BROOKINGS – The second-ranked Bobcats were dominant in their home opener on a damp Friday night at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, beating Sturgis 53-13 to improve to 3-0.
Brookings overcame a slow start, turning a 6-0 first-quarter lead into a 34-7 advantage at halftime.
“There were times where we were pretty sloppy but, I mean, overall, with it being our first home game and it kind of being – everything is different this year,” said BHS assistant coach Robb McClemans. “For the kids, normally once you come to your first home game it’s kind of back to what you’re familiar with – different locker room, different leave time, how we got here – everything was different.
“So, just proud of the kids and being able to keep working through some of this adversity that’s being thrown on them.
“I’m happy for the seniors, obviously, with it being Senior Night. You only get so many opportunities to play at home in front of a crowd – whether it’s limited or bigger.
“But it was one of those where we’re new – we’re new as a coaching staff; we have new guys at some key spots. Even though we’ve started out the year 3-0, we have so many things to clean up.
“We’re happy when we get to play, just because it kind of emphasizes some of those things and we’re able to, you know, make that a point of emphasis for the next week and kind of keep improving game by game.”
Brookings came up with a big play on Sturgis’ third offensive possession to open the scoring.
Sam Hardin picked off a pass and returned it 14 yards to the 1-yard-line.
Quarterback Jaxon Bowes plunged in on the next play at the 4:27 mark of the first quarter.
The Bobcats put up a 28-spot in the second period.
Tyson Brandt capped a nine-play, 65-yard drive with a 4-yard scoring scamper. Payton Theodosopoulos’ PAT kick made it 13-0. Bowes had a 33-yard completion on third-and-long early in the drive.
Jackson Krogman came up with an interception near midfield and returned it to the 25. On second-and-goal from the 18, Bowes connected with Josh Buri for a TD, pushing the margin to 20-0.
Buri found paydirt on a 29-yard rush at the 2:21 mark and, after Gavin Fixsen intercepted a pass in Scooper territory, Bowes threaded the needle for a 14-yard scoring toss to Keegan Fields with 45 seconds showing on the clock. That put the ‘Cats ahead 34-0.
Sturgis had the first of its two big plays after that as Kaden Phillips caught a 40-yard TD toss from Tanner Ortlieb with 7 seconds to go.
Buri (52 yards) and Hunter Gray (14) sandwiched touchdown runs around Bowes’ 9-yard scoring pass to Cade McKeown in the third as the hosts opened up a 53-7 advantage. The clock went into run mode following the McKeown score.
Sturgis returned the ensuing kickoff 77 yards. Phillips had a 9-yard TD run with 11:19 to go.
Buri ran for three scores.
Bowes threw for a trio of TDs while adding the rushing touchdown.
“Obviously, confidence is a big thing, especially for high school kids,” said McClemans when asked how the game might help get Bowes going through the air. “We can practice all we want and make throws. Jaxon is a kid who at times makes them and at times misses a little bit here and there.
“We’ve run the ball so well to start the year – (Sturgis) came out and put six, seven, eight guys in the box at times and tried to play man-to-man. We have a lot of really good athletes, so the good news is when teams do that we’re going to have to find other ways to win.
“We’re not going to be able to just hand the ball off to our backs and win each time. We have to give our line a chance – they can’t block seven guys at a time.
“So figuring out different ways to be successful is definitely going to be important for us and that was something that we talked about.
“As we implemented a new offense, I know Coach (Jacolby) Anderson wanted to kind of go slowly so we were comfortable with what we were doing. And now each week you’re going to see add-ons of the variations, whether it’s just passing or spreading it out and running in different looks. So Coach Anderson is kind of implementing a little bit more each week and giving him a little bit more freedom. We know that by the end of the year that’s what we’re going to need to be where we want to by the end.”
Theodosopoulos was 5-of-6 on PAT kicks.
Brookings plays Madison for Homecoming on Friday at 7 p.m.
Sturgis (0-3), which was outscored a combined 53-0 its first two games, heads to Douglas.
BROOKINGS 53, STURGIS 13
Sturgis 0 7 0 6 – 13
Brookings 6 28 19 0 – 53
B – Jaxon Bowes 1 run (kick failed), 4:27
B – Tyson Brandt 4 run (Payton Theodosopoulos kick), 9:18
B – Josh Buri 18 pass from Bowes (Theodosopoulos kick), 6:25
B – Buri 29 run (Theodosopoulos kick), 2:21
B – Keegan Fields 14 pass from Bowes (Theodosopoulos kick), :45
S – Kaden Phillips 40 pass from Tanner Ortlieb (Brodie Eisenbraun kick), :07
B – Buri 52 run (failed), 10:10
B – Cole McKeown 9 pass from Bowes (failed), 6:39
B – Hunter Gray 14 run (Theodosopoulos kick), :09
S – Phillips 9 run (kick blocked), 11:19
Elsewhere in Class 11AA
Yankton (3-0) outscored three-time defending champion Pierre (2-1) 23-0 in the second half for a 52-29 victory.
Huron (2-1) dropped Douglas (1-2) 36-0 at home.
Mitchell (2-0) plays host to Spearfish (0-2) on Saturday.
See more on this story in Monday’s print edition of the Register.