VERMILLION – Pierre outscored Harrisburg 10-0 in the fourth quarter and got a key takeaway with a minute to go to post a 24-21 win in the Class 11AA State Football championship game Friday night at the DakotaDome.
The Tigers’ Hunter Headlee hit Brooks Fuller for a 26-yard pickup to the Governors’ 29-yard-line on fourth-and-21 to keep his team in it.
However, on the next play, Matt Rounds knocked the ball out of Headlee’s hand as he was attempting to throw and Austin Senger recovered the fumble to seal the deal.
Peyton Zabel hooked up with Mike Lusk for a 24-yard touchdown with 10:01 remaining in the game and Casey Williams converted his third PAT kick of the game to pull Pierre even at 21-all.
Senger later blocked a punt to set the Governors up with a short field and Williams booted what proved to be the game-winning field goal – a 31-yarder – with 5:48 showing on the clock.
Harrisburg outgained Pierre 373-215 in total yards of offense, including a 195-19 advantage on the ground, and possessed the ball for more than 28 1/2 minutes.
Zabel finished 13-of-22 for 196 yards with two TDs and an INT for Pierre (9-3). Both of Lusk’s receptions went to the end zone as he totaled 85 yards.
For the Tigers (7-5), Headlee was 9-of-20 for 178 yards with a TD and an INT while rushing for 67 yards and a score. Jack Anderson picked up 82 yards and a score on the ground, while Jhei Roewart ran twice for 59 yards. Brooks Fuller totaled 99 yards on four catches.
Headlee found Jack Rabern for a 24-yard touchdown toss in the first quarter. The first of Jon White’s three PAT kicks made it 7-0.
Anderson’s 2-yard plunge 5 seconds into the second made it 14-0.
Zabel connected with Lusk for a 61-yard score 2 minutes later to get the Govs on the board.
Headlee later capped a 16-play drive with a 2-yard plunge to paydirt that made it 21-7.
Pierre quickly answered as Garrett Stout returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to the house to pull the Governors within 21-14 at halftime.
Harrisburg beat Pierre 25-20 in the regular-season matchup this season.
Pierre won its second 11AA title in four chances – the other came in 2013.
Harrisburg dropped to 4-7 in the ‘Dome. The Tigers fell to Mitchell 41-6 in last season’s final.
• Sioux Falls Christian 27, Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan 12
The Chargers’ Parker Nelson broke 11B title game records for rushing yards (253) and attempts (40) while scoring one touchdown as Sioux Falls Christian won the first football championship in school history with the defeat of the Seahawks.
The Chargers (11-1) began their football program in 2009 and were making their first appearance in the finals.
Tyler Van Horssen, who totaled 75 yards on nine carries, had TD runs of 15 yards in the first quarter and 12 yards in the second to put Christian ahead 12-0 at halftime.
BEE’s Brady Hawkins picked off a pass and returned in 35 yards to the Charger 39-yard-line, before connecting with Dustin Weber for a 27-yard completion.
Two plays later, Jamin Arend cut the deficit in half with a 5-yard scoring scamper with 3:29 to go in the third.
Van Horssen stopped a Seahawk drive with a pick in the fourth quarter. Dawson Mulder’s 1-yard plunge followed by his pass to Mitchell Goodbary for the two-point conversion put Christian ahead 20-6 with 6:36 remaining in the game.
The Chargers recovered an on-side kick soon thereafter; however, their next drive ended with a punt.
Hawkins had completions of 39 yards to Arend and 36 yards to Derek Storm to move the ball to the 2. Arend ran into the end zone two plays later to cut the deficit to 20-12.
After recovering the onside kick, Nelson sealed the deal with a 29-yard touchdown rush. Elijah Bird kicked the PAT.
The Chargers broke 11B title game records for rushing yards (358) and rushing attempts (65).
Christian’s Jacob Just was 1-of-3 for 14 yards with two INTs.
For BEE (9-3), Hawkins was 4-of-5 for 108 yards with an INT. The Seahawks were limited to 173 yards of offense. Arend ran for 43 yards and two scores, and had two receptions covering 45 yards.
Bridgewater-Emery Ethan, which won Class 9AA titles in 2010, 2011 and 2013, was making its ‘Dome debut as an 11-man squad.
Sioux Falls Christian’s lone loss was a 21-14 setback at Sioux Valley on Sept. 15.