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Big offense helps Gregory pull away from Lyman, earn trip to Class 9A title game

Gregory’s 21-point second quarter highlighted an offense explosion led by quarterback Rylan Peck and running back Kade Stukel.

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Gregory senior Owen Hansen (3) and Lyman senior Teagan Gourneau (5) collide during the Class 9A semifinals on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Presho.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic
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PRESHO, S.D. — After a neck-and-neck first quarter, it was all Gregory.

The third-seeded Gorillas scored the final 35 points of the game Friday night, rolling to a 41-6 win over No. 2-seed Lyman to clinch a spot in the Class 9A state championship game next week.

Gregory’s 21-point second quarter highlighted an offense explosion led by quarterback Rylan Peck and running back Kade Stukel. Peck went 6-for-9 through the air for 172 yards with a trio of scores, one of which was a 60-yard strike to Stukel.

“That long pass was pretty fun,” Stukel, who finished with three catches for 109 yards, said of his touchdown grab. “Just connecting with your quarterback, … but it couldn’t have been done without all of us.”

The catch was one of three touchdowns Stukel accounted for on the day — the other two came on the ground as a part of his nine carries for 58 yards. Owen Hansen chipped in a pair of touchdowns for the Gorillas as well, with one on the ground and one through the air, while Eli Fogel caught Peck’s third passing touchdown.

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“He’s improved so much this year,” Stukel said of his quarterback. “Just connecting with everyone, it wins you games.”

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Gregory senior Owen Hansen (3) runs the ball down field during the Class 9A semifinals against the Lyman Raiders on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022, in Presho.
Adam Thury / Mitchell Republic

The Gorillas hit on big plays and dominated the third-down battle all night long. They were 7-for-10 on third downs, including a perfect 6-for-6 showing in the first half, while holding Lyman to 2-for-9 on third downs. Gregory also cashed in on four third downs of 8 yards or longer, two of which were touchdown plays.

“We've got some playmakers and we got some guys that can go deep. They've got to respect that speed that we have, which opens up a lot of stuff underneath,” Gregory coach Mike Murray said of being able to convert long third downs. “It really spreads that field out when we got our athletes in the field. We can get some space, hit some gaps and make some plays.”

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The Gregory Gorillas defeat the Lyman Raiders, 41-6.

For Lyman, Teagan Gourneau led the team offensively, going 9-for-16 passing for 124 yards and a score. Tance Wagner was the lone Raider to find the end zone, taking a 37-yard screen to the end zone to temporarily knot the game up at six. But Gregory’s defense held the Raiders to 20 rushing yards on 19 attempts and recovered a Lyman fumble. All told, the Raiders finished with 144 yards on 35 plays with six first downs.

“It’s nine guys to the ball all the time,” Murray said of his defense’s mentality. “We're aggressive, we pin our ears back, get after it and just really like to hit. We're just physical, come up and hit you in the mouth and try to get you on the ground and play smart.”

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Conversely, Gregory netted 336 yards on 46 plays with 20 first downs and had three plays of 30-plus yards.

“They’re just complete momentum swings,” Stukel, who accounted for two of the 30-plus yard plays, said of the big plays. “(It) gets us going, gets us hyped up, and that’s all we need. Once we’re rolling, we’re going.”

Lyman’s season comes to a close at 9-2 with the loss. The Gorillas (10-1) won three Class 9AA crowns in four years from 2014-17 and will be making their first trip back to Vermillion on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. for the first time since their 2017 win to take on Warner for the Class 9A state title.

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“At the beginning of the season, we sit down and we make goals as a team and one of those goals is to play 12 games and win the 12th,” Murray said. “We’ve got goals and that was one of them, and I’m very happy that we’re going to get the chance to get that one.”

Zech Lambert is a sports reporter for the Mitchell Republic. He graduated from Penn State University in May 2022 and began at the Mitchell Republic in July 2022. He can be reached at zlambert@mitchellrepublic.com or on Twitter @Zech_Lambert.
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