VELVA - The schedule may state otherwise, but Friday's game between Velva High School and Lewis & Clark-Our Redeemer's was the beginning of the postseason in the minds of the Aggies.
Prior to kickoff, Velva and L&C-ORCS were part of a three-way tie for the third playoff spot with Williams County in the Class AA West Region. With three teams battling for two spots, the Aggies (3-3 overall, 3-2 region) improved their playoff chances with a 44-22 win over the Bombers on Senior Night.
The Aggies ran over the Bombers, rushing for 292 yards and five touchdowns on 40 carries.
Velva senior running back Nathan Schmaltz finds a seam up the sideline in the Aggies’ 44-22 Senior Night win over Lewis & Clark-Our Redeemer’s on Friday. Also pictured is Bombers junior Nick Stenvold (11).
"Overall, I was happy with what we were able to do offensively," Velva coach Larry Sandy said. "I was happy that we were able to put 44 points up. That really helped."
Playing in his final home game in a Velva uniform, senior offensive lineman Kiel Werre helped spring big runs by junior running back Michael Thingstad and senior running back Taylor Barstad. He also played a key part in the running game as a ball carrier.
"This was a huge game for us," Werre said. "It was a do-or-die situation. We had to win and we wanted to win big so we just came out swinging."
Werre scored Velva's third rushing touchdown of the first half on a 4-yard carry, giving the Aggies a 19-0 lead. He finished with 69 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
"(The Bombers) let up the perimeter so easy and we just took it and got big yards," Werre said.
Before finding the end zone himself, Werre sealed off defensive linemen, allowing Thingstad and senior running back Nathan Schmaltz room to run along the outside. Thingstad and Schmaltz had touchdown runs of 13 and 12, respectively.
"They were really crashing hard on Taylor Barstad with fullback dives so we could get out on the perimeter and pick up yards," Thingstad said.
The Bombers' offense came to life in the final minute of the first half to keep L&C-ORCS (2-4 overall, 2-3 region) in the game. Sophomore quarterback Austin Lee connected with senior wide receiver Christian Olson for a 58-yard touchdown with 57 seconds remaining in the half.
Lee started slow in the first half, but finished 10-of-17 for 179 yards and a touchdown.
"Every loss is tough, but we know what we have to do now to get into the playoffs," Lee said. "We have to win the next two games and come out firing and come out as a team."
Any momentum the Bombers gained at the end of the first half didn't carry over to the second half. After going three-and-out on their first possession of the half, the Bombers allowed Velva junior Hunter Schreiner to return a punt 48 yards for a touchdown, giving the Aggies a 25-6 lead.
The Velva defense kept L&C-ORCS on its own side of the field in the third quarter, including a stop on fourth-and-1 at the Bombers' 30-yard line.
Two plays later, Barstad ran it in from eight yards to put the game out of reach.
Velva plays at Des Lacs-Burlington at 7 p.m. on Thursday and L&C-ORCS hosts Garrison-Max at 7 p.m. on Friday.