull the Watchdogs within one touchdown from BEE at 20-14. VanOtterloo threw for 141 yards to keep the Watchdogs in the game.

After a scoreless third-quarter, running back Peyton Fridrich capped a long drive with an 8-yard touchdown run that came late in the fourth quarter. The Watchdogs converted on the extra point to give Beresford the lead 21-20 with just 3 minutes left in the game to set up the drama.

While a penalty flag against the Seahawks pushed BEE back 12 yards, a poised Klumb delivered the back-to-back passes that gave them the lead with a over a minute left in the game. Although Beresford had an opportunity to make a last minute drive trailing 21-28, a Seahawk defensive back came up with a big interception to seal the win.

Despite suffering back-to-back losses mid-season -- including a 23-7 home loss to the same Watchdogs team on Oct. 1 -- VanLeur said his team found a way to persevere all season long. With Friday’s win, it was a prime example of the “never quit” attitude that BEE maintained this season.

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“We had an injury bug early, but our kids just fought through all year,” he said. “We lossed a couple games, but we learned from it. It just made us that much better."

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Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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