Riders claim a wild victory

05/20/02 Bismarck Tribune
Chalk up another one for the new avenger.

Bismarck quarterback Danny Ragsdale took his aerial circus to South Dakota on Saturday and led the Roughriders to a 65-58 National Indoor Football League victory over the Sioux Falls Storm.

The victory, the fourth in a row by the Roughriders and the second straight over the two teams ahead of them in the Pacific West Division (both on the road), placed Bismarck smack dab at the top of the division standings with a 6-2 record. Sioux Falls dropped to 6-3, while Billings beat Omaha to improve to 7-2.

Ragsdale, who now has helped the Roughriders avenge both of their losses, completed 25 of 33 passes for 287 yards and six touchdowns. It took less than eight minutes for Bismarck to match its total scoring output of the first meeting between the two teams, a 48-20 Storm victory at the Bismarck Civic Center.

But it took a 1-yard scoring run by bruising running back Quentin Cradle with just under 15 seconds to play to rally the Roughriders to the win.

Sioux Falls had taken its only lead of the game, 58-57, on David Ruter's 7-yard scoring run and his two-point conversion run with 45 seconds to play. It was the fifth straight possession on which the Storm had scored and it followed an anemic first half that produced just two first downs and a 36-22 deficit.

After losing the lead, the Roughriders marched from their own 20 into the end zone in four plays. Ragsdale then hit A.J. Street for the two-point conversion.

Sioux Falls' bid to stay unbeaten at home ended when Ryan Aulenbacher's pass fell incomplete out of the end zone as time ran out.

Dickinson State baseball coach and sports information director Duane Monlux was on the receiving end of four Ragsdale touchdown passes (36, 1, 9 and 14 yards). He had seven catches for 106 yards.

Cradle, who carried 13 times for 35 yards, also hauled in nine passes for 84 yards. He had a 4-yard scoring run in the third quarter that stretched the Roughriders' lead to 43-22.

Defensive back Kyle Sires got things started when he picked off an Aulenbacher pass and returned it for a touchdown with 12:37 left in the first quarter. It also ignited a scoring burst that included a 36-yard TD pass from Aulenbacher to Josh Buckholtz (12:00); a 36-yard TD pass from Ragsdale to Monlux (11:19); and a 4-yard pass from Ragsdale to Street (6:32).

The scoring slowed somewhat in the second quarter. Bismarck's defensive front put pressure on Aulenbacher and held the Storm's running game to minus-12 yards rushing in the first half. Sioux Falls' only earned first down of the half came on the TD pass to Buckholtz. It also picked up one first down by penalty. To make matters worse, kicker Nate Krull missed a PAT and three field goals in the first two quarters.

On the other hand, Ragsdale and Cradle moved the Roughriders up and down the field, piling up 218 yards of offense and taking a 36-22 lead at the break. Bismarck had 90 yards of total offense in the first meeting.

The Roughriders' 21-point third-quarter lead evaporated quickly as Aulenbacher threw a TD pass to Jessie Haines and two more to Ruter to get within a touchdown of the lead. When Bismarck's next possession ended with a net gain of minus-1 yard, Tyson Niewoehner was brought on to try a field goal that would have clinched the game, but his kick sailed wide right.

Four plays later Sioux Falls took its first lead of the night.

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