Packers fall to Demons
The Packers' football season came to an end on Friday, as they lost 22-8 to the defending state champion Bismarck Demons in the State semifinals.
"We played extremely well," head coach Jay Gibson said. "We were moving the ball, but we just couldn't finish."
The first half ended in a scoreless tie, with the Packers mustering just 64 offensive yards and the Demons getting 76.
The Demons scored first early in the third quarter, scoring on a 3-yard run after a nine-play, 77-yard drive.
The Packers answered early in the fourth, with senior running back Preston Lehmann capping off an eight-play, 59-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run. With the momentum in their favor, the Packers decided to go for the two-point conversion and take the lead. They succeeded, and the Demons were trailing for the first time all season.
Bismarck fought back, however, and scored two touchdowns late in the game to seal a victory and advance to the state championship game.
Both defenses came out strong, especially Bismarck, who totaled nine sacks in the game. The Packers defense forced the Demons, who punted an average of once per game, to punt five times.
Lehmann carried the ball 23 times for 109 yards and the lone touchdown of the game for the Packers. He also ran in the 2-point conversion.
"A lot of times, the first guy (to hit Lehmann) can't bring him down," Gibson said.
Lehmann finished the season with 136 points, the second-highest season total and sixth-highest career total in school history. His 1,001 rushing yards on the season was good enough for fifth on the Packers' all-time list.
Senior wide receiver Justin Heisler finished his tenure with the Packers with 63 receptions, the fifth-highest in team history.
Looking back on the season, Gibson found little to complain about after missing the playoffs last year and losing the first two games of this season.
"It was quite a turnaround," Gibson said. "The senior class deserves a lot of credit for hanging in there, fighting through the first two games and finding a way to persevere. They went to Bismarck on Friday and played their hearts out. Everything that we had was left on that field."