SPEARFISH -- Coming into the 2017 season, it had been two years since Sturgis football was able to celebrate a win.
Saturday after the Northern Hills Bowl, the Scoopers were able to end a losing streak that felt like it might never end, as they topped Belle Fourche 40-21.
"A lot of hard work was put in by our coaches and players, that's what makes this so special," Sturgis coach Chris Koletzky said. "Frustrating isn't the word I would use, but what I would say is that it tests your mental toughness. When you go two years without a win, you have to keep fighting through it."
Sturgis would fight through it with its run game, as the Scoopers triple option attack put up 388 rushing yards against the Broncs. Wamsher finished with 159 yards, while teammate Trevor Erienbusch added 132 yards.
"We always focus on the run game first because that's what wins it," Koletzky said. "That's something we hit right away."
Belle Fourche started the game with the ball and began with a long drive, set up by a 37-yard completion from quarterback Tate Hostetter to Jackson Mailoux.
Right after the completion, lightning was seen in the distance and the second weather delay of the night was called. Thirty minutes later, it was like the Broncs never left the field, as they capped off their drive with a 21-yard touchdown run from Dylan Burns wih 9:37 still left in the quarter.
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It wouldn't take Sturgis long to respond, as Noah Wamsher raced 51 yards for his first touchdown of the game. The extra point was missed so the Broncs still held on to a 7-6 lead with 8:17 left to go in the first quarter.
It wouldn't stay that way long. On the first play of the next drive, Belle Fourche put the ball on the turf and the Scoopers were able to hop on the ball. From there it was five plays for Wamsher to find the end zone again, this time scoring from 24 yards out. With 6:30 to go in the first quarter Sturgis had its first lead at 14-7 after the 2-point conversion.
The rest of the half would be mostly teams trading punts, until the Scoopers got a big last-second break. Hostetter threw up a jump ball, which Gavin West of Sturgis was able to come down with at around midfield and take back for a touchdown.
Another 2-point try failed and the Scoopers led 20-7 at halftime.
The second half got out to a fast start for Sturgis, as the Scoopers scored on a 20-yard touchdown run on an end-around from Cameron Brinkman. The drive took only 2:11 and after another missed 2-point conversion Sturgis led 26-7.
Belle Fourche responded right away, as Morgan Garrett took the next kickoff 86 yards for the touchdown to give the Broncs life.
They got even more life on the next drive, as a mishandled snap on fourth down gave Belle Fourche great field position, finding itself on the Sturgis 14-yard line.
The Broncs would be unable to score, as a goalline stand from the Scoopers kept Belle Fourche out of the end zone and kept the score 26-14.
"They score there and it's a different game," Koletzky said. "During the summer, we say every inch matters, finish through the line. Those are all the small moments that end up paying off."
Sturgis would get the ball at its on 5-yard line, and from there it put together the drive of the game, and the one that would end the game for Belle Fourche.
A 12-play, 95-yard drive that was capped off by a Trevor Erlenbusch 4-yard touchdown run. That put the Scoopers up 33-14 with nine seconds left in the third quarter, and ended the chance of a Bronc comeback.
In the fourth quarter Sturgis was again methodical in controlling the line of scrimmage and draining the clock scoring one final time with 5:34 left in the game. Carter Neuschwander scored on a 16-yard run to put Sturgis up 40-14.
Belle Fourche would add a touchdown with 3:26 left to play on a 30-yard touchdown from Hostetter to Bryce Nicholas to make it 40-21, but the damage was done.
A onside kick attempt was no good, and Sturgis was able to run out the last 3:26 to snap a 20-game losing skid.
For Belle Fourche, it will look to regroup as it takes on Madison next weekend.
"I thought they had a little more experience than us. They have a really talented senior class," Belle Fourche coach Scott Slotten said. "I thought we made more mistakes than they did, and the team that makes fewer mistakes is going to win. They made one and we probably made six."
Sturgis will be at Douglas (0-1) Friday night.