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2021 11AA Football - Pierre vs. Tea Area

Pierre Wins Fifth Straight Title In 11AA Thriller
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Pierre Tops Tea Area On Final Field Goal
Josh Jurgens | South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Pierre won their fifth straight state football championship on Friday night in Vermillion with a 30-27 thriller against Tea Area. Governors kicker Cole Peterson was the hero kicking a 40-yard game winning field goal as time expired.

It was a nightmare beginning for the Governors as Jett Zabel fumbled the opening kickoff, which was recovered by Tea Area. The Titans took advantage as Cael Lundin capped off a quick 30-yard drive with a one-yard quarterback keeper.

Pierre hit big on their first offensive play after the Titans touchdown. Lincoln Kienholz hit Jack Merkwan for 51-yards to put the Governors near the red zone. Tea Area’s defense from there, though, forced a turnover on downs.

Nathan Babb would then break free for 31-yards to put the Titans just past the midfield mark. A few plays later Lundin hit Gabe Grant for a 32-yard score. Tea Area jumped to a 14-0 lead.

Pierre would turn the ball over again on their next offensive drive when Treyton Lewis was stripped on a catch and run. Titan’s safety Ethan Vis made the recovery. Three plays later Lundin hit Chase Van Tol for 39-yards to get Tea Area’s offense moving in large chunks again 

End of the 1st Quarter: Tea Area 14 Pierre 0

Pierre’s defense would stop Tea Area’s attempt at quick points to start the second quarter as the Titans were forced to punt. The Governors would follow it up by going three-and-out, giving the ball right back to the Titans.

On a fringe field goal range fourth down, Tea Area decided to go for it. On the fourth down, Lundin hit Babb for 30-yards to put the ball inside the five-yard line. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty would push the Titans back, however, and Van Tol missed a 35-yard field goal right of the mark that would have made it a three-possession game.

The Governors quickly advanced the ball to the Titans side of the field with a 35-yard catch and run from Kienholz to Merkwan. Their drive would stall, however, from there. Van Tol quickly put Tea Area into field goal range with a hard fought 35-yard run. Lundin would find the end zone with a 12-yard quarterback keeper, and with 3:18 to play in the half, Tea Area led 21-0. 

On Pierre’s following offensive possession, Kienholz hit Matthew Hanson for a 45-yard desperation heave, and then took a quarterback keeper 25-yards to put the Governors inside the ten-yard line. Two plays later, Kienholz scored on a 3-yard run to put Pierre on the board before halftime.

Halftime: Tea Area 21 Pierre 7

Tea Area wasted no time getting going in the second half. Jaxon Weber took a quick pass from Lundin, spun around one tackle and took it 50-yards to the house. A missed point after made it a 27-7 game.

Kienholz would connect with Cade Kaiser for a huge gain on Pierre’s first offensive drive of the second half, but Kaiser fumbled it on the tackle – the Titans recovered. Tea Area was unable to capitalize as their drive stalled.

Midway through the third quarter, Kienholz hit gold on a 48-yard touchdown pass to Jett Zabel. This shrunk the deficit to 13-points.

The Titans went three-and-out following the Governors score. Kienholz then hit Zabel for a quick 31-yard strike to put the Govs into Titans territory. Kienholz then found Zabel again for a 35-yard touchdown on the next play to make it a one possession game. 

End of the 3rd Quarter: Tea Area 27 Pierre 21

Lundin did hit Van Tol for 30-yards on Tea Area’s next possession, but a holding call, and a self-induced sack, forced a Titans punt. This led to both teams trading a few offensive possessions as the defenses stiffened up.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Pierre orchestrated a nine play, 66-yard drive that was all Kienholz on the ground. He capped it off with a two-yard touchdown run. The extra-point, however, was blocked, which kept the scored deadlocked at 27-27 with 3:27 to play in regulation.

Facing a crucial third down with around two-minutes to play, Lundin hit Babb for 32-yards to get the Titans into Governors territory. On a third down with 36-seconds left, Jacob Mayer picked off Lundin on a sideline pass. It was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but an ‘official’s ‘review overturned it.

Pierre drove the ball into Cole Peterson field goal range with a chance to win it. From 40-yards out with ice in his veins, he drilled it. A walk off kick to win the state championship.

Final: Pierre 30 Tea Area 27

Lincoln Kienholz finished the game with 347-yards passing with two touchdowns through the air. He also scored two touchdowns on the ground with 190-yards of rushing for Pierre. Jett Zabel had 113 receiving yards and two touchdowns for the Govs.

Tea Area quarterback Cael Lundin thew for 262-yards and two touchdowns, while also capturing to scores with his legs.

This is Pierre’s fifth straight state football championship in 11AA, and their sixth state title in program history.