Kernels humbled by Huron in home finale
Mitchell High School spent most of Thursday’s loss to Huron looking for a spark that never showed up.
The Class 11AA No. 5-ranked Kernels had multiple opportunities to take control throughout the game, but when game-changing plays arose in pivotal situations — including with Mitchell down by six points heading to the fourth quarter — almost all of them went in favor of the Tigers.
The Tigers capitalized to score the final 21 points in a 34-13 win at Joe Quintal Field, handing Mitchell its sixth consecutive loss to end the regular season. With the win, Huron clinched the No. 5 seed in the Class 11AA playoffs, while the Kernels will be seeded sixth and travel to Pierre on Oct. 30. Undefeated Brookings and Yankton will be the top-two seeds, respectively, in the Class 11AA bracket.
“We were kind of waiting for something to happen instead of making things happen,” MHS head coach Kent Van Overschelde said. “We came up short on some drives early, (Huron) was able to complete some passes and put some points up. … We were waiting for that big thing to happen and Huron was able to stay consistent.”
Mitchell (3-6) had little trouble moving the ball on offense, punting twice all game, but an inability to finish extended drives proved costly.
The Kernels forced a Huron punt on the opening possession and drove to the Tiger 13-yard line, only for the drive to end scoreless following a fourth-down pass that bounced off the chest of a leaping Parker Phillips in the end zone.
Huron (4-5) proceeded to march 87 yards, scoring on a 44-yard pass from Cade McNeil to Jayden Beck to take a 6-0 lead. Just four plays later, Tucker Vilhauer answered with a 47-yard touchdown run to get Mitchell on the board early in the second quarter, putting Mitchell up 7-6.
Trailing 13-7 to begin the second half, Mitchell once again embarked on a long drive, reaching the Huron 8, before two fumbled snaps once again ended a once-promising drive without points. The Kernels would force a McNeil fumble moments later and Vilhauer scored his second touchdown of the night to tie the game, but an opportunity to shift momentum was lost.
“We bent, but we didn’t break,” Huron head coach Scott Spanton said. “We gave up some yardage, but in the long run, we made some key stops and kept the momentum on our side in the second half.”
While Mitchell struggled to maintain momentum, Huron was dynamic in critical situations. The Tigers converted 10 of 13 on third down attempts in the game and held the Kernels to 3-for-9 on third downs and 0-for-4 on fourth down conversions.
Following Mitchell’s game-tying touchdown, Huron regained the lead on the ensuing possession, thanks to an 18-yard touchdown by Beck. Trying to answer, the Kernels were stopped on third-and-short and opted to punt on fourth-and-1 with less than 10 minutes to play.
For most of the season, Mitchell relied heavily upon Phillips in such situations, but he finished the game with 11 total touches on offense and spent most of the first half lined up as a slot receiver.
“It’s all relative to what we’re trying to accomplish and the rhythm of the game,” Van Overschelde said. “We wanted to get (Phillips) a few more touches and Josh (Grosdidier) was pretty effective, but tonight, we just didn’t seem to be operating at the efficiency we needed.”
The Tigers, however, relied on McNeil -- who finished 10 of 13 for 169 yards and three touchdowns -- and the play-making quarterback capped the ensuing 11-play drive with a third-down scoring strike to Max Krenzler to push the lead to 14 with just over 5 minutes left in the game.
“(Third down) is something we’ve not been very good at,” Spanton said. “That was good to see tonight to turn that around a little bit. Kids responded, bowed up and came back in the second half to play pretty well.”
Tyson Lien ran for 151 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts, while Beck had 112 yards from scrimmage and two scores for Huron, which has taken the last two games in the rivalry after dropping the previous five to the Kernels..
Vilhauer ran for 125 yards on 16 attempts, while Phillips had 59 yards on 10 carries for Mitchell.
Huron 34, Mitchell 13
H: Jayden Beck 44 pass from Cade McNeil (Pass failed)
M: Tucker Vilhauer 47 run (Trenton Regan kick)
H: Carter Hott 40 pass from McNeil (Aung Min kick)
M: VIlhauer 2 run (Kick failed)
H: Beck 18 run (Kick failed)
H: Max Kranzler 8 pass from McNeil (Derick Siemonsma pass from McNeil)
H: Tyson Lien 23 run (Min kick)
RUSHING (ATT-YDS): M: Tucker Vilhauer 16-125, Parker Phillips 10-59, Josh Grosdidier 9-49, Joe Van Overschelde 1-2, Team 1-(-1), Total 37-234. H: Tyson Lien 26-151, Jayden Beck 10-68, Cade McNeil 4-24, Jackson Mattke 1-6, Team 2-(-2), Total 43-247.
PASSING (A-C-INT-YDS-TD): M: Vilhauer 9-3-0-15-0. H: McNeil 13-10-0-169-3.
RECEIVING (REC-YDS): M: Jace Larson 1-11, Van Overschelde 1-3, Phillips 1-1. H: Max Kranzler 3-36, Carter Hott 2-50, Colby Hott 2-22, Derick Siemonsma 2-17, Jayden Beck 1-44.