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Pierre wins fifth-straight Class 11AA crown on 40-yard game-winning field goal

The No. 3 Pierre Governors defeated the No. 1 Tea Area Titans, 30-27, in the Class 11AA title game.

Pierre quarterback Lincoln Kienholz runs past a would-be tackler from Tea Area during the Class 11AA high school football championship game Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion. (South Dakota Public Broadcasting photo)
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VERMILLION — Third-seeded Pierre came back from a 20-point second half deficit to win its fifth-straight Class 11AA championship, walking off the game on a 40-yard field goal by Cole Peterson as time expired to defeat No. 1 Tea Area, 30-27, Friday night at the DakotaDome.

In completing the five-peat, Pierre (10-2) became only the second team in South Dakota high school football history to win at least that many championships consecutively, joining West Central (2000-05), which won six in a row and 10 of 12 in Class 11A between 1996 and 2007.

The Titans (11-1) were chasing back-to-back titles and their first in Class 11AA after moving up from Class 11A.

Early on, it looked like the Titans were poised to run away with that championship, as they scored on each of their first two possessions and recovered two Pierre fumbles in the first quarter, including one on the opening kickoff return, on its way to a 27-7 lead early in the second half.

But the four-time defending champion Governors weren’t going out without a proper fight.


Led by two passing touchdowns from Lincoln Kienholz to Jett Zabel — one from 48 yards and the other from 35 — and Kienholz’s second rushing touchdown of the evening, Pierre stormed back to tie the game with less than 3 1/2 minutes remaining. Then, Jacob Mayer made a diving interception along the sideline, setting up the game-winning drive and field goal.

Pierre was paced by Kienholz, the Joe Robbie MVP and most outstanding back, who passed for 347 yards and added 190 more on the ground, accounting for all four Governor touchdowns. Jack Merkwan hauled in four passes for 121 yards, and Zabel also went over the century mark in receiving yards with 113 on three receptions.

Chase Van Tol racked up 116 rushing yards and 76 receiving yards for Tea Area, as Cael Lundin completed 11 of 25 passes for 262 yards and accounted for all four Titan touchdowns. Jaxon Weber caught two passes for 56 yards and a touchdown to go with 31 yards rushing.

Dierks covers prep and collegiate athletics across the Mitchell Republic's coverage region area, focusing on Mitchell High School football and boys basketball and area high school football, volleyball and basketball, as well as Dakota Wesleyan women's basketball. He was also the lead on the Mitchell Republic Gridiron Spotlight, producing video and providing live play-by-play for the traveling weekly prep football broadcast during its first season in the fall of 2021. Dierks is a Mitchell native who graduated from South Dakota State University with his bachelor's degree in journalism in May 2020. He joined the Mitchell Republic sports staff in August 2021. He can be reached at ldierks@mitchellrepublic.com and found on Twitter at @LDierksy.
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