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Big first half leads MHS to homecoming victory

Mitchell’s Chase Harms (3) breaks a tackle by Spearfish’s Noah Friedel during Friday night’s homecoming game at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell. Also pictured is Mitch Johnson (34). For more photos from the game, go online to (Sean Ryan/Republic)

The Mitchell High School football team got back in the win column with a convincing 34-7 victory over Spearfish on homecoming Friday at Joe Quintal Field.

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The Kernels (3-1) ran through the Spartan (0-4) defense all game and took advantage of special teams’ mistakes by the visiting team.

“Our preparedness was where it needed to be,” Mitchell coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “We were able to see the pile move forward instead of getting pushed back.”

Before the homecoming crowd could settle in with popcorn and sodas, Mitchell’s Jon Jamison recovered a fumble by Spearfish punter Cesar Mendez at the Spartan 6-yard line. Kernel running back Mitch Johnson rushed up the middle for a touchdown on the next play to give the home team a quick 7-0 lead 1:34 into the game.

“We’ve taken advantage of miscues in certain situations that allow us to have of good field position,” VanOvershelde said.

A pair of 23-yard field goals by senior kicker Hakon Gustafson Gimrer put Mitchell up 13-0 midway through the second quarter.

Strong running and penalties by Spearfish put Mitchell in position to widen its lead late in the first half.

Senior Chase Harms scored on a 7-yard run with 1:35 left in the second.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Spartans tried to let the ball go out of bounds for a penalty, but a unexpected bounce allowed Mitch Johnson to recover the ball for the Kernels mere inches from the sidelines to set his team up at the Spartan’s 8-yard line. Johnson scored his secondtouchdown of the night three plays later on a 2-yard run, putting the Kernels up 27-0 at halftime.

Mitchell added to its lead in the third quarter with a 14-play drive, taking more than six minutes off the clock. The drive ended with quarterback Kanin Nelson running in for a 6-yard touchdown.

Spearfish got on the board with 10:28 left in the fourth quarter when quarterback Drew Kaitfors found tight end Kobee Farrokhi in the back of the end zone from two yards out.

Mitchell rolled up 265 offensive yards in the game, with 261 coming on the ground. Johnson finished the game with 130 yards rushing on 12 carries and two touchdowns. Harms was elusive at times, carrying the ball 10 times for 44 yards and one touchdown.

“It was exciting with it being homecoming,” said Nelson, who had six carries for 54 yards and a score. “It was a great to go out and show the crowd something.”

Leading the Kernels defense was linebacker Preston Skinner with six tackles, while Jamison finished with three tackles and two recovered fumbles.

Spearfish was led on the ground by Dylan Reiners, who ran five times for 30 yards, while Luke Wietgrefe broke loose for a 33-yard run to set up the Spartans’ only points.

“Big mistakes killed us in the game,” Spearfish coach Chad McCarty said. “It is tough to make a goal-line stand every time you go out there for defense.”

The Kernels are off next week and play Sioux Falls Roosevelt Oct. 4 in Sioux Falls.

NOTES – Mitchell started four offensive drives on the Spearfish side of the 50-yard line. … The 2013 Mitchell High School Hall of Fame class was honored at half time. The group will be inducted at a banquet today at 4 p.m.