No. 1 Lions roll into Class AA semifinals

Two years ago, they hoped to get here.

Last year, they were supposed to be here.

Friday night at Herb Parker Stadium, the top-ranked Bishop Ryan Lions knocked off Kindred 47-26 to reach to the Class AA state semifinals for the first time since 2007.

Ryan (10-0), the West Region’s top seed, will host East Region No. 2 seed Wahpeton at 6 p.m. Friday.

“We’re right where we need to be,” Ryan quarterback Austin Eggl said. “I guess you could say it’s nice, but it’s just another step in the road to our ultimate goal. We gotta make sure we come out next week and get ourselves to where we want to be: the state title.”

Eggl ran for four touchdowns, including three in the second half that helped the Lions turn what looked like a shootout into a bit of a rout.

Ryan and Kindred matched each other drive for drive in the first two quarters, ending the first half in a 20-all tie.

After both teams opened the half with touchdowns, Eggl took over, running for 102 of his 162 rushing yards after halftime

Like a surfer out of the closing wave, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior snuck out of mess of Kindred defenders and sprinted in for a 50-yard score.

“We had a QB trap and the line did a good job of getting me to the second level,” said Eggl, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 238 yards. “Two guys dove at my legs and kind of ran into each other, so I was able to slip free. We had good blocking downfield to get me to the end zone.”

On the ensuing drive, the Lions forced Kindred’s first punt since the opening quarter. Eggl capped Ryan’s next possession – a 13-play, 64-yard drive spanning 4 minutes, 7 seconds – with an 18-yard keeper to take the first two-possession lead of the game.

Senior running back Braden Kalamaha later scored on a 16-yard run to put the game out of reach.

Ryan coach Brad Borkhuis said his defense “rose to the occasion” after halftime.

“To go from a team that scored 20 points the first half and to hold them to six,” Borkhuis said, “I think that was a big statement from our defense in the second half.”

In the opening frame, Ryan got a heavy dose of Kindred quarterback Eric Bachmeier.

The 6-2, 185-pound Bachmeier carried on 16 of the Vikings’ first 18 plays. He rushed 32 times for 137 yards and three scores.

Borkhuis said the win – the first postseason victory of his four-year tenure – was the result of Ryan’s versatility.

“We’ve won the grind-out game against St. Mary’s, we’ve won the shootout here,” he said. “It’s about us being able to win multiple ways and really just being able to win; our kids reaching down deep into their hearts and saying, ‘We’re not going to lose.'”

Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.