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Kimball/White Lake runs past Blackhawks

Kimball/White Lake junior Eathen Gaulke (20) runs the ball with Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central’s Austin Messmer (5) chasing in a Class 9AA playoff game Tuesday in White Lake. (Nick McCutcheon/Republic)

WHITE LAKE — The Kimball/White Lake WiLdKats rolled up 412 yards on 54 carries in a 36-8 win over Woonsocket/Wessington Springs/Sanborn Central in the first round of the Class 9AA state playoffs Tuesday in White Lake.

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The WiLdKat (7-2) rushing attack was led by Eathen Gaulke, who carried the ball 26 times for 273 yards and three touchdowns.

“We wanted it a little more and we worked really hard and bounced back from a loss last year,” Gaulke said.

The junior’s scoring runs went for 49, 60 and 26 yards.

“It showed tonight that we have improved and I feel like our boys really took it to another level in this game,” WiLdKat coach Dale Taylor said.

The Blackhawks started fast, with Austin Messmer breaking free in the first quarter for a 67-yard touchdown run to put WWSSC up 8-0 with Tyler Krueger running in for the two-point conversion.

Messmer finished with 19 carries for 150 yards and a score.

The WiLdKat defense would tighten up and held the Blackhawks off the scoreboard the rest of the way.

“I felt we could score points but I was very concerned about their offense,” Taylor said. “We gave up one big play but other than that I feel like we really stuck to it on defense.”

Starting with a two-yard run by Riley Talbott to tie the game at eight, the WiLdKats would score the game’s final 36 points in the win.

Running back Turner Blasius added 14 carries for 104 yards for the WiLdKats.

K/WL quarterback Talbott completed just one pass, but it went for a 21-yard touchdown to Jace Pulse on a play action that left the junior all alone in the end zone.

Leading the strong effort for the WiLdKats on defense was Blasius with 17 tackles, while Gaulke added 14 tackles and an interception.

“It was a total team effort and I’m very pleased with what our defense was able to do out there,” Taylor said.

The Blackhawks got 10 tackles each from Messmer and Landon Ochsner.

WWSSC ends its season with a record of 5-4 and Blackhawk coach Jason Kolousek saw strong improvement from the two-win season his team had a year ago.

“We showed from day one this year that we were going to show up and work hard and our kids proved they would hit hard every day,” Kolousek said about his team’s improvement over last season.

The WiLdKats move on to play Deubrook Area (8-1) Monday in White in the second round of the 9AA playoffs.

“We have to continue to be aggressive, especially on defense,” Taylor said about his team going forward.

First Quarter

WWSSC: Austin Messmer 67 run (conversion good)

KWL: Riley Talbott 2 run (conversion good)

Second Quarter

KWL: Eathen Gaulke 49 run (conversion good)

Third Quarter

KWL: Gaulke 60 run (conversion no good)

KWL: Gaulke 28 run (conversion no good)

KWL: Talbott 21 pass to Jace Pulse (conversion good)