Chrest, Cavalier leave Sioux in dust

FARGO – Cavalier quarterback Ryan Chrest needed but one half to break the Dakota Bowl rushing record.

He etched his name in history on the final play of the second quarter Friday morning with a whirlwind 52-yard scramble for a touchdown that put his top-ranked Tornadoes ahead by 36 points.

Altogether, Chrest – a 6-foot, 180-pound senior – carried 16 times for 377 yards and led Cavalier to its first state title since 2004, knocking off Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn 54-6 in the 9-man championship at the Fargodome.

“It’s the best performance I’ve ever seen,” Cavalier coach Sandy Laxdal said. “Kid’s amazing, kid just makes plays.”

As time expired in the first half, Chrest rolled right to pass, scrambled back left, slipped out of a sack and crossed midfield in a dead sprint. He made two Sioux tacklers collide with a slick spin move at the 20-yard line and then danced into the end zone and the record book. The carry gave him 296 rushing yards – 10 better than the previous record set last year by Hazen’s Briar Bornemann.

“Coach always says run when I have to,” Chrest said. “I decided to run it and had some good blocks downfield by the wide receivers and I was able to break through.”

Chrest scored four touchdowns – 57, 34, 52 and 74 yards – and accounted for 392 of the Tornadoes’ 534 yards, completing his only pass for 15 yards.

Cavalier (11-0) scored the first 54 points, before W-N-G senior quarterback Hunter Braaten put the Sioux (10-3) on the board on a 20-yard scamper with 1 minute, 20 seconds remaining.

“Their line, their running backs, their quarterback, they can create things out of nothing a lot of times,” W-N-G coach Tom Nesvold said. “And they make players across the state look silly.”

After Chrest took the second play from scrimmage to the house, the Sioux responded well with a 13-play, 63-yard drive. But it stalled at the Cavalier 9-yard line – as close as W-N-G got until Braaten’s touchdown during running time.

Nesvold admitted the Sioux probably needed to score right away to have a chance against a dominating Cavalier team that outscored opponents 634-44 this year and didn’t allow a point until the postseason.

“I knew that Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn was gonna be tougher than heck,” Laxdal said. “But the kids did a lot of film study, they watched a lot of things and they went out and executed the game plan to perfection.”

Braaten, who was named the 9-man Most Outstanding Senior Athlete, tallied 238 all-purpose yards, including 123 on the ground. He may be the most productive player in Sioux history.

“All-purpose yards, he’s had over 7,000 (in his career) – I don’t know if I have to say too much more,” Nesvold said of Braaten’s legacy.

Chrest intercepted Braaten twice and junior Brock Robbins led Cavalier with a game-high 9.5 tackles.

Robbins rushed for scores of 2 and 4 yards and senior Chase Walton tallied the Tornadoes’ other touchdown with a 76-yard blast.

W-N-G, the third seed out of Region 3, posted playoff wins over No. 5 Grant County-Flasher, No. 2 TGU and No. 3 Shiloh Christian.

Nesvold said he’s proud of his team, but disappointed to lose in the Dakota Bowl for a second straight year.

“Every team’s ultimate goal is to be here and win; not just to be here, but to win it,” he said. “We fell short of our goal.”

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