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Mistakes plague Mitchell: No. 3 Harrisburg squeaks past No. 2 Kernels

HARRISBURG -- The Mitchell High School football team took a step backwards on Friday. Controversy surrounded the lone touchdown scored in the Class 11AA state championship rematch, but the No. 2 Kernels doomed themselves for the second straight w...

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Mitchell’s Jordan Dirkes, left, tackles Harrisburg's Jack Rabern during an Eastern South Dakota Conference football game on Friday in Harrisburg. Also pictured is Mitchell's Max Schoenfelder, right. (Eric Mayer / Republic)

HARRISBURG -- The Mitchell High School football team took a step backwards on Friday.

Controversy surrounded the lone touchdown scored in the Class 11AA state championship rematch, but the No. 2 Kernels doomed themselves for the second straight week with turnovers and penalties.

The Mitchell mistakes made the difference in the Eastern South Dakota Conference defensive battle as No. 3 Harrisburg earned a 7-3 victory at Tiger Stadium in Harrisburg.

"The biggest difference was they made some plays tonight on the offensive side and we didn't on the offensive side," MHS head coach Kent VanOverschelde said. "We had our opportunities. Our biggest opponent again was ourselves and that's something we need to work through."

After Trevor Lambert's 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter put Mitchell ahead 3-0, the Kernel defense forced another Harrisburg punt. Two plays into the drive, a Kernel fumble gave the ball to the Tigers inside the red zone.

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The Mitchell defense held, forcing a 4th-and-4, but Harrisburg scored on a 10-yard touchdown pass by Troy Knecht to Brooks Fuller. Fuller had control of the ball in midair, but after he fell to the ground the ball came loose. The officials, after a brief meeting, said the touchdown stood.

"The official saw what he saw. Last thing I want is our group of guys to be victims," VanOverschelde said. "We have to control what we can control and we have to move forward."

Carson Max, who led Mitchell's defense with 15 tackles, said Mitchell's defense did all it could as the Kernels held Harrisburg to 112 total yards (52 rushing and 60 passing).

"The defensive line gets all the credit and you can't ask for more from the defense," Max said. "It was a rough offensive night, but we'd rather have that now than later. We're not going to complain."

The lone Tiger touchdown proved to be enough as Harrisburg held Mitchell to 56 yards rushing and 91 yards passing for 147 total yards of offense. Mitchell also committed three turnovers (two interceptions and one fumble) and had nine penalties for 78 yards, while going 3-of-16 on third down.  

"We just played sound defense and our kids executed our gameplan perfectly," Harrisburg head coach Brandon White said. "We knew had to be physical at the point of attack. We knew we wouldn't score a ton of points. We hoped we'd score enough and that's how it worked out."  

White said capitalizing on the Mitchell fumble was huge and didn’t see the touchdown as controversial.

"Our quarterback made a good throw and our receiver went and got it," White said. "We put our guys in a position to make a play."  

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Mitchell had chances to cut into Harrisburg’s lead or reclaim the lead, but couldn’t find a way to score in the second half. The best chance came early in the fourth quarter, when the Kernels moved the ball down to Harrisburg's 10-yard line. On fourth down, a fake field goal pass fell incomplete in the end zone and repeated chances to put together a game-winning drive fell short.

"I'm very proud of our defense," VanOverschelde said. "Offensively, we battled, but weren't very productive and that's on me as the offensive coach. We'll work and get better. Give Harrisburg credit, they found a way to win."

Kiel Nelson led Mitchell with 13 carries for 20 yards, while completing 7-of-21 passes for 91 yards. Drew Kitchens had 15 carries for 15 yards and Jordan Dirkes hauled in two catches for 40 yards.

For Harrisburg, Jack Anderson rushed for 52 yards on 22 carries, while Knecht went 6-of-15 for 60 yards and a touchdown.

"We have a lot more football left," Max said. "I hope this sets a fire underneath all of us. It's a new season from this point forward."

Mitchell (5-3) hosts Spearfish at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Joe Quintal Field, while Harrisburg (5-3) plays at Yankton on Thursday.

Mitchell 0 3 0 0 -- 3

Harrisburg 0 7 0 0 -- 7

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Scoring summary

Second quarter

M: Trevor Lambert 31 field goal

H: Brooks Fuller 10 pass from Troy Knecht (Jon White kick)

RUSHING: M: Kiel Nelson 13-20, Drew Kitchens 15-15, Carson Max 4-12, Austin Kerr 6-9, Briggs Havlik 1-1; H: Jack Anderson 22-52, Sam Loos 2-10, Jack Rabern 4-1, Jhei Roewart 1-(-3), Troy Knecht 7-(-8);

PASSING: M: 7-21-91-2, Havlik 0-1-0-0; H: Knecht 6-15-60-0;

RECEIVING: M: Jordan Dirkes 2-40, Tate Larson 2-5, Kerr 1-24, Kitchens 1-17, Havlik 1-5; H: Roewart 2-42, Anderson 2-(-1), Fuller 1-10, Loos 1-9;

TACKLES: M: Max 15, Max Schoenfelder 10, Havlik 7.

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Mitchell’s D.J. Krogamn, center, tries to get to Harrisburg quarterback Troy Knecht, right, during an Eastern South Dakota Conference football game on Friday in Harrisburg. Blocking for Harrisburg is Jacob Larsen (76). (Eric Mayer / Republic)

Related Topics: KERNELSFOOTBALL
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