Defense ignites Roughriders' rally for win

06/02/02 Bismarck Tribune
The much-maligned Bismarck defense came to the rescue Saturday, holding the Rapid City offense scoreless over the last 20 minutes to rally the Roughriders to a 66-58 victory over the Rapid City Red Dogs in a National Indoor Football League game.

The fourth quarter shutout was the first time Bismarck had held an opponent scoreless for a full quarter since blanking Rapid City in the fourth quarter of a 29-20 win on April 21.

The Roughriders, who are 8-2 despite being outscored 508-502 in 10 games this season, needed the whitewashing thanks to a series of blunders on offense and special teams that buried the Roughriders in a 58-42 hole. The defense -- one of the worst statistically in the NIFL -- dug the team out and sent it on its way to a sixth straight win.

The win eliminated the Red Dogs (5-6) from postseason contention and left the Roughriders in a tie with Billings for the Pacific West Division lead pending the outcome of Saturday's game against Sioux Falls.

Leading 42-31 at halftime, the Roughriders watched their lead evaporate quickly.

Three straight running plays to open the second half closed the gap to 42-37 on Tom Skoog's 2-yard run. Two plays later Andre Rowe knocked the ball from quarterback Danny Ragsdale and Percy Scott recovered in the end zone for a 44-42 Red Dogs lead.

And they weren't done.

On the ensuing kickoff, A.J. Street fumbled and Eric Rice ran it in for a 51-42 lead. Then, with 6:31 left in the third, Ryan Speed hauled in a 14-yard TD pass from Jason Murdock to make it 58-42.

The Roughriders had seen enough. Rapid City was not only held without points on its last five possessions, but one possession ended with a safety that shifted the Roughriders' comeback into high gear.

A.J. Street played a key role in the rally, which started late in the third quarter on Quentin Cradle's 9-yard scoring run.

Early in the fourth quarter, the defense came up with a big stop, then blocked a field goal attempt through the end zone for a safety. On the following kickoff Street ran 53 yards for a TD to put the Roughriders up 59-58.

After another defensive stop, Street caught a 23-yard scoring pass from Ragsdale (his seventh of the night which tied for the league best in a single game).

Ragsdale completed 18 of 24 passes for 238 yards. Street caught seven passes for 114 yards.

After a relatively quiet first quarter that ended with Bismarck leading 14-7, the teams combined for 52 points in the second. The Roughriders accounted for 28 of those, and the porous Roughrider defense surrendered 24.

Bismarck's first four scoring possessions took three, one, two and three plays. The positive was 28 points, the negative was that it put the Red Dogs offense and the Roughriders defense back on the field.

Jason Murdock, who completed 19 of 33 passes for 191 yards, tossed scoring strikes to Brian Mills (5 yards) and Ryan Speed (2 and 10 yards) to keep the Dogs in the game.

Despite rushing just once for minus-7 yards -- that a sack of Ragsdale by Rob Carroll by Rob Carroll -- The Roughriders took 14-7 lead after one quarter thanks to TD passes to Cradle (8 yards) and Jacques Hogan (42 yards).

Ragsdale threw six scoring strikes in the first half, including four in the second quarter to Duane Monlux (two of 6 yards each), Street (27 yards) and Cradle (3 yards).

Bismarck 14 28 27 16 -- 66

Rapid City 7 24 8 0 -- 58

Individual Scoring

First Quarter

Bismarck: Quentin Cradle 8 pass from Danny Ragsdale (Tyson Niewoehner kick), 6:59.

Rapid City: Tom Skoog 6 pass from Jason Murdock (Aaron Turner kick), 2:50.

Bismarck: Jacques Hogan 42 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), 2:29.

Second Quarter

Rapid City: Turner 27 field goal, 14:25.

Bismarck: Duane Monlux 6 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), 13:19.

Rapid City: Brian Mills 5 pass from Murdock (Turner kick), 10:04.

Bismarck: A.J. Street 27 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), 8:33.

Rapid City: Ryan Speed 2 pass from Murdock (Turner kick), 4:38.

Bismarck: Cradle 3 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), :46.

Rapid City: Speed 10 pass from Murdock (Turner kick), :34.

Bismarck: Monlux 6 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), :04.

Third Quarter

Rapid City: Tom Skoog 2 run (kick failed), 13:12.

Rapid City: Percy Scott fumble recovery in end zone (Turner kick), 11:50.

Rapid City: Eric Rice fumble return on kickoff (Turner kick), 11:32.

Rapid City: Speed 14 pass from Murdock (Turner kick), 6:31.

Bismarck: Cradle 9 run (Cradle pass from Ragsdale), 1:52.

Fourth Quarter

Bismarck: Safety, field goal attempt blocked out of end zone, 14:52.

Bismarck: Street 53 kickoff return (Niewoehner kick), 14:37.

Bismarck: Street 23 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), 6:50.

Team Statistics

Bismarck Rapid City

First downs 12 14

Rushes-yards 18-65 19-31

Yards passing 238 191

Passing 18-24-0 19-33-0

Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-0

Penalties-yards 8-56 6-30

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Bismarck -- Danny Ragsdale 10-40. Quentin Cradle 8-25. Rapid City -- Jason Murdock 5-(minus 18). Brian Mills 1-1. Ryan Speed 1-0. Jesse Adams 2-2. Tom Skoog 10-46.

Passing: Bismarck -- Ragsdale 18-24-0, 238 yards. Rapid City -- Murdock 19-33-0, 191 yards.

Receiving: Bismarck -- A.J. Street 7-114. Duane Monlux 2-10. Cradle 6-47. Jacques Hogan 3-67. Rapid City -- Mills 4-60. Speed 6-54. Skoog 3-28. Casey Veenhoff 6-49.

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