A 49-yard halfback pass. Then a 36-yard sprint. And a 24-yard first-and-goal conversion.
Tea Area used big plays early in the second half and scored 40 unanswered points to lead Class 11AA’s top-ranked Titans past Mitchell 47-14 on Friday night at Joe Quintal Field.
The Kernels led 14-7 at halftime, but the Titans made the right adjustments and marched to their fourth win of the season.
“We got to where we weren’t executing anywhere at any level that we were in the first half,” Mitchell coach Kent VanOverschelde said. “Finding what’s separating us from everybody else is that ability to finish football games.”
Trailing by 7, Tea Area scored on all four of its third-quarter possessions.
Tea’s offensive power really began 1 minute, 1 second into the quarter when fullback Chase Van Tol tricked the Kernel defense and hit Klayton Sattler for the long touchdown. That tied the game at 14.
“Such a swing of momentum,” VanOverschelde said.
After a three-and-out for Mitchell — which moved the ball well in the first half with its running attack — Tea’s Blake Thompson gave his team its first lead on a long TD run to quickly cap a three-play drive.
The next play from scrimmage, Mitchell turned the ball over on a backward pass, and then Titans’ quarterback Cael Lundin found Nathan Babb on first-and-goal from the 24-yard line for a 13-point lead.
“We didn’t change anything, but we said we needed to start playing with a little heart and enthusiasm,” said Tea Area coach Craig Clayberg, whose team scored twice more in the fourth quarter. “Guys came out and responded.”
The Kernels’ defense couldn’t get a stop in the second half, and the offense lost its footing it had in the first. Mitchell recorded 171 yards of total offense before the break. By the end of the game, its total was 148.
The biggest play of the first half was a touchdown from Treyson Schulz to Lukas Bennett, who two plays earlier caught a 13-yard reception on fourth-and-10 to keep the drive alive. After the big conversion, Schulz dropped a perfect pass to Bennett down the right sideline to score with 7 seconds left.
Mitchell senior running back Josh Grosdidier had 80 yards on 14 carries in the first half. He carried the ball seven straight times for 38 yards, spanning two drives, to open the game for the Kernels. But Mitchell couldn’t score until its third possession, when the senior running back patiently followed his blockers to the left to score with 8:41 left in the second quarter.
Tea Area answered in what seemed to be a blink of an eye on a nine-play, 68-yard drive. Sattler caught a zip of a pass from Lundin near the edge of the out-of-bounds line to tie the game at 7.
Tea Area had 112 yards of total offense in the first half but finished with 417. Lundin was 6-of-12 passing for 104 yards and two touchdowns, while Van Tol 14 carries for 92 yards on the ground. The Titans had four players with at least 50 yards rushing.
Grosdidier finished with 85 yards on the ground for Mitchell, and Schulz 7-of-13 passing for 70 yards.
“We’re going to go back to work and find that next level and pour some gas on it and see if we can make some things happen going forward,” VanOverschelde said.
Mitchell (1-3) has lost three straight after beating Spearfish to open the season. The Kernels travel to Brookings on Friday.