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Gregory headed to DakotaDome

GREGORY--11-0 and one to go. Gregory booked its ticket to the Class 9AA state championship game at the DakotaDome in Vermillion with a 44-7 win over Stanley County on Saturday. Gregory (11-0) will play Webster Area (11-0) in the state title game ...

Gregory's Caleb Stukel (17) breaks up a pass intended for Stanley County's Cutter Gillaspie on Saturday in Gregory. Gregory's Triv Vosika (24) and Stanley County's JD Carter (22) both go after the pass, which fell incomplete. (Ryan Deal/Republic)
Gregory's Caleb Stukel (17) breaks up a pass intended for Stanley County's Cutter Gillaspie on Saturday in Gregory. Gregory's Triv Vosika (24) and Stanley County's JD Carter (22) both go after the pass, which fell incomplete. (Ryan Deal/Republic)

GREGORY-11-0 and one to go.

Gregory booked its ticket to the Class 9AA state championship game at the DakotaDome in Vermillion with a 44-7 win over Stanley County on Saturday. Gregory (11-0) will play Webster Area (11-0) in the state title game at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.

"It feels so awesome," Gregory junior Jayd VanDerWerff said about advancing to the title game. "We have one more and we are going 12-0. That is our main goal."

The Gorillas moved one step closer to their main goal on Saturday with a convincing win over the Buffaloes, who were riding high after their quarterfinal win over defending state champs Wolsey-Wessington.

"They are a good football team," Gregory coach Brian Allmendinger said about Stanley County. "They are playing really good and we knew we were going to have a hard game ahead of us."

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Gregory was clinging to an 8-7 lead early in the second quarter before it blew the game open. The Gorillas added two touchdowns before halftime to pull ahead 22-7 at the break.

Gregory's final second quarter touchdown was a backbreaker for the Buffaloes. Stanley County drove into Gregory territory, but was stopped shot on a fourth-down play. Gregory then marched down the field and VanDerWerff punched one in from seven yards out to make it a two touchdown game with 16 seconds left in the half.

"It put it up by another touchdown and we just had some fun going into our locker room," VanDerWerff said.

The fun continued in the second half. The Gorillas received the ball to start the second half and they added another touchdown on the first series to go ahead 30-7. It spelled the beginning of the end for Stanley County.

"We got a little momentum and then came out the second half right away and got one right there, too," Allmendinger said. "Then we knew that we had control of it."

Gregory quarterback Andy McCance accounted for three second-half rushing touchdowns and torched the Buffaloes all day with his scrambling ability. The junior finished with 128 rushing yards, 221 passing yards and two passing touchdowns.

"We could run," McCance said. "We could pass. We came out here and we were motivated."

McCance completed 14 of his 16 pass attempts.

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"He was just spot on and he was really excited about this football game and he wanted to get an opportunity to play for a championship and his play showed that tonight," Allmendinger said.

VanDerWerff was McCance's top target on the night. He finished with eight receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns.

"Me and him have a good connection on and off the field and we just work on that stuff and it pays off," said VanDerWerff, who added 108 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown.

Stanley County, which finishes it season 8-3, was led by Riley Hannum's 78 passing yards on 10-for-19 attempts. Hannum threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Cutter Gillaspie for Stanley County's only touchdown.

Other then that, Gregory shut down Stanley County and its top rushing threat Trey Montana, who finished with 25 rushing yards.

JJ Beck powered Gregory's defense with 13 tackles (three for loss) and one sack. Tyler Murray and Chase Thomas each had a sack.

"They have been playing so good all year and that is kind of the way they play," Allmendinger said about the defense. "They bend a little bit and typically won't give up that home run, which is so huge."

The Gorillas will now turn their attention to the Bearcats, who defeated Baltic 38-28 in the other Class 9AA semifinal on Saturday.

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"It is going to be a great game and I can't wait for it," McCance said. "One more."

SC 0 7 0 0-7

G 8 14 14 8-44

Scoring Summary

First quarter

G: Jayd VanDerWerff 5 run (McCance run)

Second quarter

SC: Cutter Gillaspie 24 pass from Riley Hannum (Chad Whitley kick)

G: VanDerWerff 34 run (Joseph Veskrna from McCance)

G: VanDerWerff 7 pass from McCance (pass failed)

Third quarter

G: McCance 1 run (Jon Bakke pass from McCance)

G: McCance 51 run (pass failed)

Fourth quarter

G: McCance 1 run (Bakke pass from McCance)

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