HURON — The Mitchell Kernels played spoiler at Tiger Stadium on Friday night, as the defending Class “AA” champions defeated the Huron Tigers 33-12 in the Tigers’ homecoming game.
Huron found itself plugging several other players into the lineup, as several of the starters for the Tigers were out with injury, including quarterback Jett McGirr, who was injured in the Huron loss to Yankton last week, and was spelled by Kobe Busch Friday night.
The Kernels started quickly, as quarterback Kiel Nelson took the second snap of the game around right end, dropped a defender with a stiff arm and was on his way to a 71-yard touchdown. A Trevor Lambert PAT made it 7-0 with a minute off the clock.
Huron was unable to move the ball, turning the ball back to Mitchell on a long pass that was intercepted.
The Kernels didn’t waste much time on their second possession either, as a Nelson 30-yard pass to Austin Kerr put the ball deep in Huron territory, at the 25-yard line. Nelson capped the drive with his second touchdown run. Huron blocked the PAT attempt.
The Tiger offense began to click on its second possession, as Busch, Alex Hill and Walker Schiltz found open holes and moved the ball down the field. After a first down, however, the drive stalled with a Busch pass to Mason Small came up just short on third down and Huron was forced to punt.
The Tiger defense also began to find the range, as they forced Mitchell into a three-and-out, including a crippling sack of Nelson by Gabe Rieger and Remington Walton.
The first quarter ended with Mitchell in possession and on the move again, and junior Drew Kitchens scored on the first snap of the second quarter, on a 25-yard run.
“We work and try to get off to a better start because that has been a problem area the past few weeks,” said Tiger coach Michael Schmitz after the game. “We put ourselves in a tough position when we fall behind early and it happened again tonight.
Huron’s next possession was a short one, as the Tigers fumbled on their second play, setting the Kernels up at the Huron 22-yard line.
Three straight Kitchen runs added up to the fourth score of the half, this time on a one-yard run, with 8:49 left on the clock to take a 27-0 cushion.
Neither team could manage to move the ball the remainder of the half, as Huron’s defense began to better control the line of scrimmage, although the Tiger offense continued to struggle, as the runners sought lanes to run and Busch was unable to generate offense through the air.
After a couple changes of possession, the Kernels began to move the ball through the air. Nelson capped the drive with a 38-yard scoring strike to Jordan Dirkes that made it 33-0 after another blocked PAT attempt.
The Tigers fumbled for the third time on the next series after forcing Mitchell to turn the ball over on downs, but the Kernels returned the favor, fumbling the ball back on the second play of the possession.
This time, Huron took advantage of the field position, breaking Chip Shillingstad free up the middle and the junior tailback made his way 48 yards to paydirt. A conversion run failed, but Huron was on the board for the first time in four games.
The Huron defense again forced a three-and-out, and the Tigers responded again, as Alex Hill stepped through a hole in the line and rambled 69-yards for the second Huron touchdown.
“I thought as the night went on our defense played a little better,” said Schmitz, “but our slow start made it difficult to come back.”
Huron was led offensively by Hill, who had 110 yards on eight carries, while Shillingstad notched 53 yards on four carries, Busch carried eight times for 24 yards and was 2-10 through the air for eight yards and one interception.
Nelson carried the ball seven times for 143 yards for the Kernels, while Kitchens added 54 yards on 19 carries. Nelson was also 4/8 through the air for 61 yards and a score.
Mitchell moves to 5-1 with the win, while Huron falls to 1-5. Huron closes the home portion of its season next Friday night, when it hosts the S.F. O’Gorman Knights at Tiger Stadium.
“Hopefully, we will continue to heal and get some guys back, and we can get ready for O’Gorman,” Schmitz said.
M — 11:00 - Kiel Nelson, 71-yard run. (Trevor Lambert PAT)
M — 7:53 - Nelson, 24-yard run. (PAT attempt blocked)
M — 11:51 - Drew Kitchens, 25-yard run. (Lambert PAT)
M — 8:49 - Kitchens, one-yard run. (Lambert PAT)
M — 4:36 - Jordan Dirkes, 38-yard pass from Nelson (PAT attempt blocked)
H — 11:07 - Chip Shillingstad, 48-yard run. (Conversion failed)
H — 7:20 - Alex Hill, 69-yard run. (PAT attempt failed)
Photos by Mike Carrol of the Plainsman
Huron’s Mason Small fights to break free from Mitchell’s Briggs Havlik after making a catch during the first half of their Eastern South Dakota Conference football game Friday at Tiger Stadium. Huron’s Will Gross tackles Mitchell’s Drew Kitchens as teammate Jackson Hook assists on the play during their game Friday at Tiger Stadium.