Roughriders rock Outlaws

06/09/02 Bismarck Tribune
Last week the Bismarck Roughriders defense came through in the clutch, shutting out Rapid City in the fourth quarter. But in Saturday's battle for Pacific Conference supremacy with the Billings Outlaws, the Riders 'D' really made its stand.

The Riders showed a stiff spine with their best goal line stand ever, a series that helped spark Bismarck to an early 34-7 lead. Then the defense forced three turnovers, two in the fourth quarter, to help spur the Roughriders to a 67-52 win.

It was the seventh consecutive victory for Bismarck (9-2), which took sole possession of the conference's best record from Billings (8-3).

"What we've done is put a bigger target on our chest," Bismarck coach Collins Sanders said. "We may in the driver's seat, but now everybody is gunning for us."

After trading scores on the first three possessions of the game -- two TD passes by Danny Ragsdale, one by Albert Higgs -- the Roughriders defense took center stage.

The Outlaws marched the ball down to the 1-yard line, and thanks to an obvious pass interference call, had five cracks at the end zone from there. They were turned away each time. Linebacker Danielle Rollins-Kendell came up especially big, twice stuffing Billings running back Jaquwan Brackenridge.

"Danielle is a solid player," Sanders said. "I don't why Danielle isn't playing on another level. He just makes play after play after play and keeps his mouth shut."

Rollins-Kendell pointed out how dependent he was on his teammates to make the big play.

"The defensive line was awesome," Rollins-Kendell said. "... And I owe all my success to (teammate) Herschel McCurn. When we're out there we know exactly what the other is going to do."

Already disappointed to be settling for three points, the Outlaws didn't even get that when Brandon Schillinger missed a 19-yard field goal.

The stand clearly stoked Bismarck's much-maligned defense, which followed it with two more stops, including a pick by Stacy Edwards.

Just a little bit of help was all Ragsdale needed, because Billings couldn't stop him in the first half. The star quarterback shredded the Billings defense for six TDs and 185 yards by halftime. He finished 18-for-25 with 242 yards.

Although Quentin Cradle rushed for just 20 yards, he was still a force for the Roughriders, catching six balls for 99 yards.

After falling behind 34-7, Billings got some hope when it sandwiched a pair of touchdowns -- a 6-yard pass from Higgs to James Owens and a 1-yard sneak by Higgs -- around a Tyson Niewoehner field goal. Those scores cut the gap to 37-20 with 14.8 seconds left in the half.

Ragsdale answered with a 25-yard score to Duane Monlux on the next play. Though the Outlaws did manage a field goal as time ran out, Bismarck was comfortably ahead 44-23 at halftime.

But Billings wouldn't cede such an important game so easily. The Outlaws scored on their first two possessions of the second half. While Bismarck answered the first with a 1-yard Cradle TD run, on the second Ragsdale was picked off by Fontez Jefferson.

Higgs engineered another quick scoring drive for Billings. The touchdown came off a pass that was deflected by Brackenridge right to teammate Jason Quinn. Suddenly Billings was within 50-44 with a whole quarter left to play.

After holding the Riders to a field goal on their next possession, Billings clearly had taken the momentum. Rollins-Kendall remedied that. On the first play of the Outlaws' next drive, Anthony Bonner stripped Higgs and after trying to scoop it up, Rollins-Kendell finally fell on the loose ball at the Billings 10.

"I tried to pick it up at first, but when you're playing football a few seconds could seem like hours," Rollins-Kendell said with a laugh.

Two plays later A.J. Street ran one in from 3 yards out, and Bismarck's lead was 60-44.

Higgs, who matched Ragsdale with 241 yards passing, kept his team in it with his sixth touchdown pass. On a fourth-and-15, Higgs threw a 16-yard scoring strike to Bryan Meier, then hit Cory Grow for the two-point conversion, making it 60-52 with six minutes remaining.

Street took the ensuing kick back for a touchdown but it was negated by an illegal block. Five plays later Street was in the end zone anyway, taking a sweep around right end for an 8-yard TD. That gave the Riders a 67-52 cushion with 1:54 left.

That was a lot of time for the Billings offense, but Jerry Jones made a crucial interception for Bismarck with 1:01 to play, sealing the victory.

Although Bismarck has the upper hand now, having won two out of three from Billings and with a better division record (7-2 to 5-3). But the Outlaws are back in town in two weeks for a rematch that could determine who has homefield throughout the playoffs.

"Next time we just have to come in and play for four quarters," Billings coach Joe Curtiss said.

* NOTES: Street took a scary looking hit over the end boards late in the fourth quarter, but returned to rush for two touchdowns and run back a kick, although the latter was nullified by a penalty.

Billings 7 16 21 8 -- 52

Bismarck 14 30 6 17 -- 67

First Quarter

Bis -- A.J. Street 18 pass from Danny Ragsdale (Tyson Niewoehner kick), 13:35.

Bil -- Cory Grow 5 pass from Albert Higgs (Brandon Schillinger kick), 9:32.

Bis -- Quentin Cradle 20 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), 8:45.

Second Quarter

Bis -- Duane Monlux 4 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), 12:39.

Bis -- Cradle 43 pass from Ragsdale (run failed), 11:26.

Bis -- Street 8 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), 5:12.

Bil -- James Owens 6 pass from Higgs (Schillinger kick), 3:43.

Bis -- Niewoehner 28 FG, 1:06.

Bil -- Higgs 1 run (kick failed), :14.

Bis -- Monlux 25 pass from Ragsdale (Niewoehner kick), :10.

Bil -- Schillinger 34 FG, :00.

Third Quarter

Bil -- Grow 14 pass from Higgs (Schillinger kick), 12:34.

Bis -- Cradle 1 run (kick failed), 9:25.

Bil -- Robert Hampton 15 pass from Higgs (Schillinger kick), 6:18.

Bil -- Jason Quinn 9 pass from Higgs (Schillinger kick), 1:29.

Fourth Quarter

Bis -- Niewoehner 39 FG, 11:37.

Bis -- Street 3 run (Niewoehner kick), 10:18.

Bil -- Bryan Meier 16 pass from Higgs (Grow pass from Higgs), 6:00.

Bis -- Street 8 run (Niewoehner kick), 1:54.

Team Statistics

Bil Bis

First downs 22 17

Rushing-yards 8-48 21-65

Passing yards 237 235

Passing 28-44-2 18-25-1

Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0

Penalties-yards 6-39 9-37

Possession 29:25 30:35

Sacks by-yards 1-7 2-9

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Billings-- Albert Higgs 5-44, Jaquwan Brackenridge 3-4. Bismarck-- Danny Ragsdale 6-34, Quentin Cradle 13-20, A.J. Street 2-11.

Passing: Billings-- Higgs 28-44-2, 241 yards. Team 0-0-0, (minus-4). Bismarck-- Ragsdale 18-25-1, 242 yards. Team 0-0-0, (minus-7).

Receiving: Billings-- Jason Quinn 6-47, James Owens 5-44, Brackenridge 5-43, Cory Grow 5-35, Robert Hampton 4-30, Bryan Meier 3-42. Bismarck-- Cradle 6-99, Street 5-52, Jacques Hogan 4-41, Duane Monlux 3-50.

Interceptions: Billings-- Fontez Jefferson 1-7. Bismarck-- Jerry Jones 1-41, Stacy Edwards 1-0.

A: 3,354.

Records: Billings 8-3, Bismarck 9-2.

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