MANDAN -- There was no messing around for the Mandan Braves Saturday night.
Needing to win to get into the Class AAA playoffs, the Braves dominated a short-handed Jamestown team 38-7 at Starion Sports Complex. The Braves earned a trip to Fargo on Friday to face fourth-ranked Fargo Davies (6-1).
The Blue Jays, playing without head coach Bill Nelson and quarterback Ty Monson, will face No. 2-ranked West Fargo Sheyenne (7-0) on Friday.
The win, Mandan's fourth in seven games, carried extra meaning for the Braves.
"In middle school we used to get bombed by all these teams," standout senior wide receiver Tyler Thilmony said. "We just kept working hard in the offseason to get better and now here we are in the playoffs, getting to play another week. It feels great."
The Braves held Jamestown to 14 first-half yards and 97 total. Thilmony had an interception and Mandan's senior-laden defense swarmed Jamestown backup quarterback Payton Hochhalter to the tune of six sacks. Drew Condon and Jaxon Duttenhefer had two each.
"You have to say their quarterback (Monson) is a senior athlete of the year candidate and to not have their head coach and a couple other players, that was tough for them, no question," Mandan head coach Todd Sheldon said. "We were able to get after their young quarterback, get him a rattled a little bit with some pressure and keep them out of sync offensively.
"I thought those front five guys, on both sides of the ball for us, played exceptional."
Monson missed the game with a hip injury. Nelson was sidelined for covid-related issues, which was the same reason the game was played Saturday night instead of Wednesday when it was originally scheduled.
Quarterback Jayce Lowman had no problem throwing in the bitter cold. The Braves' senior signal-caller completed 14 of 21 passes for 173 and two touchdown passes. Lowman added a rushing TD right before halftime, which made it 24-0.
"I felt like Jayce played really well. He made a lot of really good decisions," Sheldon said.
Thilmony, who had five catches for 78 yards, said single-digit wind chills were no sweat.
"You don't feel it when you're having fun flying around," he said. "We're fortunate to be playing and having a season. Not everybody is. We don't want to waste it."
Treys Tietz reeled in six catches for 56 yards, including a 4-yard scoring reception from Lowman to make it 31-0 late in the fourth quarter. Lowman also connected with Aaron Grubb for a 32-yard scoring strike at the 8:29 mark of the second quarter.
After each TD, Sarah Burgum buried the PAT. She also nailed a 25-yard field goal into the wind to make it 10-0 in the first quarter.
"We had a really good week of practice. It was up to us to come out and execute," Thilmony said. "We shouldn't need any motivation for a game like this. It was win or go home."
The victory meant Legacy, at 4-3, was left out of the playoffs. Jamestown's 21-20 win over the Sabers -- a game Legacy led 20-0 on Sept. 18 -- was the tie-breaker.
James Barnhardt scored the first touchdown of the game. It came immediately after Thilmony turned a wide receiver screen into a 60-yard reception on third down on the Braves' first drive.
"We have a great group of seniors. We talked about how we felt like we let one slip away against Legacy, and Legacy is a good team for sure, but we wanted to make sure that didn't happen again," Sheldon said. "We're really happy for those kids to get to play in the playoffs and hopefully we'll put our best foot forward next week against Davies."
Mandan 38, Jamestown 7
Jamestown 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Mandan 10 14 7 7 -- 38
Mandan: James Barnhardt 1 yard run (Sarah Burgum kick), 10:31.
Mandan: Burgum 25 field goal, 5:44.
Mandan: Aaron Grubb 32 pass from Jayce Lowman (Burgum kick), 8:29.
Mandan: Lowman 8 run (Burgum kick), :11.
Mandan: Treys Tietz 4 pass from Lowman (Burgum kick), 1:56.
Mandan: Lowman 4 run (Burgum kick), 11:55.
Jamestown: Brode Hillstrom 36 pass from Payton Hochhalter (Reece Kleinknecht), 1:42.
Rushing: Jamestown -- Paris Ndikum 4-14, Jakob Schempp 3-5, Jacob Hilgemann 1-5, Payton Hochhalter 6-(-26). Mandan -- James Barnhardt 89-17, Dakota Sweeney 8-16, Garret Schaefbauer 6-14, Ben Kleinknecht 5-15, Jayce Lowman 4-25, Dylan Cline 3-2, Brenden Palmer 1-5.
Passing: Jamestown -- Hochhalter 8-18 99 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT. Mandan -- Lowman 14-21 173 yards, 2 TD.
Receiving: Jamestown -- Brode Hillstrom 1-36, Zackry Boeshans 1-24, Preston Kroeber 2-16, Hilgemann 2-12, Keith Levin 1-6, Schempp 1-5.
Interceptions: Mandan -- Tyler Thilmony.
Records: Mandan 4-3 West Region, 4-3 overall; Jamestown 3-3 West Region, 4-3 overall.