Kernel Film Room: Quarriers gash Mitchell up the middle on go-ahead TD
With the game in the balance, Dell Rapids attacked the heart of the Mitchell High School defense on Friday.
For most of the night, the Class 11AA No. 4 Kernels did not give much ground on runs up the middle. It was sweeps and reverses to the outside that the Class 11A No. 2 Quarriers did most of their damage. Mitchell began to grow wary of such runs and Dell Rapids capitalized.
The Kernels took a 22-8 lead on an 89-yard touchdown run by Tucker Vilhauer with 3 minutes, 51 seconds left in the third quarter. They appeared ready to blow the game open, but when the Quarriers lined up for their next offensive play, they sent Logan Von Holtum up the gut for 66 yards to set up a touchdown.
On the next drive, Dell Rapids continued to pound runs into the middle of the defense, racking up yards in chunks until Coby Maeschen battered his way into the end zone for the go-ahead score to stun the Kernels 23-22.
“We had trouble with it one time in the first quarter and then we were able to stop it,” MHS head coach Kent Van Overschelde said. “In the second half, it was definitely (Dall Rapids’) go-to. It’s all about our guys getting too deep into the backfield and getting washed down. They were playing the sweep and forgot about the dive.”
A reverse to Logan Ruesink resulted in a 55-yard touchdown in the first half, so when Dell Rapids lined up at its own 35 yard line in the fourth quarter, Ruesink came in motion. But quarterback Austin Henry subtly handed to Maeschen and the fullback broke through the Mitchell defensive line for a 20-yard gain before anyone realized he had the ball.
The following play was a repeat performance, with Ruesink faking a sweep and Maeschen barging through the middle for 10 yards, putting the Mitchell defense on its heels and ripping away momentum.
“Any time you can break off a 10-15-yard run, it gives you confidence,” Dell Rapids head coach Jordan Huska said. “The kids were feeling confident at that point. Any time you get closer and closer to the goal line, it gets harder to score. Our guys knew they had to build it big to finish it off.”
On the first run, defensive end Nick Rubendall came across the face of the tight end rather than moving down across the left tackle. This allowed the tackle and the guard to move freely to the second level for an easy double-team on linebacker Joe Van Overschelde and forced fellow linebacker Jake Helleloid to take an unwanted angle.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Beau Schoenfelder bit on the fake and had a fistful of Ruesink’s jersey as Maeschen ran by. On the outside, linebacker Josh Grosdidier anticipated a run by Ruesink in his direction and stayed wide on the formation rather than pinching down to stop the inside run.
The next play once again saw Mitchell biting on the fake to Ruesink. As the defense flowed toward the left, where Ruesink was running, Maeschen cut back to the opposite side and took advantage of the overpursuit.
By the time Maeschen took a run 7 yards for a score, the damage had already been done for the drive. Maeschen totaled 37 yards on four attempts on the touchdown drive, while 66 of Von Holtum’s 70 yards came on one run. The Kernels limited Dell Rapids fullbacks to 12 yards on 11 carries the rest of the game.
“Those things are demoralizing,” Van Overschelde said. “... We just decided that we were going to look for the counter instead of looking for the heels of the linemen to settle in and close those gaps down. (Dell Rapids) was able to release and get on top of our linebackers.”