Turtle Mountain Community High School coach Chris Smith said the key to stopping Bishop Ryan senior running back Chase Fugere was to make the initial tackle at the line of scrimmage.
The game plan was easier said than done as Fugere rushed for 164 yards on 11 carries and scored four touchdowns in less than two quarters of action in a 42-8 victory over Class AA West Region opponent TMCHS on Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium.
"Games like this are tough because we need to make sure to focus on our discipline even though we're scoring a lot of points," Ryan coach Brad Borkhuis said.
Bishop Ryan senior linebacker Chase Fugere (bottom) wraps up Turtle Mountain junior quarterback Kersten Keplin (14) in the end zone for a safety on Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium. Senior defensive lineman Isaac Tafelmeyer (54), junior defensive lineman Mason Kramer (69) and junior linebacker Jake Magnuson (20) assist on the play.
Fugere broke a 51-yard run on his second carry and scored on a 3-yarder on his fourth carry to give the Lions (2-1 overall, 1-0 region) a 6-0 lead one minute, 42 seconds into the game. By the end of the first quarter, Fugere had 139 yards on eight carries.
"The offensive line did a really good job blowing up the holes and picking up the backers," Fugere said. "They got it done tonight. Everybody played hard and fought until the whistle."
Six of Fugere's 11 carries went for at least 10 yards.
"We just don't travel very well," Smith said. "We're a young team. They're a good team. They're well-coached and they execute well. We didn't adjust. It's one of those environments where you need a leader to step up."
It wasn't just Fugere that helped Ryan win its first region game of the season. Senior defensive back Kalan Elm intercepted TMCHS junior quarterback Kersten Keplin at the goal line and recovered a fumble deep in Braves territory that led to a touchdown.
"We played our hardest, we didn't stop until the very end," Elm said. "Even when the younger kids came in they played hard and finished it out."
Ryan junior quarterback Austin Eggl played into the second quarter before being relieved by sophomore quarterback Tanner Sanders. Eggl finished 7-of-8 for 31 yards and a touchdown. He found junior wide receiver Brody Bosch in the back of the end zone with 4:16 remaining in the first quarter to give the Lions a 20-0 lead. Bosch led the team in receiving with 40 yards on three receptions.
Borkhuis said that it can be difficult to keep players' heads in the game when the outcome is no longer in doubt. Ryan scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and led 42-0 before TMCHS (0-3, 0-1) recorded its first first down of the game.
"We looked for a fast start and I was impressed with that," Borkhuis said. "We also look for whether we are disciplined and playing our scheme well. It's doing the little things that we look for."
The Braves finished without an offensive touchdown, but got on the scoreboard 36 seconds into the fourth quarter when Ryan freshman running back Zack Willard was stopped in his own end zone for a safety.
The TMCHS defense struck again when senior linebacker T.J. Lavallie forced and recovered a fumble in the end zone. The Braves defense forced four turnovers, all coming against Ryan's backups.
TMCHS junior wide receiver Bailey Carrington was taken to Trinity Hospital for precautionary measures after sustaining a concussion during the second quarter.
Ryan plays at Dickinson Trinity at 7 p.m. Friday.