VOLGA – Abiah Plastow returned the opening kickoff 78 yards to the end zone and Jamin Arend scored three touchdowns as fifth-seeded Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan upended top-seeded Sioux Valley 35-7 in the semifinals of the Class 11B Football Playoffs on Friday night.
“It was a battle; it was a lot closer game than the final score,” said Seahawks coach Jeff VanLeur. “I think our kids right up front did a great job of adjusting to things.
“Defensively, I was proud of our kids. We bent quite a few times and we stopped a very strong offense. So I was very proud of us defensively, I thought we did a great job.”
Arend caught a long pass from Brady Hawkins – the team’s only completion on four attempts in the game – and took it 82 yards for a score later in the first. Plastow’s second of five successful PAT kicks pushed the margin to 14-0 midway through the opening period.
“I think they were huge,” VanLeur said of the big plays. “We came here to try to jump on them. They like to come out and jump on people right away and get you out of your game a little bit, and they did that to us the first game (a 27-15 Sioux Valley win on Oct. 13 in Bridgewater).
“We wanted to try to get back at them a little bit, just to push them a little bit and try to make them do something different. I thought those two big plays – the first kickoff return; and we executed well on that second pass play and Jamin did a nice job getting himself open – so those plays played big.”
The Seahawks limited the potent Cossack rushing attack to 182 yards on 47 attempts – Daymein Lucas picked up 89 yards on 23 carries and Tyler Schwartz added 39 on 10.
“They jumped on us from the get go; they played a great game,” said Sioux Valley coach Dan Hughes. “All the credit goes to them. They did a fantastic job.
“I’m extremely proud of our guys and, you know what, it is what it is.”
The Cossacks put together a drive that lasted nearly 8 minutes in the second quarter; however, Noah Puetz was intercepted by Brady Hawkins on a fourth-and-3 play from the BEE 9-yard-line.
The Sioux Valley defense forced a three-and-out and the offense got going just before halftime.
Schwartz capped a short drive with a 32-yard catch-and-run to paydirt from Puetz. Brennan Stol- tenberg’s PAT kick cut the deficit in half – 14-7 – with 53.6 seconds showing on the clock.
The Seahawks came up with a key stop after the break and Arend’s 1-yard TD plunge made it 21-7 at the 4:30 mark of the third stanza.
Later, BEE pinned Sioux Valley at the 4 following a long punt, and Carter Dye recovered a fumble at the 2 on the next play. Arend found paydirt soon thereafter as the visitors opened up a 28-7 advantage with 11:44 remaining in the game.
The Seahawks ate up nearly 7 minutes of game time on their next possession, which ended with Dustin Weber’s 2-yard touchdown rush that provided for the final margin.
Arend finished with 98 yards on the ground. BEE totaled 134 yards on 39 rushes.
Bradlee Schultz had 12 tackles, Zack Leithieser nine, Weber eight, and Lucas Berg and Dye seven apiece.
Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan (9-2) takes on No. 2 Sioux Falls Christian (10-1) – a 21-7 winner over No. 3 Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/ Sanborn Central (9-2) in the other semifinal – in the Class 11B final Friday at 1 p.m. at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
Sioux Valley finished the year with a 10-1 record, just missing its first title game appearance since bringing home the 11B championship in 1988.
“It was a fantastic season; one game doesn’t make a season,” noted Hughes, whose team also had a home semifinal game in 2015. “But these guys – they took a program that was all but winless and they made them into a state title contender. And they did it in a short amount of time.
“I’m very, very proud of them; they’re very, very special people that are destined to do great things.”
Puetz went 3-of-11 for 37 yards with a TD and a pick, as his team attempted 12 passes.
Stoltenberg made nine tackles. Brayden Havrevold, Jake Schneider and Chase Ringheimer each added seven stops, and Schwartz notched six.