BISMARCK - It was simply a matter of time and more carries before Ricardo Galindo found his stride Friday.
The dynamic Bismarck High School senior running back scored four second-half touchdowns and finished with 197 yards on 27 carries to lead the top-ranked Demons to a 28-14 win over No. 2 Minot High at the MDU Resources Community Bowl.
The win marked the sixth straight shared or outright West Region title for BHS (9-0 overall, 6-0 region) and secured a No. 1 seed in the Class AAA playoffs. MHS (8-1, 5-1) is the No. 2 seed out of the West and will host East No. 3 Grand Forks Red River on Friday. Minot won at Red River 41-21 in September.
Minot High School senior tight end Jacob Holmen gets tackled by Bismarck’s Kole Bauer during the Demons’ win Friday at the MDU Resources Community Bowl. Photo courtesy of Tom Stromme/Bismarck Tribune.
Galindo, who was held to just 24 yards on 10 first-half carries, will lead BHS against No. 4 West Fargo.
"It comes down to who's the tougher team," Galindo said. "We beat (MHS) up pretty good and we figured out their defensive scheme, so we executed."
The Demons had little figured out in the first half as the MHS defense allowed just 19 yards of total offense. Senior guard Jaden Friedt, a first-team all-state selection as a junior, left the game in the first quarter with a dislocated patella (kneecap) and MHS took advantage. Neither team scored in the first half and BHS managed just one first down to the Magicians' five.
"They've got nothing to be ashamed of because that's a good football team," BHS coach Mark Gibson said. "Defensively, they were flying around, but we also knew, hopefully, we could kind of wear on them a little bit. Once we got in a rhythm, we got little strides, we hit our wind a little bit and I thought the kids played outstanding."
MHS scored first and took two separate leads with touchdown passes of 50 and 74 yards in the third quarter.
Galindo was just getting comfortable.
His first score came on a 7-yard run with 2 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in the third quarter. It was the first time the Demons reached the red zone and was set up by a 34-yard pass from junior quarterback Hayden Gibson - the coach's son - to junior tight end Jacob Schulz.
Senior Kimani Benjamin hauled in the first MHS score and the Magicians answered the Demons' first points with a 74-yard touchdown pass to senior Tre Kinchen. The big-play ability was there for the visitors, but MHS lost three fumbles and two came on the team's best sustained drives. One was on a bad center-to-quarterback exchange at the BHS 7-yard line midway through the third quarter. MHS senior fullback Kolton Larson fumbled on the 8-yard line with the team trailing by 14 with less than four minutes left in the game.
"We made some mistakes and so we had some missed opportunities there that really hurt us," MHS coach Barry Holmen said. "Still very proud of our guys because we did very well with a very good team."
Galindo scored the final three touchdowns in a span of 5:07 early in the fourth quarter. On his second game-tying touchdown, Galindo had a huge lead blocker in junior reserve guard Jaren Olson. Galindo broke left into a gap and even had to give Olson a guiding push in the back near the 10-yard line.
"I had him in front of me and I was like 'left, left, left, left,' and (the linemen) listen up to me pretty good," Galindo said, "and they have my back and I have their back."
Galindo scored again on 10- and 62-yard runs. When the big holes didn't open, the 5-foot-7, 160-pound back lowered his shoulders and dragged tacklers for extra yards.
"For a 160-, 170-pound dude, that kid's a strong, hard-nosed runner that finished every play," Larson said. "A guy like that, you can't let him ride you and he's bound to bust one or two, but we have to minimize that come next time."
The teams can only meet again this season in the Dakota Bowl, which appears to be where the Demons are headed unless an opponent can stop Galindo.
"Ricky's all muscle. There's no fat on him," Mark Gibson said. "It's really like tackling a rock and he's a kid as the game wears on he seems to get better, but I credit our defense for hanging in. We gave up a lot of yardage, but we also didn't break completely."
MHS sophomore quarterback Ben Bolinske was 19 of 31 for 311 yards and no interceptions. Kinchen led the Magicians with 126 yards on five receptions. Senior tight end Jacob Holmen had eight catches for 95 yards and classmate Kimani Benjamin snagged six for 87. Bolinske was sacked five times, though, for a combined loss of 50 yards. Senior running back Brady Lampert was held to a team-high 31 yards on 10 carries.
"We did such a good job on defense all night," Barry Holmen said. "It was a great defensive effort. I thought, offensively, we had lots of good moments. I thought Ben Bolinske showed what he's all about. As long as we can have success and are diverse on offense then we have a chance."
Tim Chapman covers Minot High School athletics. Follow him on Twitter @chapmatp.