Sturgis gridders defeat Belle Fourche

Sturgis' Sanden Graham, right, evades the Belle Fourche defense. Pioneer photo by Jason Gross

BELLE FOURCHE — Sturgis' football team improved to 4-4 on the season after downing Belle Fourche 35-6 Friday night at Lou Graslie Field.

"I'm tickled to death at how they played because we started two freshmen on the D-line," Sturgis head coach Chris Koletzky said in describing his team's defense. "They had to step in tonight, and they did a great job."

Kaden Phillips' interception gave Sturgis a first down at the Belle Fourche 42-yard line. Talon Elshere's 5-yard touchdown run and Brodie Eisenbraun's kick put the visiting Scoopers ahead 7-0.

Sturgis had the ball at the Broncs' 19-yard line early in the second quarter. Belle Fourche's Thomas McCoy intercepted a pass to end the threat.

The Scoopers recovered a fumble at Belle Fourche's 38-yard line. Phillips sprinted 38 yards for a touchdown on the next play; Eisenbraun's kick put the Sturgis lead at 14-0.

Sturgis moved 61 yards in seven plays on its next possession. Owen Cass' 5-yard touchdown pass to Sanden Graham, followed by an Eisenbraun kick, enabled the Scoopers to lead 21-0.

Belle Fourche regained possession later in the second period on Lan Fuhrer's interception. The Broncs went three-and-out to end the half.

Bronc Aidan McCarty intercepted a pass to start the third quarter, but Belle Fourche later turned the ball over on downs.

Elshere sprinted 49 yards for a Sturgis touchdown late in the third period. Dominik Smith added the extra point to put the Scoopers ahead 28-0 at the break.

A 47-yard touchdown run by Elshere, followed by Smith's kick, boosted the Sturgis advantage to 35-0.

Belle Fourche avoided the shutout on Brextin Garza's 17-touchdown run with 2 1/2 minutes remaining. The unsuccessful conversion try accounted for the 35-6 final.

Koletzky said Sturgis' defense also boasts really good linebackers, and they helped their younger teammates.

"Belle Fourche is a tough team," Koletzky said. "It took us a while to get our feet wet and get rolling."

As for the Scoopers' offense, Koletzky said, it has some speedy athletes who can stretch the field.

"It's been a long time coming for us," Koletzky said when asked about Sturgis' reaching the .500 mark. "The key here is to make sure our guys are focused, they keep pressing on, and realize what their potential could be."

Belle Fourche head coach Scott Slotten said the team made some plays but did not capitalize on turnovers or good field position. He added Sturgis placed eight defenders in the box and dared the Broncs to throw the ball.

"The boys fought hard, and that's all we can ask," Slotten said. "We tackled well for 75% of the game."

Sturgis will visit archrival Spearfish in the regular-season finale on Thursday, Oct. 22. Belle Fourche (2-5) goes to Custer for its finale that day.

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