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Falcons soar to championship as Todd County repeats

Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Todd County is celebrating a football championship for the second straight year. They proved too much for Winnebago on Saturday night in Vermillion to win the 9A All-Nations Football Conference title.

The Falcons received to start the game and had some early success moving the ball. That all changed, however, when Jared Doxey forced a fumble on Drake Espinoza, which was recovered by Antrell Harlan of Winnebago.

On the Indians third play from scrimmage, Cashus Kearnes broke loose down the sideline for a 61-yard score. Todd County ‘s next possession stalled, which forced a Falcons punt.

End of the 1st Quarter: Winnebago 7 Todd County 0

The Falcons had much better success in the early portion of the second quarter. They capped off a strong drive on a Chris Ellert to Wakinyan Sa Selwyn 12-yard touchdown around the 8-minute mark of the half. The two-point try was no good, which kept the lead with the Indians.

Todd County found the end zone again with 12-seconds to play in the first half. Ellert found Espinoza for a 3-yard score. After a successful two-point try, the Falcons secured a 14-7 lead over Winnebago.

Halftime: Todd County 14 Winnebago 7

Winnebago received to start the second half, but misfortune would strike as Jaycob Kornely stripped the football from Antrell Harlan, which was recovered by Cayde Valandra to give Todd County the football.

The Falcons would take advantage of the turnover. Ellert connected with Sa Selwyn again, this time for a 37-yard strike. The two-point try was successful, and with 6:45 to play in the third quarter, Todd County led 22-7 in the contest.

Winnebago got back to business on their next possession of offense. Harlan found Kearnes for a 52-yard score. The two-point try was unsuccessful, however, which kept it a two-possession game.

Caden Brownrigg would get the ball back for the Indians a few minutes later as he intercepted a Ellert pass. Winnebago was unable to capitalize on the turnover, however, and quickly went three-and-out.

End of the 3rd Quarter: Todd County 22 Winnebago 13

Todd County put together a long drive to start the fourth quarter. While it didn't result in points, the Falcons did milk five-and-a-half minutes off the clock, and made Winnebago start their next drive deep in their own territory.

Disaster would ensue for the Indians from there. Kendrik Easter intercepted a Harlan pass that set up the Falcons with a short field. The very next play, Ellert connected with Teshaun Marshall for an 8-yard touchdown – Ellert’s fourth passing score of the game.

Winnebago came up short on their next drive as well. Although they moved the ball a ways, the Indians eventually turned it over on downs near the closing moments of the game. From there, it was victory formation for Todd County.

Final: Todd County 28 Winnebago 13

Chris Ellert, despite only completing five passes for 86-yards, threw four touchdown passes. Walkinyan Sa Selwyn caught two of them. He also had 49-yards receiving. Ty Valandra ran the ball 30 times for the Falcons and tallied 156-yards on the ground. Drake Espinoza contributed for 86-yards on the ground as well for Todd County.

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.