WOLSEY – The Bon Homme Cavaliers didn’t let a halftime lead slip away this time against Wolsey-Wessington.

And because of that, the Cavaliers will play for a state championship for the first time since 1995.

Bon Homme completely controlled the first half of Friday night’s Class 9AA semifinal against the top-seeded Warbirds. The Cavaliers then did enough in the final two quarters to finish off a 44-22 victory.

No. 4 Bon Homme (10-1) avenged its only setback this season by controlling a Warbirds offense that came into the game 52.3 points and 607.8 yards per game. Wolsey-Wessington was held scoreless in the first half and had only eight points entering the fourth quarter.

Unlike the Aug. 24 meeting when Bon Homme left a 24-8 halftime advantage result in a 38-36 double-overtime victory, the Cavaliers did enough in the second half to maintain its lead.

Now the Cavaliers will face No. 7 Kimball/White Lake (8-3) on Thursday at 1 p.m. in the DakotaDome for the 9AA state championship game.

“I love these kids,” Bon Homme coach Byron Pudwill said in the midst of the Cavaliers’ postgame celebration “I’m an old man and I’ve been there (state championship game) and done that. I’m happy for them. I’ve been there but I’m more than happy to go again. You see them work so hard. They do everything you ask.”

They did plenty in the first half.

The Cavaliers scored on four of five possessions. Defensively, Bon Homme limited the Warbirds to 9 yards of total offense in the first half on 19 plays. Wolsey-Wessington had negative 11 yards rushing on 14 tries.

“We believed that each one of us would do our jobs,” Bon Homme senior Joey Slama said. “We watched a bunch of film and we learned their tendencies to be able to read it quick.”

Quick was good way to describe how Bon Homme’s offense struck in the first half.

The Cavaliers opened the game by covering 71 yards in six plays. Uecker capped off the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Slama connected with Scieszinski for the two-point conversion to make it 8-0 with 8:59 remaining in the opening quarter.

Slama then threw a touchdown pass, had a pair of rushing scores and hauled in a touchdown pass to help the Cavaliers jump out to a 29-0 halftime advantage. Slama finished with 288 yards passing and 151 yards rushing.

“we knew we had to come out fast and come out strong,” Slama said. “The last time we played them, we got up and let off. They made us pay. In this game, we kept going and kept going.”

The Warbirds had a few chances to catch up to the Cavs in the second half.

Bon Homme had a touchdown called back due to a penalty and a fumble inside the 1-yard line. But a pair of Slama touchdown passes helped the Cavaliers maintain their cushion.

“I put all my trust into these seniors,” Bon Homme junior line Cole Bares said. “They’ve had my back this whole way. We told each other at the beginning of the season that if we worked hard, stayed in the gym that we could make it to the state championship game and we did. Joey (Slama) and John (Kubal) pushed me so hard and they kept me in that gym.”

Bon Homme - 15 14 0 15 — 44

Wolsey-Wessington - 0 0 8 16 — 22

1st quarter

BH — 8:59 - Christian Uecker 2-yard run. (Joey Slama pass to Scieszinski, 2-point conversion complete). 8-0

BH — 0:34 - Slama 3-yard run, (Joshua Crownover conversion kick complete). 15-0

2nd quarter

BH — 6:47 - Slama 6-yard run, (Crownover conversion complete). 22-0

BH — 3:19 - Crownover 17-yard pass to Slama, (Crownover kick complete). 29-0

3rd quarter

WW — 3:35 - Lynden Williams 5-yard run, (Diedrich Offt 2 point conversion run complete). 29-8

4th quarter

BH — 4:07 - Slama 47-yard pass to Scieszinski, (Crownover conversion complete). 36-8

WW — 3:45 - Zomer 54-yard pass to Williams, (conversion failed). 36-14

BH — 1:36 - Slama 5-yard pass to Josh Schmidt, (Slama pass 2-point conversion complete). 44-14

WW — 0:21- Zomer 34-yard pass to Williams, (Zomer 2-point conversion complete). 44-22

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