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Dominant defense lifts Ballard in district opener

Ballard linebacker Marcus Johnson drills Saydel’s Grant Sherman at the line of scrimmage during the Bombers’ 40-0 victory over the Eagles to start Class 3A District 4 play Friday at Saydel. Photo by Joe Randleman
Ballard linebacker Marcus Johnson drills Saydel’s Grant Sherman at the line of scrimmage during the Bombers’ 40-0 victory over the Eagles to start Class 3A District 4 play Friday at Saydel. Photo by Joe Randleman
Ballard’s Tyson Pritchard starts to head upfield after intercepting a pass during the first half of the Bombers’ win over Saydel Friday. Photo by Joe Randleman
Ballard’s Tyson Pritchard starts to head upfield after intercepting a pass during the first half of the Bombers’ win over Saydel Friday. Photo by Joe Randleman
Ballard tight end Cole Wilson had three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in the Bombers’ win over Saydel Friday. Photo by Joe RandlemanBuy Photo
Ballard tight end Cole Wilson had three catches for 41 yards and a touchdown in the Bombers’ win over Saydel Friday. Photo by Joe Randleman

Shorthanded Bombers roll past Saydel, 40-0

SAYDEL – Missing a few starters didn’t faze Ballard in a 40-0 drubbing of Saydel to start Class 3A District 4 competition Friday at Saydel.

The Bombers were without five starting players entering the game.

But the Bomber defense was superb; holding a Saydel team that had topped 40 points in each of its first two games to just 71 total yards. The offense, meanwhile, was a little sluggish early, but it didn’t take too long to find its rhythm, putting two touchdowns on the board in each of the final three quarters.

“We were missing five starters so it has been kind of a crazy week – you could tell a little bit early that the week had taken a toll on us,” Ballard head coach Al Christian said. “But the guys stepped up and they found a way to get it done.”

Starting tailback Jacob Nethers had rushed for 305 yards in Ballard’s 33-26 home victory over Carlisle the previous week, but against Saydel, he was nursing a minor injury. That allowed other players to step up and tailback Isaiah Johnson and fullback Kolby Jensen delivered.

Johnson ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns on just 15 carries. Jensen had a breakout game, piling up 72 yards on nine carries, including the first touchdown run of his career to start the scoring early in the second quarter.

“The offensive line really opened up some holes out there for us,” Johnson said. “If Jacob and I were both healthy, we’d be a threat to the defense and they wouldn’t be able to stop us. Teams won’t be able to key on us because if you key on Jacob you’ve got me back there or they key on Zach (Thompson) at fullback we’ve got Kolby back there. We’ve got four good backs back there.”

Johnson did all of his scoring in the second half. He ran for an 11-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and added scoring runs from 36 and 3 yards out in the fourth period.

Jensen’s touchdown run came from seven yards out in the opening minute of the second quarter. Nethers had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and he finished with 45 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Tight end Cole Wilson also had a breakout game for Ballard on offense. He caught all three of quarterback Coy Baker’s completions for 41 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown reception just before the end of the first half.

Baker was 3 of 7 passing with one touchdown and interception apiece.

On defense Ballard forced three turnovers and didn’t allow Saydel to put together any sustained drives.

“You’ve got to give to the guys up front,” Ballard linebacker Marcus Johnson said. “Q (Quinton Erickson), TK (Tyler Kyhl) and Kenny (Randolph) hit their slants and did their job. That opened it up for us linebackers.”

Defensive back Tyson Pritchard returned an interception for a touchdown in Ballard’s win over Carlisle and he set up Ballard’s first touchdown by picking off a pass and returning it to the Saydel 10. Mason Jensen set up another Bomber touchdown in the third quarter when he picked off a Clayton Sommers pass and returned it 26 yards before being forced out of bounds just short of the end zone at the Eagle 1 yard-line.

Brandon Brown led Ballard in tackles with 14. Marcus Johnson and Ben Claussen totaled 13 apiece and Kyhl had 11.

The victory put Ballard at 2-1 overall and 1-0 in 3A District 4. The Bombers go back outside of district play next Friday when they host Norwalk.

“Next week Norwalk is a good football team and then we go back into district play,” Christian said. “We just have to strap it up and really work hard this week to get better.”

Saydel dropped to 1-2 and 0-1. Sommers ran for 31 yards on 21 carries and he was 3 of 7 passing for 31 yards with two interceptions for the Eagles.

Ballard 40, Saydel 0

B 0 14 13 13 – 40

S 0 0 0 0 – 0

Scoring

Second quarter

B – Kolby Jensen 7 run (Andrew Rasmussen kick), 11:17

B – Cole Wilson 24 pass from Coy Baker (Rasmussen kick), 1:13

Third quarter

B – Isaiah Johnson 11 run (kick failed), 5:48

B – Jacob Nethers 1 run (Rasmussen kick), 3:21

Fourth quarter

B – Johnson 36 run (Rasmussen kick), 9:17

B – Johnson 3 run (kick failed), 4:09

Team statistics B S

First downs 11 3

Rushes-yards 39-269 33-40

Passing 3-7-1 3-7-2

Passing yards 41 31

Total yards 310 71

Fumbles lost 1 1

Punts-average 3-38.0 6-39.0

Penalties-yards 7-57 10-60

Individual statistics

Rushing: B – Isaiah Johnson 15-155, Kolby Jensen 9-72, Jacob Nethers 12-43, Kobe Schulze 1-7. S – Clayton Sommers 21-31, Dylan Coffin 5-14.

Passing: B – Coy Baker 3-7-1-41. S – Sommers 3-7-2-31.

Receiving: B – Cole Wilson 3-41. S – Jacob Sherman 2-29, Evan Andrews 1-2.

Tackles: Brandon Brown 14, Ben Claussen 13, Marcus Johnson 13, Tyler Kyhl 11.

Fumble recoveries: Nathan Macki.

Interceptions: M. Jensen, Tyson Pritchard.

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