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West Central locks down Seahawks

HARTFORD--On West Central's homecoming night, there were fireworks, both on the field and in the air right from the start of the game. But once the Trojans gained control of the line of scrimmage, it was tough going for No. 4-ranked Bridgewater-E...

Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan's Jamin Arend (2) reaches out to stiff arm West Central's Broc Haldeman, left; during the second half of a prep football game Friday in Hartford. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan's Jamin Arend (2) reaches out to stiff arm West Central's Broc Haldeman, left; during the second half of a prep football game Friday in Hartford. (Marcus Traxler/Republic)

HARTFORD-On West Central's homecoming night, there were fireworks, both on the field and in the air right from the start of the game.

But once the Trojans gained control of the line of scrimmage, it was tough going for No. 4-ranked Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan on Friday night.

With a five-point lead, the Trojans defense buckled down, holding the Seahawks to just one yard of offense in the second half and locking down a 20-7 win in Hartford on Friday.

"They did a better job of executing right up front," said Seahawks coach Jeff VanLeur. "They took control of the line of scrimmage and they pounded on us a little bit."

The game started with a pair of quick strikes. After BEE (2-2) brought the opening kickoff back to their own 41, Jamin Arend broke off a 56-yard run before being forced out of bounds at the three-yard line. On the next play, fellow running back Cole Gassman plunged in for a three-yard touchdown run, putting the Seahawks up 7-0 with 22 seconds gone in the game.

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But on the ensuing kickoff, Devon Garry set his own tone for the night, running the kick back 96 yards for a touchdown to bring the Trojans to within 7-6 before a blocked extra point 40 seconds into the game.

From there, the game transitioned into a ball-control affair. Both teams dealt with first-half fumbles for turnovers but West Central took advantage. As the Seahawks seemed poised to run out the clock in the first half, a fumble was recovered by Brock Reese. Three plays later, Broc Haldeman, a sophomore making his first career start at quarterback, hit Garry for a short pass and Garry ran it in for a touchdown from 22 yards out with nine seconds left, as the Trojans took a 12-7 lead to halftime.

The Trojans marched 14 plays to start the second half and burned off more than seven minutes off the clock before turning the ball over on downs. BEE started the next drive on the Trojans' 32-yard-line and went three-and-out.

It was the best field position BEE would have in the second half. A nine-play drive in the middle of the fourth quarter led to a Garry 15-yard touchdown run, putting the Trojans up by two touchdowns and sealing the home win.

West Central, the holders of 12 all-time state championships, has weathered a tough start to the season. The Trojans (2-2) lost to Dakota Valley and reigning state champion Madison in the first three weeks, scoring just 20 points total in those games. They were without seven starters on Friday due to injury and with that in mind, the strategy was back to what West Central is known for: a strong running game.

"We knew if we could just get things going up front and settle in, we could have some success," said Trojans' coach Kent Mueller. "We got our running backs going and we played well. With the way things have been going this season, this one feels good."

The Trojans outgained BEE 226-111 for the game. Arend led the Seahawks in rushing, with 76 yards on 10 carries. Jacob Eddy had the big night on defense for the Seahawks, making 15 tackles. Garry finished the game with 213 total yards, including 83 rushing yards on 21 carries. Isaiah Ohayon had 95 yards rushing on 23 carries for West Central.

This was the second part of a home-and-home between the two perennial powers, the Trojans in Class 11A and the Seahawks in Class 11B. Like last year's 28-18 West Central win in Emery, the Trojans had a special teams touchdown and the contest was a one-score game most of the way.

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"I mean they're just a great team over there and they are just always so well prepared," Mueller said. "They're going to be tough for every team they face."

That next team? Class 11A undefeated Tea Area in Bridgewater on Friday. The Titans improved to 4-0 with a win over Dell Rapids 19-0. The Seahawks will be ready.

"Tonight's only going to make us better if we use it and learn from it," VanLeur said. "We can make ourselves better."

BEE 7 0 0 0-7

WC 6 6 0 8-20

Scoring summary

First quarter

BEE: Cole Gassman 3 run (Jesse Grosdidier kick)

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WC: Devon Garry 96 kickoff return (kick blocked)

Second quarter

WC: Garry 16 pass from Broc Haldeman (pass failed)

Fourth quarter

WC: Garry 15 run (Garry run)

Related Topics: BRIDGEWATEREMERYETHAN
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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