SIDELL — Patrick Ganley is No. 1.
It’s more than the uniform number for the Bismarck-Henning senior. It’s an indication of who was the game leader in total offense Friday when two unbeaten Vermilion Valley Conference football teams battled at Jamaica’s Bob Yeazel Field.
Ganley scored all four of the Blue Devils’ touchdowns — including one on a 60-yard pass play in the final 90 seconds — as B-H rallied to top Salt Fork 28-25 and become playoff eligible with win No. 5.
“We’ve been in this situation (needing late-game heroics) three weeks in a row, and we’ve been able to pull them out,” B-H coach Mark Dodd said after his team’s 18th consecutive regular season win.
Salt Fork, state-ranked in Class 1A, trailed by a point at halftime but scored twice in the second half and led 25-21 when Luke Maddox hauled in a 37-yard scoring strike from Jacob Hughes with 10 minutes, 31 seconds left in the game.
“The points offensively we got, I’m not disappointed at all,” Storm coach Brian Plotner said. “I am disappointed that after some scores we didn’t get a couple of stops and shut them down. We couldn’t make stops.
“That’s the story of our season all year. We’re not very good defensively, and they made plays when they had to.”
B-H got the ball back, on downs, at its own 14-yard line with 2:39 to play. Sophomore quarterback Dylan Allen engineered a scoring drive that required less than 90 seconds.
“Whatever the defense gave is what we were going to,” Dodd said. “Allen made a lot of sight adjustments. He probably called half the plays from the line of scrimmage. He showed incredible poise.”
Allen completed 4 of 11 passes for 92 yards. His biggest throw came on a pass to Ganley over the middle, and the senior outraced the Storm to the end zone.
“They made a better play than we did on that one,” Plotner said.
“That was two really good teams playing until the end,” Dodd said. “Salt Fork is great, and we were pretty darned good. That was so much fun.”
Including kick returns, Ganley had 223 all-purpose yards.
The Blue Devils had two backs rush for more than 100 yards. Mo Abbed gained 152 yards on 19 carries, and Ganley rushed for 139 yards on 23 carries.
“Our line, they all did a fantastic job,” Dodd said. “The biggest word for this team is character. I’m very proud to say that. Win or lose, they played their hearts out.”
Salt Fork was held to 138 yards rushing (97 by Cole Taylor, who scored three of the Storm’s TDs), but Hughes connected on 13 of 21 passes against his former school and threw for 191 yards. Taylor also had 68 receiving yards.
The Storm took over with 1:02 remaining after falling behind and ran seven plays as it tried to march downfield. The seventh was a pass intercepted by Braydon Lappin-Pratt, the lone Salt Fork turnover of the night. It came with 13.4 seconds left.
“Our games are entertaining for fans,” Plotner said. “We have to find a way to make critical stops.”
Each team scored four TDs. B-H’s Dalton Duncan was 4 for 4 on his conversion placements. Salt Fork’s second extra-point try was blocked and the team tried for two-point conversions, unsuccessfully, thereafter.
TEAM CONF. OVERALL
Bismarck-Henning 3 0 5 0
Georgetown-RF/C 2 0 4 1
Salt Fork 2 1 4 1
Oakwood/A-P 1 1 1 4
Westville 1 2 1 4
Hoopeston Area 0 2 0 3
Milford 0 3 2 3
NEXT FRIDAY’S GAMES
Bismarck-Henning at Oakwood/A-P
Milford at Georgetown-RF/C
Salt Fork at Hoopeston Area
NEXT SATURDAY’S GAME
St. Francis de Sales at Westville