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Parkston advances to quarterfinals with win over Wagner

Brooke Cersosimo/Republic Parkston's Henry Wegehaupt runs the ball a Wagner defender reaches for a tackle during the first round of the Class 11B football playoffs Tuesday in Wagner. Parkston won the game 21-14.

WAGNER -- With 54 seconds left on the clock, Henry Wegehaupt jumped up and came down with the ball, intercepting a Dylan Brunsing pass, to secure Parkston's 21-14 victory over Wagner in a Class 11B playoff game Tuesday night in Wagner.

"They were making catches and I wasn't getting to the ball on the right side, so coach told me to go play corner on the other side," Wegehaupt, a senior, said. "On the next play, there I was. I was put in a good position to make that interception."

The game was tied at 14 with four minutes left to play, and Parkston took the 21-14 lead with a 2-yard touchdown run by Jesse Thuringer, causing chants and cheers from the Trojan fans.

After the Trojans forced Wagner to turn the ball over on downs, all Parkston had to do was hang on to the ball. After a Parkston timeout, the Trojans fumbled the ball on the next play, allowing Wagner to recover on its own 21-yard line with 1:49 left in the fourth quarter, giving the Red Raiders one final hope, and one final drive, in attempt to knot the game at 21.

The Red Raiders were able to put a string of passing plays together, and Wegehaupt's interception left the comeback short, giving Parkston the upset win over Wagner, the region's No. 2-rated team based off regular-season power points.

The Trojans (7-2) advance to the quarterfinal round Monday. Wagner ends its season 6-3.

Norden said the win was a team effort.

"I thought the guys played their hearts out and really worked hard in that last drive," said Norden, whose team lost to Wagner 15-10 on Aug. 31. "That was an outstanding play by Henry and it got us to where we needed to go."

Wagner head coach Jason Knebel said his team played all the way to the end and laid it all on the line.

"At that last time out, I told the guys that we're going to get the ball back and we're going to score, and they believed in me," Knebel said, referring to the fumble. "We almost did it. They played for 48 solid minutes, and as a coach that makes me dang proud that I have guys that can do that."

Wagner outgained Parkston in total offensive yards 333-228, but the Trojans' running game eventually took its toll on the opponent.

"We're going to pound you and see if we can wear you out by the fourth quarter," Norden said. "Our line did a great job of getting guys sealed and the (running) backs got through the holes, and we really tried to exploit what we could get."

Parkston had three players score on rushing touchdowns in the game. Jesse Thuringer had 10 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown, Miles Semmler had 24 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown and Wegehaupt had six carries for 25 yards and a touchdown.

Wagner's Brunsing led the offense, completing 11 of 23 passes for 155 yards. David Kocer had 19 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown and Noah St. Pierre had four carries for 53 yards and a touchdown.

Norden said the win over its long-time Southeastern South Dakota Conference rival was just what his team needed to gain momentum in the playoffs.

"It's been a few years since we've been in the playoffs, so it's a big win for us," he said. "It's just great for our program right now and we're looking forward to the next game we get now."

First Quarter

P: Henry Wegehaupt 3 run (kick good)

W: David Kocer 3 run (conversion failed)

Third Quarter

W: Noah St. Pierre 50 run (Christ Kuca pass from Dylan Brunsing)

P: Dillan Thuringer 1 run (kick good)

Fourth Quarter

P:Jesse Thuringer 2 run (kick good)

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.