Titans fall to Pierre in heartbreaker
After leading 21-7 at the half, things were looking good for the Titans in the Class 11AA State Championship game. However, late in the third Pierre began their attack and after a late interception, the Governors were able to take possession and eventually kick a 40 yard field goal as time expired to win their fifth straight State 11AA title.
The heartbreaking loss for the Titans meant an end to their perfect season, as this marked their first loss. Despite the loss, Titan head coach Craig Clayberg is proud of his team and their effort.
“I was very proud of how our guys competed throughout the whole championship game,” said Clayberg. “We came out on the short end, but the guys gave everything that they had and left it all on the field.”
Tea Area got things going early as the Titans forced a fumble on the opening kick off which was recovered by Ethan Vis to set the Titans up with great field position. It didn’t take the Titans long to capitalize on the turnover as Cael Lundin kept the quarterback keeper and dove in from the one yard line for the score. Chase Van Tol’s point after gave the Titans the early 7-0 lead.
The Titans defense held Pierre on their next possession. Reis Kirschenman sacked Pierre’s quarterback and after an incomplete pass, Pierre was forced to punt.
The Titans managed to find the endzone on their next possession with the drive highlighted by the 32 yard touchdown pass from Lundin to Gabe Grant.
Van Tol’s point after had the Titans leading 14-0.
During Pierre’s next drive, Van Tol forced a fumble on the Pierre ball carrier and Vis recovered, giving the Titans the ball at their own 33 yard line. The Titans were unable to capitalize on the turnover this time as Lundin was sacked twice in the drive, forcing a punt.
Pierre had to punt on their next possession giving the Titans the ball once again. Van Tol had a nice punt return, giving the Titans the ball at the Pierre 40. But incomplete passes forced the Titans to attempt a 35 yard field goal. The attempt went wide right.
Pierre took over but the Titans defense continued to hold Pierre who once again had to punt.
With 4:28 left before half, the Titans used a strong run by Jaxon Weber and a nice pass to Klayton Sattler to set up another touchdown as Cael Lundin kept it on the quarterback keeper and ran 12 yards for the score. Van Tol’s point after gave the Titans the 21-0 lead.
With just over three minutes left in the half, Pierre managed to get on the scoreboard. With runs by their quarterback during the drive, the Governors scored on a quarterback keeper. The point after was good, leaving the score 21-7 at the half.
The Titans got the ball coming out of half and it took no time at all for them to get another score on the board as Lundin found Weber for a 50 yard pass. Van Tol’s point after attempt failed, leaving the Titans with a 27-7 lead.
On Pierre’s next possession, Weber forced a fumble and recovered it at the Titans’ 27 yard line, giving Tea Area the ball. The Titans were once again unable to capitalize on the turnover, having to punt.
Pierre took the ball and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Titans moved Pierre down the field. On the next play, Pierre scored on a 48 yard touchdown pass. The point after was good, leaving the score 27-14.
The Titans were unable to get anything going on their next drive, being forced to punt. With just over four minutes left in the third quarter, Pierre found the endzone again scoring on a 35 yard touchdown pass. The point after pulled Pierre within six points, leaving the score 27-21.
The Titans began marching down the field but another holding penalty halted their drive and after an incomplete pass, the Titans were once again forced to punt.
The Titans defense held firm on Pierre’s next drive forcing the Governor’s to punt. The Titans, however, also had to punt on their next possession. Back and forth possessions continued with Pierre punting and the Titans punting once again.
With 6:31 left on the clock, Pierre began a drive on their own 34 yard line. Run after run by Pierre’s quarterback set up a two yard touchdown by the quarterback to tie things up at 27-all. Sattler managed to block the point after attempt, leaving things tied with just over three minutes left in the game.
The Titans began their drive with a nice pass from Lundin to Nathan Babb to get the Titans down to Pierre’s 40 yard line. After a carry by Van Tol, Lundin attempted a pass to Weber near the sidelines which was intercepted. Pierre completed a critical pass on the drive and their quarterback ran 21 yards to set up a 40 yard field goal attempt with a second on the clock. The Governors’ field goal sailed through the uprights as time expired giving Pierre the 30-27 victory, ending the Titans’ season one game shy of perfection.
The Titans finished with 434 yards of offense, gaining 262 in the air and 172 on the ground. Pierre finished with 554 yards of offense, gaining 207 on the ground and 347 in the air.
For the Titans, Van Tol led the rushing attack finishing with 116 yards on 18 carries. Weber rushed for 31 yards on 11 carries and Babb finished with 30 yards on five carries.
In the air, Lundin completed 11 of 25 pass attempts for 262 yards. Van Tol grabbed three passes for 76 yards, Sattler three for 28, Babb two for 60, Weber two for 56, and Grant one for 32.
Defensively, Kirschenman recorded a sack in the game. Weber and Vis each had a fumble recovery. Van Tol and Weber each had forced fumbles and Sattler had the blocked extra point. Van Tol led the team in tackles with six, Jackson Smythe had five, Babb and Sattler four, Weber, Vis, and Griffen Schnider three each, Kirschenman, Mason Reiners, Jeff Worth and Hayden Hindberg two each, and Isaac Johnson, TJ Krietlow, Parker Mulder, Thomas Ostrem, Keegan DeYoung, and Trevor Taylor one each.
A large number of the players on this year’s team were seniors. Seniors included: Marcus Fury, Gabe Grant, Hayden Hindberg, Isaac Johnson, TJ Krietlow, Cael Lundin, Thomas Ostrem, Klayton Sattler, Kade Schentzel, Jaden Schmidt, Trevor Taylor, Jaxon Weber, and Jeff Worth.
“I can’t say enough about the leadership of our 13 seniors. These guys were very instrumental in leading us into a bigger class of football and paved the way for future teams to follow,” said Clayberg. “They led in the off-season, through the season, and all the way to the end of the championship game. They are going to be missed.”