It only took the Mitchell High School football team three offensive plays to put its stamp on the second annual Kernel Bowl.
After Brookings was stuffed by the Kernel defense near the goal line, Drew Kitchens busted loose for an 85-yard touchdown run to give Mitchell an early 6-0 lead. From there, it was all Mitchell as the No. 2 Kernels powered past No. 4 Brookings 21-7 in front of an estimated crowd of 2,500 on Saturday night at Joe Quintal Field.
Mitchell (2-0) kept Brookings out of the end zone for the first three quarters and won the battle in the trenches, using a strong rushing attack on offense.
“When it counted, we were able to make the stops,” MHS head coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “To hit a big one there (Kitchens’ 85-yard TD run), relieved some stress of moving the football early. The offensive line played really well.”
Kitchens capped a long scoring drive in the second quarter, scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run. A fake extra-point pass from Briggs Havlik to Dylan Krogman made the score 14-0, which held until halftime.
“Our linemen came together and (tackle) Tegan Alm gave me a pretty good block and helped me get there,” said Kitchens, who finished the game with 20 carries for roughly 150 yards and two touchdowns. “That gave us all the momentum.”
On their first possession of the second half, the Kernels took a 21-0 lead after Kiel Nelson scored on a 20-yard touchdown run. Nelson finished the game 4-of-12 passing for 53 yards and had one interception, while adding 11 carries for 23 yards rushing. Carson Max had 17 carries for 80 yards as Mitchell rushed for more than 200 yards for the second straight week.
“We didn’t show a lot of maturity and we didn’t have that focus you need to have against a really good team like Mitchell,” Brookings head coach Lee Schmidt said after the game. “Mitchell is a really good football team, they’re fast. They got players everywhere.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Brookings finally got on the scoreboard as Parker Beers scored on a 2-yard touchdown run to make the score 21-7. Mitchell was able pick up enough first downs to work the clock and the defense forced two more stops as the Kernels closed out the win.
“Our defensive line has really been getting after it,” said Jarod Uher, who recorded his second interception of the season on Saturday. “They provide pressure on the quarterback and that makes it easier for us.”
Austin Kerr and Max each added an interception for the Mitchell defense, which held Brookings to less than 140 yards rushing. Beers led the Bobcats with 20 carries for 56 yards and one touchdown and quarterback Nick Hardin completed 11 of 32 passes for 156 yards with two interceptions and rushed five times for 32 yards.
“They are so active and they’re athletic,” Schmidt said. “The secondary covered a lot of ground and made a lot of plays. Mitchell made us throw the ball more, we’d like to be more of a running team. Sometimes tough games like this help you refocus.”
VanOverschelde said his defense did a great job of getting pressure on Hardin and made it hard on the Bobcats to get in any offensive rhythm.
For the Kernels, it’s the first 2-0 start since 2013 and the team is now 1-1 in the Kernel Bowl. Mitchell fell 27-10 to Harrisburg in last year’s inaugural event.
“It’s a lot better this year to leave with a win,” Uher said. “It’s been a good start. We have lot momentum going and hopefully we carry that through next week.”
Mitchell takes on Yankton on Friday in Freeman, while Brookings (1-1) plays at Spearfish on Friday.
NOTES: Matt Lambert was named the scout team player of the week for the Kernels. ... D.J. Krogman was named KMIT’s Kernel Bowl outstanding lineman, while Drew Kitchens was named outstanding back. … MHS Activities Director Cory Aadland called the second annual Kernel Bowl a success and said he was “amazed at the support we continually get from the community.”
Brookings 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Mitchell 6 8 7 0 -- 21
M: Drew Kitchens 85 run (kick failed)
M: Kitchens 1 run (Dylan Krogman pass from Briggs Havlik)
M: Kiel Nelson 20 run (Trevor Lambert kick)
B: Parker Beers 2 run (Justin Devine kick)
*Complete statistics were not available from the game.