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Huskies win first state football title in elite battle with Winner

Josh Jurgens
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

In thrilling fashion, Elk Point-Jefferson topped Winner 21-14 on Friday afternoon in Vermillion at the Dakota Dome to win their first ever state football title, in their first ever championship game appearance.

2022 SDHSAA Football Championships Class 11B

The Huskies received to start the game. Noah McDermott hit Garrett Merkley for a huge 44-yard gain downfield, but they came up empty after a missed 27-yard field goal attempt by Carson Timmins.

Winner quickly went three-and-out on their opening offensive possession, which kept the game scoreless midway through the first quarter.

Elk Point-Jefferson’s second offensive drive of the game didn’t go smoothly. McDermott took a deep shot to Hunter Geary, but it was intercepted by Winner defensive back Blake Volmer.

The Huskies defense once again stood strong, however, forcing another quick three-and-out. Winner then forced a three-and-out of their own, and blocked the punt, which set the Warriors up in great field possession late in the opening quarter. Elk Point-Jefferson’s defense would come up big again, forcing Winner into a turnover on downs inside the red zone.

End of the 1st Quarter | Winner 0 Elk Point-Jefferson 0

Huskies running back Lucas Hueser broke free for a 48-yard burst up the middle early in the second quarter to put Elk Point-Jefferson deep in Warriors territory. Hueser would get it again on a 4th and goal play from the one, and he reached the ball over the line to break the scoring drought in the game.

Winner answered quickly as Ryken Orel exploded for a 69-yard touchdown run. But a failed two-point conversion kept the lead with Elk Point-Jefferson at 7-6 with 4:29 to play in the half.

Two-minutes later, Elk Point-Jefferson answered back. McDermott kept it himself for a 13-yard score.

Karson Keiser would miss a 27-yard field goal, that came up short, in the closing seconds of the half. Because the kick didn’t cross the goal line, the Huskies picked it up and tried returning it to the house as time expired, but Dalton Peterson was tackled near midfield.

Halftime | Elk Point-Jefferson 14 Winner 6

Both offenses started slow to begin the third quarter. Winner went three-and-out, while Elk Point-Jefferson grabbed one first down, but then had to punt shortly thereafter.

The Warriors orchestrated an efficient drive on their next possession, using clock and gaining yards into the Huskies side of the field.

End of the 3rd Quarter | Elk Point-Jefferson 14 Winner 6

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Blake Volmer hit Ethan Bartels for a 35-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion, Volmer to Bartels again, was good, which tied it up at 14-14.

The Huskies retook the lead with just under eight-minutes to play when Hueser broke free up the middle for a 31-yard touchdown scamper.

Winner then orchestrated an all or nothing drive that used up most of the remaining time. With a critical 4th down deep in Elk Point-Jefferson, Jakob Scarmon jumped in front of a Volmer pass to seal the victory for the Huskies.

Final | Elk Point-Jefferson 21 Winner 14

Not only was Friday’s win the first ever state championship for the Huskies football program, but it also ended a 34-game win streak for Winner.

Elk Point-Jefferson was led by Lucas Hueser, who had 119 yards rushing, and two touchdowns on the ground. Riley Orel ran for 111-yards and a score for the Warriors.

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.
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