PIERRE-Mitchell High School traveled to the state capital on Friday looking for its third consecutive win, and more importantly, to break out in a congested Class 11AA with a win against No. 1 Pierre.
The Governors entered the game red-hot on offense and they continued that trend, while the Kernels were stuck in neutral, mustering a season-low 196 yards of total offense in a 42-14 loss.
Inconsistency plagued Mitchell all night, as it struggled to finish drives when it moved the ball and was hampered by negative plays and penalties on early downs in other drives.
"Pierre played very aggressive, very forward and obviously we had to go to a little passing game and the key is getting those completions," MHS head coach Kent VanOverschelde said. "It was just difficult to move the football against a good Pierre team."
Mitchell opened the game looking to get its passing game into a groove and managed to do so on the second play of the game as backup tight end Dylan Krogman made a one-handed catch for 28 yards. The drive would stall at the Pierre 16-yard line and a missed field goal from 33 yards out ended a once promising opening possession.
Pierre would go on to march down the field in save plays, punctuated by a one-yard run by Gage Gehring to take the early lead, and then scored again quickly as Gehring hauled in a touchdown pass from Garrett Stout.
The Kernels finally found some momentum after a pair of defensive stands, as Carson Max ripped off a 38-yard run on a third-down draw play, which set up a Kiel Nelson four-yard scoring run.
The momentum was short-lived, however, as Pierre responded immediately with a touchdown with 1:13 left in the first half. With the Governors set to receive the second half kickoff, Mitchell attempted to hop back into the game, but Nelson was intercepted by Jack Maher, who returned it 35 yards for a touchdown to blow the game open as Pierre went into halftime with a commanding 28-7 lead.
"It was nice to see us answer after being down 14-0, but we have to be able to sustain that and build on that momentum," VanOverschelde said. "With the turnover and the touchdown, it was obviously devastating to our night."
While Mitchell struggled to convert third downs on offense, the Kernel defense found it difficult to get Pierre off the field on third downs.
The Governors were 8 of 14 on third down, extending multiple scoring drives thanks to missed tackles and penalties, which led to short fourth down opportunities or converted first downs.
"We gave them first downs when the ball is right there in front of us on mental mistakes," VanOverschelde said. "(Pierre is) geared around shoving the football through you and we didn't have an answer."
Nelson did not play in the second half due to an undisclosed injury and finished 6 of 16 passing for 102 yards and an interception, while also rushing for 24 yards on eight attempts. Max had nine carries for 48 yards and a late touchdown run.
Stout went 10 of 19 for 190 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while also running for 149 yards on 22 attempts. Maher made six catches for 135 yards.
Mitchell (3-4) hosts Harrisburg on Friday, while Pierre (6-1) travels to Class 11AAA No. 2 Sioux Falls Roosevelt.
P: Gage Gehring 1 run (Carston Miller kick)
P: Gehring 20 pass from Garrett Stout (Miller kick)
M: Kiel Nelson 4 run (Trevor Lambert kick)
P: Maguire Raske 1 run (Miller kick)
P: Jack Maher 35 interception return (Miller kick)
P: Zane Schuchard 10 pass from Stout (Miller kick)
P: Raske 14 run (Miller kick)
M: Carson Max 25 run (Lambert kick)
RUSHING (ATT-YDS): M: Carson Max 9-48, Austin Kerr 12-26, Kiel Nelson 8-24, Drew Kitchens 1-(-4); P: Garrett Stout 22-149, Maguire Raske 16-45, Gage Gehring 5-17, Team 3-(-3).
PASSING (C-A-INT-YDS): M: Nelson 6-16-1-102, Kerr 0-3-0-0; P: Stout 10-19-1-190.
RECEIVING (REC-YDS): M: Kitchens 3-38, Koby Larson 1-28, Dylan Krogman 1-28, Kaden Soukup 1-8; P: Jack Maher 6-135, Raske 2-25, Gehring 1-20, Zane Schuchard 1-10.