The run stops here
Bishop Ryan boasts the top offense in Class AA.
Its defense isn’t bad either.
The top-ranked Lions limited No. 5 Beulah to 97 yards of offense and recorded their second shutout of the season, posting a 34-0 West Region win Wednesday night at Herb Parker Stadium.
“We know that they run kind of a different offense and you have to be prepared for a lot of stuff that you don’t usually see,” Ryan defensive end Jared Will said. “I think that we were able to execute pretty good defensively.”
That may be an understatement.
Ryan (8-0 overall, 6-0 region) didn’t shackle just any offense; it completely hindered the state’s top running attack.
Beulah (5-3, 4-2) entered the game averaging 347 rushing yards per game, led by senior Kamron Unruh (164 yards/game). Two weeks ago, the Miners set school records with 65 carries for 550 yards on the ground.
Unruh managed only 8 yards on 15 attempts and Beulah had 89 yards altogether.
Asked what the Lions did to bottle up his normally high-powered ground game, Beulah second-year coach Jim Dooley had a simple answer: “Put Mason Kramer in the middle. I mean, he’s a horse.”
Kramer, a first-team all-state lineman in 2012, notched a team-best 11 tackles, including one for a loss.
Ryan’s dominating defense outshined its offense throughout the first half.
The Lions held a 14-0 advantage after two quarters – its first halftime lead of less than 28 points since Sept. 6.
Senior wideout Brody Bosch streaked past his defender and caught the ball in stride for a 75-yard touchdown from senior quarterback Austin Eggl 7 minutes, 42 seconds into the contest. Eggl bookended a seven-play, 71-yard drive with a quarterback sneak from 2 yards out early in the second quarter.
On the whole, Ryan found most of its success through the air.
Eggl completed 13 of 19 passes for 267 yards, with Bosch tallying five catches for 108 yards and senior Nick Berentson amassing 102 yards on three receptions.
Beulah’s defense gobbled up the Lions’ ground game, which ran for only 66 yards.
“Our line gave Eggl a lot of time to throw and that helped us out a lot,” said Will, who had two receptions. “We were able to pass the ball down the field pretty good. But we gotta know that we gotta be able to run the ball better in the next games coming up. That’s going to be important.”
In the second half, the Lions found the end zone on three of their first six offensive plays.
Following a blocked punt, Bosch caught a ball on a quick out, slipped one tackle and split two defenders as he fell across the goal line for a 10-yard score.
Senior running back Braden Kalamaha pranced in nearly untouched from 22 yards on the second play of the Lions’ next drive, which began at the Beulah 28-yard line.
With 9 seconds to play in the third quarter, Eggl kicked off Ryan’s third drive with a 43-yard strike to Berentson.
“The defense stepped up huge tonight,” Ryan coach Brad Borkhuis said. “They shut down an offense that is very, very good. Not only did they give us time for the offense to get reps, to work our offense, they gave us field position and that’s huge.”
Although the Lions won by 29 points or more for the sixth straight week, Borkhuis said Beulah gave them a much-needed test. It’s the first time since week two – a 34-24 win over Kindred – that Ryan’s starters have played all four quarters.
No. 2 St. Mary’s visits next Thursday with the West Region title at stake. Wednesday’s win over Beulah was a steppingstone.
“We told them last week that it’s gonna be a climb from here on out,” Borkhuis said. “Once we got past (Stanley-Powers Lake), then we knew (Griggs-Barnes County) was a little better than that, we knew Beulah was better than that and we know that St. Mary’s is gonna be even better than that.”
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.