Red Dog goofs lead to Rider victory
If the Rapid City Red Dogs were any more self-destructive they'd require an intervention.
On Sunday, the Red Dogs outgained the Bismarck Roughriders, just as they have every opponent they've faced this season. But the Roughriders were more than happy to take advantage as Rapid City was undone by the usual assortment of turnovers, penalties and lousy coverage in a 29-20 Bismarck victory.
"Our quarterback fumbled the snap, what four times?" Rapid City coach Dan Maciejczak fumed. "And we lead the league in (dumb) penalties."
For the record, Rapid City did fumble four times -- although they were credited with two -- and committed nine penalties for 49 yards. They also allowed A.J. Street to return two kickoffs for touchdowns, although one was called back for an illegal block. Street's was the sixth kick return for a TD Rapid City (2-4) has allowed this season.
The Roughriders (3-2) had a hand in causing some of Rapid City's misfortune, and had to overcome three turnovers and 10 penalties (for 78 yards) of its own.
"If it weren't for all our dumb penalties this could have been a blowout," Bismarck coach Collins Sanders said.
Instead it was two mistake-prone teams trying to stay out of their own way, and for the second time in three weeks, Bismarck did a better job of that than the Red Dogs.
Bismarck's defensive line was awesome early, piling up three sacks in the first quarter alone, although one was wiped out by a facemask penalty.
One of those sacks, credited to Anthony Bonner and Ryan Slabaugh, led to a fumble recovery by Robert Gaines.
"We made their quarterback look a little nervous," Bonner said.
Bismarck took advantage of the turnover, scoring on a 5-yard swing pass from Jason Baliko to Quentin Cradle.
Rapid City adjusted to a shorter passing game that helped nullify Bismarck's rush the rest of the way. It also didn't hurt that Gaines, battling sickness and injury, missed much of the game. Most often his replacement starting offensive tackle Jamie Grismer.
The teams traded field goals before Jesse Dymon Adams broke off a 35-yard touchdown run that brought the Red Dogs to within 13-10 with 6:44 left in the half.
Bonner avenged that score by swallowing up Dymon Adams for a safety on the next series, but Aaron Turner booted a field goal right before intermission that left Bismarck clinging to a precarious 15-13 lead.
The former University of Mary wideout had a 40-yard touchdown return that sealed Bismarck's 48-38 win in Rapid City two weeks ago. Then in the first half of Sunday's game he took one kick all the way back, only to have it wiped out by a penalty, and returned another kick 32 yards.
With the passing game struggling again, Street felt the need to deliver another big play.
"Coach said he wanted me to get one back to the 15-yard line," Street said. "I thought I could do better than that."
Rapid City answered Street's score with a 28-yard touchdown pass from Jason Murdock to Casey Veenhoff, cutting the gap to 22-20.
Bismarck's defense would not allow another point: Bonner recovered a fumble on the next series, then Turner missed a pair of field goals and Rapid City's final series ended with a fumble on a fourth-down play.
The passing game, ineffective again (78 yards) due in no small part to several drops, came through when necessary. Baliko connected on a 30-yard swing pass to Cradle, setting up a 12-yard touchdown pass to Verna Owens.
Neither team could afford a loss with division leaders Billings and Sioux Falls sporting 5-1 records. It wasn't pretty, but for the third time in the last four weeks Bismarck found a way to get the job done.
"I wouldn't say it's a relief, but with our backs against the wall, the guys responded," Sanders said.
Rapid City 0 13 7 0 -- 20
Bismarck 7 8 7 7 -- 29
B -- Quentin Cradle 5 pass from Jason Baliko (Tyson Niewoehner kick), 9:21.
B -- Niewoehner 36 FG, 14:29.
RC -- Aaron Turner 17 FG, 10:31.
B -- Niewoehner 43 FG, 7:18.
RC -- Jesse Dymon Adams 35 run (Turner kick), 6:44.
B -- Anthony Bonner safety, 1:43.
RC -- Turner 29 FG, :01.
B -- A.J. Street 52 kickoff return (Niewoehner kick), 14:47.
RC -- Casey Veenhoff 28 pass from Jason Murdock (Turner kick), 12:08.
B -- Verna Owens 12 pass from Jason Baliko (Niewoehner kick), 11:20.
First downs 13 8
Rushes-yards 17-62 34-95
Passing yards 136 72
Passing 17-23-0 6-15-2
Fumbles-lost 3-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 9-49 10-78
Rushing: RC -- Jesse Dymon Adams 11-63, Jason Murdock 6-(minus-1). B -- Quentin Cradle 20-71, Verna Owens 9-22, Jason Baliko 5-2.
Passing: RC -- Murdock 17-23-0, 147 yards; team 0-0-0, 11 yards. B -- Baliko 6-15-2, 79 yards;
Receiving: RC -- Antonio Conley 7-36, Casey Veenhoff 4-56, Brian Mills 3-36, Dymon Adams 3-19. B -- Cradle 4-53, A.J. Street 1-14, Owens 1-12.
Interceptions: RC -- Jason McCleary 1-3, Jonny Crawford, 1-11. B -- None.
Sacks: RC -- Andrae Rowe 1. B -- Anthony Bonner 1, Robert Gaines1Ž2, Ryan Slabaugh1Ž2.
Records: Rapid City 2-4, Bismarck 3-2.
W L PF PA
Sioux Falls 5 1 266 168
Billings 5 1 279 211
ROUGHRIDERS 2 2 159 212
Rapid City 2 4 243 247
Wyoming 0 5 154 234
W L PF PA
Sioux City 4 0 194 82
Lincoln 3 1 193 151
Omaha 3 1 154 143
Tri-City 2 3 188 191
La Crosse 0 4 83 199
W L PF PA
Louisiana 2 1 143 130
Tupelo 1 2 54 75
Mississippi 1 2 90 93
W L PF PA
Ohio Valley 3 0 158 90
Tennessee 2 2 164 173
Winston-Salem 2 2 203 150
River City 0 4 71 209
W L PF PA
Lake Charles 4 0 166 101
Austin 1 3 135 182
Houma 1 3 176 176
Oklahoma 1 4 96 196
Sioux Falls 48, Tri-City 34
Billings 34, Wyoming 27
Sioux City 29, Oklahoma 25
Lake Charles 30, Austin 26
Winston-Salem 63, River City 8
Omaha 61, Lincoln 39
Houma 44, Tupelo 24
Ohio Valley 49, Tennessee 36
ROUGHRIDERS 29, Rapid City 20