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Sean Williams/MDN Des Lacs-Burlington’s Logan Rynestad (71) celebrates after a huge hit in the Lakers’ 24-15 win over Bishop Ryan on Friday night.

Both the Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers (4-2 agg, 4-1, Region 3) and Bishop Ryan Lions (3-4 agg, 3-2, Region 3) make for a very intriguing Friday night matchup and bring similarities with himself last game on the gridiron.

After going 2-0 down the season, both teams turned up the heat as soon as the regional games started and are firmly in the mix as they post a 3-1 regional record each.

After being outplayed 76-8 in their first two games, the Lakers completely changed the outlook of their season by winning their next three games, in which they outscored their opponents 90-6, including two shutout wins.

Junior running back Logan Rist made a major contribution for the Lakers, lapping for 613 yards on ground and 7 total touchdowns during the winning streak as he and the Lakers try to keep up the excellent game.

The Lions go into action Friday with a 3-1 record in their last four competitions and, like the Lakers, have picked up a couple of shutout wins and leveraged overall strong team play to get back on track. In their last four games, the Lions have outplayed their opponents 158-52, with defense conceding six points or fewer in three of those games.

With both teams keen to keep regional blemishes to a minimum, it was the Lakers who would succeed as they defeated the Lions in a 24-15 final in Minot on Friday night.

Both teams struggled to move the ball to open the first quarter, which had a heavy focus on defense coupled with drive-changing penalties. In the Lakers’ longest drive of the first quarter, a sack from Drew Zwak put the Lakers in a fourth-and-14 situation to force a punt with three minutes remaining.

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On the following drive for the Lions, the Lakers returned the favor by registering a sack to force a 1:30 punt. A short punt gave the Lakers the ball at the Lions 19-yard line, putting them in prime position to break the goalless tie.

With the same drive into the second quarter, the Lakers had back-to-back penalties to kill the excellent opportunity. A false start on the third down and an intentional grounding on the fourth down brought the ball back to the Lions.

Ready to make the Lakers pay for their mistake were the Lions, who were looking to put points on the board for the first time tonight. Unfortunately, a fumble from the Lakers’ Kole Knecht would return the ball to his team at 7:54 to go into the half as both teams were now trading turnovers.

The Lions’ Coy Okeson continued the turnover trend, seeing a wannabe screen pass perfectly, catching it for an interception and delivering the ball to the Lakers’ 9-yard line. Jett Lundeen would capitalize on the error and fire a touchdown pass to Carson Merck with a 6:01 left. After Christian Lormejuste’s free-kick, the Löwen took a 7-0 lead.

Lakers quarterback Paxton Ystaas and receiver Rylan Olson decided enough was enough as the pair tied on a pass that took the Lakers from the 33 to the Lions’ 4-yard line after an acrobatic catch by Olson.

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The tricks didn’t stop there as Ystaas found Olson on one side and Olson then connected with Braylon Fisher on a touchdown pass, cutting the Lions’ lead to 7-6 with 1:28 left after the two-point attempt was unsuccessful. That would mark the end of the first half.

The Lakers’ Eli Hennessey, who carried the ball to the Lions’ 48-yard line, made a mark with the opening kick of the second half. The Lions defense continued to show its toughness, which kept crushing the Lakers’ attempts to run the ball.

The Lakers would punt however, a fumble recovered by Logan Rynestad immediately returned the ball to the Lakers as they attempted to capitalize on the turnover. Logan Rist struggled to get the ground game going, but Logan Rist would call off a 17-yard run in third and 22nd place to give his team a fourth and short opportunity.

Moving the chains was Ystaas, who connected with Olson for the first hit from the 3-yard line. Hennessey would continue to make his presence felt, taking a straight shot of the wildcat formation to smash in a TD with 7:00 left. After an unsuccessful two-point attempt, the Lakers would take their first lead of the night at 12-7.

The answer to the shot on goal was the lions, who established a long shot with fast passes and running play. Lundeen would connect with Gus Engelhard on Lundeen’s second TD pass of the night, putting Ryan ahead 15-12 after a successful two-point conversion to Teagan Coonrod at 4:46 in the third quarter.

As both teams began to settle in and cleaner play emerged, the Lakers and Lions began a back-and-forth battle that made for a very exciting second half. The Lakers’ Kaiden Vigen drew the next punch when he intercepted a pass and took it to the 2-yard line before fumbling it, and the Lakers recovered for a touchdown in the end zone. Another failed two-point attempt put the Lakers back in the lead 18-15 with 1:56 left in the third quarter.

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The third quarter would end with the same result. The Lakers’ identity was that of a run-first team, and they were beginning to show they could do that late in the competition. In the last quarter, as the Lakers were ready to chew the clock, momentum seemed to shift more to their side.

Both teams ran quietly for most of the final quarter, but the Lakers would take the final blow when Ystaas connected with Olson for a 33-yard TD pass, extending the Lakers’ lead to 24-15 at 4:43 in Game.

Adding to their push to end the contest was Braylon Fisher, who intercepted a Lundeen pass on the next drive. The Lakers would get the ball back and keep it, bringing the game to its final 24-15 in the Lakers’ favour.

The Lions have another big one coming up next week when they travel to Velva for a rivalry game. The Lakers will head home where they will host Ray/Powers Lake. Both games will take place on Friday 7th October with kick-off scheduled for 7pm

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