Kernels knock off No. 1 Bucks

All gas, no brake. That's the motto the Mitchell High School football team wanted to establish for the 2016 season, and on Friday night, against the two-time defending Class 11AA state champions, the Kernels lived up to their motto. No. 3 Mitchel...

Mitchell's Spencer Neugebauer (8) reaches across the goal line for a touchdown during a game against Yankton on Friday night at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell. (Matt Gade/Republic)

All gas, no brake.

That's the motto the Mitchell High School football team wanted to establish for the 2016 season, and on Friday night, against the two-time defending Class 11AA state champions, the Kernels lived up to their motto.

No. 3 Mitchell throttled No. 1 Yankton 35-6 in an Eastern South Dakota Conference clash at Joe Quintal Field.

"It was a good a team effort all around and we're a better football team than we were a week ago," MHS head coach Kent VanOverschelde said. "We want to get better each week and we want to play our style of football."

The Kernels (1-1) found a winning identity against the Bucks (1-1) and it revolved around senior running back Spencer Neugebauer. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound speedster scored four touchdowns (three rushing and one receiving) to power the Mitchell offense, which found its footing early against Yankton.


"We came out fired up and we knew last week, that wasn't our identity," said Neugebauer, who finished the game with 179 rushing yards on 23 carries. "Our line got that push that we needed and we spread it out more with the passing game."

It was a rocky start for the Kernel offense under sophomore Kiel Nelson, who started his first game as the Mitchell quarterback. On the game's first play from the line of scrimmage, Nelson's pass was intercepted by Yankton, giving the Bucks the ball in Kernel territory.

Mitchell's defense rose to the occasion and stopped Yankton on a fourth down and Nelson quickly bounced back, throwing a 14-yard strike to Neugebauer to give Mitchell an early 7-0 lead after a successful Seth Paulson extra point kick.

"Mitchell's physical up front and they just took it to us," Yankton head coach Arlin Likness said after the game. "They ran the ball when they wanted to."

After recovering a surprise onside kick, Mitchell took a 14-0 lead over Yankton when Sam Michels dove into the end zone on a four-yard touchdown run.

"It's awesome to beat the defending champions," said Mitchell offensive lineman Spencer Mohr said. "It was a total team effort."

Despite two more Nelson interceptions, the Bucks' offense struggled for yards against the Kernel defense. Yankton finally broke through late in the second quarter when Nate Stephenson found Casey Krejci on a 12-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing PAT was blocked by Carson Max to make the score 14-6 at halftime.

"We were in a good position at halftime and then we had some long drives and those are hard to overcome," said VanOverschelde, who credited the Kernels' defensive line for keeping pressure on Yankton's quarterback all game. "It was good to be on the positive side of those drives."


In the third quarter, Neugebauer capped off two seven-play, 60-plus yard drives with touchdown runs of 40 yards and five yards as the Kernels increased their lead to 28-6.

"He was running hard, running smart and playing like he wanted to win," Likness said about Neugebauer. "We didn't step up and fill well, we didn't pursuit the ball well. He knows how to get the end zone."

Neugebauer scored Mitchell's final touchdown on the night on a nine-yard carry early in the fourth quarter that put the score 35-6 and sealed the team's first win of the season.

"His patience and his explosiveness was on display," VanOverschelde said. "You get that change-up with Sam Michels, who also ran the ball well."

The Kernels finished the game with 297 yards of offense, rushing for 229 yards and passing for 68. Michels added nine carries for 38 yards and one touchdown, while Max had five carries for 14 yards. Nelson finished his debut going 4-of-8 passing for 68 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Neugebauer led Mitchell receivers with two catches for 42 yards, while Michels and Cody Reichelt each added a catch.

Defensively, Reichelt had eight tackles and a forced fumble, while Neugebauer and Max each added eight tackles. DJ Krogman and Briggs Havlik each recorded seven tackles in the win.

"The nice thing was defensively, we weren't gassed in the fourth quarter and that's been a problem for us in the past," VanOverschelde said. "I liked how we looked on the football field. We looked fresh."

Yankton finished the game with 142 yards of offense (102 rushing and 40 passing). Stephenson went 12-of-27 with 102 yards and one touchdown. He was sacked three times, while Caid Koletzky led the rushing attack with 41 yards on four carries.


Mitchell takes on Watertown (1-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Watertown Stadium.

NOTES: Jordan Dierks was named Mitchell's scout team player of the week.

Yankton 0 6 0 0 6

Mitchell 14 0 14 7 35

Scoring summary

First quarter

M: Kiel Nelson 14 pass to Spencer Neugebauer (Seth Paulson kick)

M: Sam Michels 4 run (Paulson kick)

Second quarter

Y: Nate Stephenson 12 pass to Casey Krejci (kick blocked)

Third quarter

M: Neugebauer 40 run (Paulson kick)

M: Neugebauer 5 run (Paulson kick)

Fourth quarter

M: Neugebauer 9 run (Paulson kick)

RUSHING: M: Spencer Neugebauer 23-179, Sam Michels 9-45, Carson Max 5-14, Drew Kitchens 5-11, Sabastian Antaya 2-1, Trevor Harms 1-(1), Kiel Nelson 1-(13); Y: Caid Koletzky 4-41, Nick Rokusek 7-11, Dylan Ishmael Lynde 2-8, Ray Wermers 2-0, Brandon Shuey 1-(2), Nate Stephenson 8-(18); PASSING: M: Nelson 4-8-28-1-3; Y: Stephenson 12-27-102-1-0; RECEIVING: M: Neugebauer 2-42-1, Cody Reichelt 1-16, Sam Michels 1-10; Y: Casey Krejci 4-55-1, Oakley Palmer 3-19, Wesley Privett 2-12, Ray Wermers 1-8, Rex Ryken 1-7, Michael Heine 1-1; TACKLES: M: Reichelt 8, Neugebauer 8, Max 8, DJ Krogman 7, Briggs Havlik 7.

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