BROOKINGS -- Mitchell High School knew it had a tough test with the Class 11AA No. 2 Brookings defense, but the Kernels had no answers on Friday.
The Bobcats entered the game allowing 5.8 points per game and 67.4 yards per game on the ground and Class 11AA No. 3 Mitchell found out why firsthand at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
Brookings limited Mitchell to 219 yards of total offense and capitalized on four turnovers, while racking up 406 yards to stay unbeaten with a 41-7 win.
“Defensively, we had trouble with assignments and we had trouble tackling,” MHS head coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “You do that against good teams, they’re going to find a way to put points up early on you and Brookings did a really good job at that tonight.”
The Bobcats jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, taking advantage of some tackling miscues that led to a 19-yard run by Matt Girard on a fourth-and-8 play. Eventually, quarterback Tanner Shepardson found Preston Helmbolt on a diving touchdown grab to take a 13-0 advantage.
The Mitchell (3-3) defense appeared to settle in, forcing punts on its next two possessions, but a muffed punt led to another Brookings score and a 27-0 halftime deficit.
“We had opportunities to make sure that gap widen,” VanOverschelde said. “Mistakes and (Brookings) is a good football team. They’re going to make plays around that. I don’t think there was anything that Brookings did that we were unprepared for.
“In an effort to get our defensive line moving and making some plays, we were out of sync and didn’t communicate as well as we’re capable of,” VanOverschelde continued.”
On offense, the Kernels struggled to gain any rhythm throughout the course of the game. Tucker Vilhauer made a leaping interception in the second quarter and Mitchell moved into Brookings (6-0) territory for the only time in the first half, only for the drive to stall.
After racking up more than 300 yards on the ground against Yankton in Week 5, the Kernels were limited to 112 by the Bobcats on 2.8 yards per attempt, leading to nine punts in the game.
Parker Phillips was also held in check, with a season-low 21 yards on 19 carries and lost a fumble on an option pitch with room in front to run during the third quarter.
“We had missed assignments,” VanOverschelde said. “Every time we got something going, they seemed to have an answer. When you have that foundation of your defense with those big tackles, they were able to outflank us and close things down. We have to find a way to close that gap as we go forward.”
Mitchell eventually found success in the fourth quarter when Austin Kerr found Carter Jacobsen on a crossing route and tip-toed down the sideline for 65 yards, only to lose 15 on a sideline infraction on the bench.
Vilhauer would score the lone touchdown of the game at the end of the drive on a 5-yard run after replacing Kerr, who suffered a leg injury on a first-down run moments before and did not return.
Kerr finished 5 of 15 passing for 107 yards and an interception, while rushing for another 41 and is injury is not expected to be long term. Jacobsen also had four catches for 103 yards.
Carter Eidem ran for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 15 attempts and Girard added 68 yards and a score. Shepardson was 5 of 10 for 87 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He also had 64 yards rushing and a touchdown.
Mitchell returns home to face Sturgis at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11 at Joe Quintal Field. Brookings travels to Pierre on Oct. 11 for a battle of unbeatens.
B: Carter Eidem 2 run (Payton Theodosopoulos kick)
B: Preston Helmbolt 16 pass from Tanner Shepardson (kick failed)
B: Helmbolt 9 run (Theodosopoulos kick)
B: Shepardson 61 run (Theodosopoulos kick)
B: Eidem 45 run (Theodosopoulos kick)
B: Matt Girard 2 run (Theodosopoulos kick)
M: Tucker Vilhauer 5 run (Trevor Lambert kick)
PASSING (C-A-INT-YDS): M: Austin Kerr 5-15-1-107; B: Tanner Shepardson 5-10-1-87.
RUSHING (ATT-YDS): M: Austin Kerr 10-41, Nick Robinson 4-26, Parker Phillips 19-21, Carson Fahey 2-18, Josh Grosdidier 1-7, Tucker Vilhauer 1-5, Nick Lord, 1-(-3), Carter Jacobsen 1-(-3), Team 40-112; B: Carter Eidem 15-125, Matt Girard 11-68, Tanner Shepardson 4-64, Jackson Krogman 2-34, Cody Caraway 6-19, Preston Helmbolt 1-9, Cole McKeown 2-1, Team 1-0, Marcelo Herrara 1-(-1), Team 43-319.
RECEIVING (REC-YDS): M: Carter Jacobsen 4-103, Isaac Rew 1-4; B: Parker Rykhus 2-20, Jackson Krogman 1-28, Max Struck 1-23, Preston Helmbolt 1-16.