Mitchell High School needed a win in Friday night's matchup with Class 11AA No. 3 Harrisburg at Joe Quintal Field to preserve its hopes to hosting a home game in the state football playoffs
After a Trevor Lambert 28-yard field goal in the third quarter gave the Kernels a 17-7 lead, they appeared to be on their way to doing just that.
On the first play of the ensuing possession, however, a breakdown in coverage left Harrisburg's Jhei Roewart wide open and quarterback Jack Teigen found him for a 58-yard touchdown.
It was one of three passing plays that went for 40 yards or more, accounted for 151 of the team's 224 passing yards, and more importantly, all three touchdowns to beat Mitchell, 21-17.
"Defensively, I thought we played well all night, except for the three big plays," MHS head coach Kent VanOverschelde said. "That's been our issue defensively. Harrisburg obviously took advantage of that. When we have a lead the offense seems to stall out as well."
Mitchell was able to march down the field on the opening possession of the game on a 13-play, 69-yard drive, finished on a one-yard touchdown run by Carson Max. Harrisburg would tie the game on its first possession, with Feigen connecting with Michael Hybertson on a 40-yard scoring strike.
Drew Kitchens was able to regain the lead for his team on a six-yard run in the second quarter, but offense would come at premium after that. Mitchell either started inside Harrisburg territory or near midfield four more times, but only came away with three points.
"It's just having that consistency to keep playing throughout the game," VanOverschelde said. "I thought our running backs did a nice job of taking what was there. ... In those drives (Harrisburg) was winning those battles on the line. They were standing us up and getting that push."
Despite giving up the three big passing plays, the Kernel defense stood firm throughout the game, forcing two turnovers and sacking Teigen three times in the game, while also holding Harrisburg to just 67 yards rushing.
Linebacker Nick Robinson was at the front of the defensive effort, posting three tackles-two for a loss-to go along with a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and batted down a pass, while Dylan Krogman made six tackles, three in the backfield, and had 1 1/2 sacks.
Mitchell eventually got the ball back on its own three-yard line with 1:49 to play, with backup quarterback Austin Kerr in the game after Kiel Nelson left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Kerr promptly completed four of his first five passes and added a 10-yard run to move the ball to the Harrisburg 30.
An option pitch to Max with 39 seconds left netted a gain inside the 20, but was called back on a holding penalty that the Kernel coaching staff found questionable. On the next play, Kerr's pass was tipped by a Harrisburg defender and Max attempted to scoop it off the turf, but an official on the opposite side of the field ruled the play incomplete and Mitchell was never able to move the ball further.
"You've got to put yourself in a position to take it out of the hands (of the officials)," VanOverschelde said. "You've got to control what you can control. ... You've got make plays and play four quarters."
Kitchens finished with 26 attempts for 66 yards and Max had 13 attempts for 36 yards. Kerr went 4 of 8 for 59 yards for Mitchell (3-5), which ends the regular season at Spearfish on Thursday.
Teigen went 8 of 24 passing for 224 yards, three touchdowns and an interception for Harrisburg (5-3).
M: Carson Max 1 run (Trevor Lambert kick)
H: Michael Hybertson 40 pass from Jack Teigen (Will Simmons kick)
M: Drew Kitchens 6 run (Lambert kick)
M: Lambert 28 field goal
H: Jhei Roewart 58 pass from Teigen (Simmons kick)
H: Isaac Brower 53 pass from Teigen (Simmons kick)
RUSHING (ATT-YDS): H: Anders Clayton 5-38, Jacob Just 5-21, Jack Teigen 10-6, Team 1-(-2); M: Drew Kitchens 26-66, Carson Max 13-36, Kiel Nelson 7-29, Austin Kerr 6-9.
PASSING (C-A-INT-YDS): H: Teigen 8-24-1-224; M: Kerr 4-8-0-59, Nelson 1-4-1-0.
RECEIVING (REC-YDS): H: Isaac Brower 2-77, Jhei Roewart 2-75, Michael Hybertson 2-58, Cale Murphy 2-14; M: Payton Olson 2-15, Max 1-23, Kitchens 1-17, Koby Larson 1-4.