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Kernels fall to Huron for first time since 2002

Mitchell senior Gramm Johnson runs the ball during the Kernels’ final regular-season football game against the Huron Tigers Thursday at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

Huron’s Lucas Morrison rushed for 304 yards to lead the Tigers to a 28-21 victory over Mitchell Friday night at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell.

A late Mitchell (3-5) comeback was stifled, ending the Kernels’ 10-game winning streak over their school-rival and adding to the confusion in Class 11AA heading into the playoffs.

“Any loss is tough and we have been through a rough patch after the early success we had,” Mitchell coach Kent VanOverschelde said after the game. “We’ve got football left to play and that is what we’re going to focus on.”

The loss was the fourth straight for Mitchell and it dropped the Kernels to the sixth seed for the Class 11AA playoffs. Mitchell will travel to Yankton Thursday for the first round. The Kernels beat the Bucks 27-21 in the season opener in Yankton. Huron plays Harrisburg Thursday in the first round in Harrisburg.

The Tigers’ (3-5) ground game scored three consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the visitors up 28-7 with less than six minutes remaining.

Mitchell made an attempt to come back late. After Kernel quarterback Kanin Nelson found Nate Wahlen for a three-yard touchdown pass with 3:13 remaining, Mitchell’s Damon Wangerin recovered an onside kick.

The Kernels marched down the field and Nelson scored on a six-yard touchdown run to move within seven points. The ensuing onside kick failed and Huron ran the clock out to secure the win.

“I was sweating it out,” Huron’s fifth-year coach Michael Postma said. “This is huge. We haven’t beaten Mitchell since 2002. We have been so close and we needed to win a game.”

Morrison’s 304 yards came on 20 carries, highlighted by a 46-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-1. Morrison also scored the only points of the first half on a 14-yard run early in the first quarter.

“Morrison was a beast tonight,” Postma said. “It started up front and our offensive line controlled the game most of the night.”

The Tigers racked up 438 yards rushing as a team. Huron was without starting quarterback Sam Carr, who broke his hand on the last play of the Tigers’ game against Aberdeen Central last week. Morrison took the snaps for Huron and kept the ball on the ground most of the night.

Huron’s Zac Brown added 21 carries for 95 yards and a score, while Tyler Kleinsasser had nine carries for 39 yards and a touchdown.

“They were physical up front and at times we had players in place and they didn’t tackle,” VanOverschelde said.

Mitchell’s offense was held in check most of the night, but Nelson was able to get loose late in the fourth quarter as the Kernels scored two late touchdowns to close the gap on the Tigers.

Nelson finished 17-of-30 passing for 162 yards, throwing one touchdown and one interception in the loss. The sophomore also ran the ball 13 times for 76 yards and a score.

Mitchell running back Mitch Johnson added 16 carries for 61 yards. Leading the Kernel receiving corps was Wahlen with six catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.

Matt Larson tied the game at seven for the Kernels on an 11-yard touchdown run with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter.

Larson was all over the field on defense, racking up a game-high 17 tackles for the Kernels. Andrew Getty added nine tackles, while Ethan Jones contributed eight.

“Every loss is tough, but especially against a rival,” Larson said. “Always have to leave it behind you and play with a short mind.”

NOTES: Mitchell senior Chase Harms came out of the game in the first half with a leg injury. ... The Kernels also honored their 21 seniors before the game.

Huron (3-5) …. 7 0 0 21 — 28

Mitchell (3-5) 0 0 7 14 – 21

First Quarter:

H: Lucas Morrison 14 run (Tyler Kleinsasser kick good)

Third Quarter:

M: Matt Larson 11 run (Hakon Gustafson Giaever kick good)

Fourth Quarter:

H: Morrison 46 run (Kleinsasser kick good)

H: Zac Brown 6 run (Kleinsasser kick good)

H: Kleinsasser 2 run (Kleinsasser kick good)

M: Kanin Nelson 3 pass to Nate Wahlen (Gustafson Giaever kick good)

M: Nelson 6 run (Gustafson Giaever kick good)

RUSHING: Mitchell: Nelson 13-76; Mitch Johnson 16-61; Landon Neugebauer 5-20; Matt Larson 3-6; Huron: Morrison 20-304; Brown 21-95; Kleinsasser 9-39.

PASSING: Mitchell: Neslon 17-30-1-162; Huron: Morrison 1-5-0-28.

RECEIVING: Mitchell: Wahlen 6-66; Ethan Jones 4-35; Matt Larson 3-34; Johnson 3-20; Tyler Larson 1-7.

DEFENSIVE LEADERS: Mitchell: Matt Larson 17 tackles; Andrew Getty nine tackles; Jones eight tackles; Huron: Collin Boehrns nine tackles; Connor Gose eight tackles; Braedy Edleman eight tackles; Houstyn Heinz one interception.