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Gregory claims 9A title in a battle with Warner

Josh Jurgens
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Gregory outlasted a second half rally attempt to defeat Warner 36-23 in the 9A state title game on Thursday night at the Dakota Dome in Vermillion. The Gorillas were led by quarterback Rylan Peck, who garnered 162-yards rushing and three touchdowns – plus a late game interception.

2022 SDHSAA Football Championships Class 9A

The Monarchs started with the ball, but their offense stalled with a turnover on downs near midfield. Gregory used the short field to their advantage as Kade Stukel ran in a one-yard touchdown to give the Gorillas a 8-0 midway through the opening quarter.

Warner’s offense struggled again on their second offensive possession, a three-and-out that led to a punt. A good kick set up Gregory in poor field position, but it didn’t matter. Rylan Peck broke free for an 81-yard touchdown quarterback keeper. The two-point attempt was good, which made it a 16-0 game with 2:30 to play in the first.

End of the 1st Quarter | Gregory 16 Warner 0

The Monarchs were able to move the football on their next offensive drive, but a strong defensive front from the Gorillas forced another turnover on downs deep in their territory.

Peck scored again for Gregory with 6:57 to play in the game, this time from 23-yards out. This made it a 24-0 lead for the Gorillas.

Warner finally got a spark defensively when Hunter Cramer picked off a Peck pass, on a drive that looked promising for Gregory.

With 29-seconds to play in the first half, the Monarchs found the end zone. Cramer hit Ashton Schuchhardt from 26-yards out. This cut the deficit as both teams went into the locker room for halftime.

Halftime | Gregory 24 Warner 8

Warner attempted an onside kick to start the second half, but it was executed poorly, which gave Gregory great field position to start the third quarter. Stukel would run it in from 13-yards out, and the Gorillas led 30-8.

The Monarchs quickly answered. Cramer ran it in from 3-yards out, and a successful two-point conversion shrunk Gregory’s lead to just 14-points.

Warner’s defense then came up with a big stand on defense, and then blocked the Gorillas punt attempt to give themselves the ball in the red zone to start their next drive. Cramer would run it in again, this time from five-yards away, and with 1:30 to play in the third quarter, Gregory led Warner 30-23.

End of the 3rd Quarter | Gregory 30 Warner 23

A quick three-and-out gave the Monarchs the ball back at midfield early in the fourth quarter. Warner also went three-and-out, but they were able to pin the Gorillas deep inside their own five-yard line on the punt.

Gregory would then go 96-yards on the ensuing possession, capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Peck, his third of the game. With 6:12 to play in the contest, the Gorillas led 36-23

Peck would come up big defensively for Gregory on the next drive, picking off a Cramer pass on a critical fourth downplay. From there, the Gorillas ran out the clock, clinching the victory.

Final | Gregory 36 Warner 23

Click Here for game stats

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.