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Lincoln caps perfect season with state championship

Josh Jurgens
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

Lincoln’s quest for a perfect season was completed on Saturday night in Vermillion as the Patriots defeated O’Gorman 31-7 in the 11AAA state championship game. For Lincoln, this is their fourth state football title, and their first since 2014.

The Knights got the ball to start the 11AAA title clash. Two-minutes into the game, Mason Bolkema jumped in front of a Hayden Groos slant attempt for an interception. Lincoln took advantage of the short field to score first. Jack Smith took a direct snap from one-yard out to put the Patriots ahead 7-0 with 6:41 to play in the opening quarter.

O’Gorman was able to move the ball into Lincoln territory on their second drive, but a short spot on fourth down turned it over on downs near the Patriots 35-yard line. The Knights defense would hold, however, to get the ball back with under a minute to play in the first.

End of the 1st Quarter: Lincoln 7 O’Gorman 0

The Knights would go three-and-out on their first possession of the second quarter. On the Patriots drive following the punt, Sullivan Schlimgen came up with a big sack for O’Gorman on second down to force a third and long. Samuel Marsh then jumped in front of a Tate Schafter pass for an interception. It didn’t last, however, as two plays later Maverick Jones fumbled the football, which was recovered by Edison Noll to give the ball back to the Patriots.

Lincoln’s offense followed up the turnover with a quick three-and-out of their own. But on the ensuing punt, Henry Theobald failed to corral it, and it was recovered by Bolkema. This set up the Patriots with another short field. Once again, though, O’Gorman’s defense made a play when they needed to. As Schafer tried moving up in the pocket, Lathan Wilcox stripped him from behind, recovered by Ryland Satter of the Knights.

O’Gorman did pick up one first down following the turnover, but the drive then stalled.

The Patriots would attempt a 27-yard field goal with 33-seconds to go in the half, but the snap was bobbled. Holder Sawyer Tolk didn’t hesitate, quickly picked up the ball, and ran with it into the end zone, which was credited as a 10-yard score. This gave Lincoln a 14-0 lead going into the break.

Halftime: Lincoln 14 O’Gorman 0

Lincoln received to start the second half, but the drive fell apart on an 11-yard loss as Schafer slipped on as he tried to escape pressure on the second down play, and then was sacked by Satter on third down. O’Gorman also struggled on offense on their first possession of the third quarter, going three-and-out.

With 3:45 to play in the third, Schafer found Dawson Siem for a 13-yard toe-tap touchdown. This put the Patriots up 21-0.

Groos would hit Jones for a 51-yard screen for a crucial burst on the Knights next possession. The very next play Groos hit Satter for a 19-yard touchdown to get O’Gorman on the board.

End of the 3rd Quarter: Lincoln 21 O’Gorman 7

Schafer would find Siem again for a score in the early stages of the fourth quarter, this time from 10-yards out. This gave Lincoln a 28-7 lead.

On O’Gorman’s next possession, Groos threw a pass downfield that was intercepted by Tolk that was returned 26-yards. This set up the Patriots with favorable field position for their offense. Schafer would end the Patriots drive with a 32-yard field goal to make it a 31-7 game.

The Knights had a deep drive in the closing moments of the game, but inside the red zone they turned it over on downs. From there, Lincoln went with victory formation.

Final: Lincoln 31 O'Gorman 7

The Patriots were led by Tate Schafer who threw for 187-yards and two scores. Jack Smith had 53-yards receiving, and 45-yards rushing, with one touchdown on the ground. Dawson Siem caught six passes for 50-yards and two touchdowns.

O’Gorman’s Hayden Groos threw for 199-yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions. Maverick Jones had 90-yards receiving and 83-yards rushing for the Knights as well.

Joe Robbie MVP: Tate Schafer
Outstanding Lineman: Luke Krempges
Outstanding Back: Sawyer Tolt

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.