Running back A.J. Dale is listed on the Shiloh Christian football roster at 5-foot-10. That's a stretch, a big stretch.
But you wouldn't know it by looking at the gaudy numbers he put up Saturday as the Skyhawks opened the state 9-man playoffs with a 63-24 win over St. John at shiny new Miller Field.
Dale was beaming after rushing for 143 yards and three scores, and catching two passes for 63 yards and two touchdowns in Shiloh's first playoff win and home playoff game.
St. John quarterback Kiefer Langan is pressured by Shiloh Christian's James Inman during a pass Saturday in Bismarck. Photo courtesy of Will Kincaid/Bismarck Tribune.
"It's an amazing feeling to get our first playoff win in our first season on this field. It can't get any better than that," Dale said. "We get to play here next week too. It'll be amazing."
Dale's performance was amazing as he went over 1,000 yards for the season. He scored twice in the first quarter to help the Skyhawks go up 14-6. He had a 6-yard run and 19-yard pass from Zac Martin.
"We ask a lot of that kid and he comes to play every day," Shiloh coach Funnon Barker said. "He just loves the game and he just refuses to lose."
Dale had a big sack on the Skyhawks' first defensive stop and later recovered a fumble.
The only blemish on his night was a fumble that stopped what seemed destined to be another scoring drive. As it turned out, the Skyhawks didn't need it. The 63 points was a season high for Shiloh.
While Shiloh rushed for 350 yards, Martin was also effective. He passed for 111 yards and four touchdowns and kicked seven extra points.
Dale was on the receiving end of a 44-yarder early in the third quarter to set in motion the running clock. Martin added an 8-yard TD pass to James Inman and a 1-yarder to Blake Emmel.
Emmel led all rushers with 169 yards on 17 carries.
Dale, meanwhile, chipped in a 1-yard run in the third quarter and a 67-yard dash in the fourth.
"The plan was to try to pound it up the middle, and if that didn't work we were going to try to pass it," Dale said. "We were going to do whatever it takes to score."
St. John coach Corey Davis said the Woodchucks simply didn't make plays on defense, which quickly put them in a hole.
"Our defense couldn't get a stop," Davis said. "We weren't able to make the tackles when we needed to."
Woodchucks quarterback Kiefer Langan had success early through the air. He completed several long passes and a 23-yard TD to Seth Vivier in the first quarter.
He also closed the gap to 20-12 with a 32-yard TD pass to Joe Mickelson with 10:23 left in the half.
Shiloh turned up the heat on Langan and the offense continued to pile up yards and plays. The Woodchucks couldn't respond.
"When they're running 8, 9, 10 players at you, it takes the air out of the ball for you," Davis said. "They adjusted to our passing and brought some more pressure and got to our quarterback."
Langan completed 13 of 24 passes for 248 yards and three scores. He threw a 40-yard strike to Mickelson in the third quarter.
Vivier replaced Langan late in the game and hooked up with Dalton Poitra on a late 76-yard TD. Poitra had two catches for 108 yards and Mickelson had four for 96.
Mickelson led St. John in rushing with 34 yards.
Alex Delzer put the final touches on Shiloh's big night with a 19-yard run.
"We wanted to come out and be physical up front and wear them down as the game went on. I think we did that," Barker said.