The Bismarck St. Mary's high school football team continues to give Bishop Ryan coach Brad Borkhuis headaches.
The Lions added to the pain.
The Saints forced five turnovers four in the first half and senior running back Robert Richter ran for two touchdowns in a 13-9 victory Wednesday at Herb Parker Stadium.
"For me this was a good win for our seniors," St. Mary's coach Dan Smrekar said. "We've had a tough season and we did it ourselves. We've played well at times and lost games we should have won, but you really feel good when the seniors can leave with a good hard effort."
The loss drops Borkhuis' record against St. Mary's to 0-3 and spoiled the Lions' chance to run the table in Class AA West Region play.
"Our kids came out without any fire," Borkhuis said. "They thought they could just come out here and just show up. It was a very sloppy game. They didn't execute. They weren't disciplined."
Battling 35 mph winds, Ryan junior quarterback Austin Eggl threw three interceptions in the first half and lost a fumble at the Lions' 29-yard line.
Eggl's fumble led to a 6-yard touchdown run by Richter on a toss play with 9:47 remaining in the second quarter.
"That's what we were looking for to end our season," Richter said. "Everything worked out well for us. We forced five turnovers, which helped us get the win."
It was the first time the Lions (7-2 overall, 6-1 region) had been shut out in the first half at home this season.
Turnovers weren't Ryan's only problem against the Saints (4-5, 3-4). Dropped passes and ill-timed penalties plagued the Lions, stalling drives and leading to turnovers.
Late in the first quarter, Ryan senior defensive lineman Isaac Tafelmeyer intercepted St. Mary's senior quarterback Trenton Bohan at the Ryan 9-yard line and returned it 91 yards for what would have been a touchdown. A holding penalty negated the score and, instead of leading by a touchdown, the Lions began the drive at their own 12-yard line.
Senior wide receiver Kalan Elm dropped a sure first down deep downfield on third-and-2 and a holding penalty on the ensuing play negated a first down. The Lions were forced to punt.
Saints junior cornerback Brian Obritsch intercepted Eggl twice in the first half, but the Ryan quarterback wasn't to blame for the latter. Eggl's pass deflected off Ryan senior wide receiver Luke Nasers' hands and into the arm of Obritsch, who returned it to the Lions' 35-yard line.
"I thought our defense played phenomenal," Smrekar said. "That's the best four quarters we have played all season."
Richter scored his second rushing touchdown with 5:51 remaining in the third quarter on a 6-yard carry up the middle. Richter's touchdown stemmed from a Ryan fake punt attempt that came inches short of first-down yardage.
"I hope it really gets the team going for next year," Richter said. "This just shows how good we can be."
The Lions got on the scoreboard with 6:43 remaining in the fourth quarter when junior running back Nick Berentson injured running back Chase Fugere's replacement carried the ball 48 yards on an option pitch, shaking off tacklers along the sideline. Berentson finished with 145 yards on 28 carries.
St. Mary's opted to surrender a safety with 38 seconds left in regulation instead of punting from its own goal line. The gamble paid off as the Saints' defense held firm on fourth-and-8 at St. Mary's 16-yard line. Eggl's pass to junior wide receiver Jake Magnuson fell incomplete at the 5-yard line.
"Our best opportunity to take from this is a lesson to be learned," Borkhuis said, "and they better learn it in the next 10 days. We have to come back as a different team next Saturday."
Ryan hosts Valley City on Oct. 27 in the first round of the Class AA playoffs.