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Pierre wins sixth straight football title in 11AA

Josh Jurgens
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
2022 SDHSAA Football Championships Class 11AA

Pierre defeated Tea Area 35-20 on Saturday afternoon to capture their sixth straight state football championship, and seventh overall as a program.

The Governors received to start the ball game. They advanced the ball towards midfield on their opening possession, but quarterback Lincoln Kienholz was stripped on a keeper by Reis Kirschenman, recovered by Nike Rosas, for an early game turnover.

Tea Area quickly went three-and-out and had to punt following the fumble recovery. On the first play of Pierre’s second drive, Kienholz hit Jack Merkwan for a 92-yard touchdown, giving the Governors an early 7-0 lead.

The Titans moved the ball past midfield on their second possession of offense, but once again stalled out and had to punt. They did pin the Governors deep, however, placing the ball inside the 10-yard line. Blake Thompson then jumped in front of a Kienholz pass for an interception a few plays later to put the Tea Area offense back on the field. Faced with a third and long, Titans quarterback Maddix Slykhuis hit Wyatt Stuntbeck for a 59-yard catch and run score. With 1:34 to play in the first quarter, the ball game was tied 7-7.

Pierre’s next possession went backwards, as they allowed two sacks, and the Governors were forced to punt.

End of the 1st Quarter | Tea Area 7 Pierre 7

Both defenses were strong for the first half of the second quarter, making it tough on each opposing offense. The Governors retook the lead with 6:28 to play in the half when Kienholz hit Merkwan again for a long score – this time from 65-yards out.

Twenty-seconds later, Tea Area answered right back off an 83-yard touchdown throw for Slykhuis to Chase Van Tol. The extra-point missed left of the upright, however, which kept Pierre ahead of the Titans 14-13.

Pierre used most of the remaining clock in the half to drive down field, but they turned it over on downs inside the red zone with just a few seconds to go.

Halftime | Pierre 14 Tea Area 13

Tea Area’s offense struggled on their first offensive possession of the second half, but Pierre’s did not. The Governors extended it to a 21-13 game off a two-yard pass from Kienholz to Brock Moser at the 7:19 mark.

The Titans answered back a minute later when Slykhuis hit Van Tol for the second time in the game for a touchdown, this one a 68-yard big play.

Kienholz would run it in from three-yards out on Pierre’s next possession to put the Governors back up by eight-points. It was an 80-yard drive that Pierre orchestrated down the field.

End of the 3rd Quarter | Pierre 28 Tea Area 20

Tea Area got the ball back early in the fourth quarter, but it was quickly spoiled when Deegan Houska intercepted a Slykhuis pass intended for Blake Thompson. Pierre went backwards after the turnover, however, and with just under eight-minutes to play, Tea Area got another shot on offense.

Slykhuis would throw another interception, though, this one to Kienholz, which set the Governors up with a short field to work with. Three plays later, Kienholz’s scored again, this time from 11-yards out, to make it a 35-20 game with 5:15 to play.

The Titans attempted a halfback pass on a critical fourth down with less than four-minutes to play, but Thompson’s throw was intercepted by Emmit Andersen.

From there, Pierre was able to run out the clock and capture the state championship.

Final | Pierre 35 Tea Area 20

Governors quarterback Lincoln Kienholz was the Joe Robbie MVP in the contest, his third straight year of being the recipient of the award. He finished with 274-yards through the air, and three passing touchdowns. He also scored twice on the ground with 121 rushing yards. Plus, he recorded an interception in the game as well on defense.

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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