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Kernels suffer first home loss

Mitchell’s Ethan Jones runs the ball during the fourth quarter of an Eastern South Dakota Conference game against Brookings Friday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

The Brookings Bobcats came back to break the hearts of the Mitchell faithful 21-18 on a blustery Friday night at Joe Quintal Field.

After a miraculous trick-play touchdown to give the Kernels (3-3) a four-point lead with 2:34 remaining, Bobcat backup quarterback Carter Gordon engineered a 57-yard drive to put Brookings (3-4) up for good.

“We have had a lot of tough games where we weren’t able to come back,” Brookings coach Lee Schmidt said. “I think the kids were finally tired of coming out on the short end.”

Mitchell is becoming familiar with the hook and ladder play and Friday the Kernels ran it to perfection.

“Our kids believe that we can make plays, and I was very proud of how we were able to make that happen,” Mitchell coach Kent VanOverschelde said.

With the game hanging in the balance on a fourth-and-8 at the Brookings’ 45-yard line, Kernel quarterback Kanin Nelson slung a pass to tight end Ethan Jones. Instead of catching the pass, Jones intentionally tipped the ball to teammate Matt Larson, who sprinted up the sideline for the go-ahead score.

“I was just amazed that it worked,” Jones said. “It’s a great play and is something that we have worked on all week.”

The jubilation was short-lived as Brookings took the ensuing kickoff 57 yards in five plays, with Gordon finding Tyler Madler for a 33-yard touchdown. Madler broke through a tackle on the sideline and sprinted away from the defense for the score to put the Bobcats up by three.

“I was concerned because I thought we might have left too much time,” VanOverschelde said. “You have to give Brookings all the credit for making plays when we didn’t.”

Mitchell’s final effort to get into scoring range was thwarted when Nelson was called for intentional grounding on first down at the Brookings 47-yard line and was sacked on the next play to set up a third-and-40. Brookings held on a fourth-down heave to secure the win.

Brookings came out after halftime with a 7-6 lead and the game opened up as the wind died down.

Nelson was able to find some openings in the secondary after the Kernel running game got going. Nelson finished 9-of-14 passing for 165 yards, one touchdown and one interception. The top target for Nelson was Larson, who finished with three catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. Jones racked up five receptions for 57 yards.

Mitch Johnson led the Kernel ground game with 18 carries for 75 yards, while Landon Neugebauer finished with 24 yards on seven carries and found the end zone early in the fourth quarter to pull the Kernels within two.

Leading the Mitchell defense was Austin Getty with 24 tackles, while Larson contributed eight tackles. Luke Mauer and Jon Jamison each tallied a sack.

Gordon came in late for starting quarterback Tyler Hanson and finished 5-for-9 for 94 yards and a touchdown.

Bobcat running back Gerald Maxwell finished with 10 carries for 60 yards, while Dayton Bender caught four passes for 51 yards.

The Brookings defense was led by Wyatt Resmen with 12 tackles and Adam Pharis, who had nine tackles and two solo assists for the Bobcats.

Mitchell plays Watertown at 7 p.m. Friday in Watertown. After a bye week, Brookings plays Watertown at 7 p.m. on Oct. 24 in Watertown.

Brookings (3-4) 0 7 7 7 — 21

Mitchell (3-3)… 6 0 0 12 – 18

First Quarter:

M: Hakon Gustafson Giaever 23 field goal

M: Hakon Gustafson Giaever 28 field goal

Second Quarter:

B: Tyler Hanson 8 pass to Dayton Bender (kick good)

Third Quarter:

B: Cody Shepardson 1 run (kick good)

Fourth Quarter:

M: Kanin Nelson 5 pass to Landon Neugebauer (conversion failed)

M: Nelson 45 pass to Matt Larson (conversion failed)

B: Carter Gordon 30 pass to Tyler Madler (kick good)

PASSING: Mitchell: Kanin Nelson 9-14-1-165; Brookings: Carter Gordon 4-11-0-94, Tyler Hanson 5-9-1-43.

RUSHING: Mitchell: Mitch Johnson 18-75, Nelson 13-31, Landon Neugebauer 7-24, Chase Harms 5-12; Brookings: Gerald Maxwell 10-60, Cody Shepardson 10-36, Gordon 3-4, Dayton Bender 2-15.

RECEIVING: Mitchell: Matt Larson 3-85, Ethan Jones 5-57, Johnson 1-10; Brookings: Bender 4-51, Tyler Madler 2-45, Maxwell 2-22, Jordan Lendal 1-19.

DEFENSE: Mitchell: Austin Getty 12 tackles, Matt Larson 8 tackles; Brookings: Wyatt Resmen 12 tackles, Adam Pharis 9 tackles.