The class 9B championship game almost made history in one respect, but it did make history in the respect that this was the first time that a pair of teams from west of the Missouri River met to play for a state football championship. Harding County had been close several times to attaining a state championship in recent years, but was never quite able to take the top of the South Dakota football mountain. COlome also has had some success in the Dakota Dome, winning the 2007 state 9B championship.
So it was a new mood on Thursday night in Vermillion as the Cowboys took on the Ranchers. Colome started with the ball at their own 39 yard line. It took the Cowboys five plays to find the end zone with their main threat, quarterback Terrance Kinzer. He took the ball around right end and scampered 50 yards for the game's first score. Kinzer then found Brandon Hauf in the end zone for the two point conversion, and Colome had a quick 8-0 lead two minutes into the game.
It would be a long while before Colome would see the end zone. Harding County showed their spread passing attack early and often, and with 6:24 left in the first quarter, Ranchers' quarterback Jess Feist found Ckyler Floyd for an 18-yard touchdown pass to cap a9-play, 64 yard drive. Feist ran in the conversion, and the game was tied 8-8.
Colome gained some traction on the ground and drove to the Harding County 28, but turned the ball over on downs when a pass to Lane Fawcett fell incomplete. The first quarter ended with the game tied at 8, but the Ranchers were driving. Two plays into the second quarter, Feist found Steven Koch in the end zone for a 28 yard touchdown. The conversion failed, and the Ranchers held a 14-8 lead. The Ranchers would not relinquish this lead, insted extended it to a 28-8 advantage at halftime with a pair of 21-yard touchdown passes to Harley Mollman and Koch.
There seemed to be a ray of hope for Colome in the second half, when Andrew Odden forced a fumble from Feist, which Fawcett recovered. The Cowboys tried to take full advantage of this turnover, driving the ball to the Rachers' 7-yard line, but when Kinzer tried to pass to the end zone, the underthrown ball was intercepted by Mollman, who rumbled the entire length of the field for a 99-yard touchdown interception return. Feist ran in the conversion and Harding County was up 36-8 with 2:14 left in the third quarter.
Colome's touchdown would come on their next drive, when Kinzer broke a 42-yard run to the end zone near the end of the quarter. The conversion succeeded, and Harding County took a 36-14 lead to the final 12 minutes of the 2012 season.
Colome recovered an onside kickoff, but only moved the ball a yard before turning the ball over on downs. Harding County took five plays to extend the lead to 42-14 on a 41 yard pass to Mollman. Each team would add another touchdown late in the fourth, and the Harding County Ranchers closed out their second state football championship in school history with the 50-20 victory. Feist was named the Joe Robbie MVP, going 16-for-18 passing for 290 yards (10 yards short of the title game passing record) and six touchdown passes. Kinzer had a fine game for Colome, rushing 19 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns, but on this night, it wasn't enough to keep up with the Ranchers' passing game.
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4-FINAL
COLOME 8 0 6 6-20
HARDING COUNTY 8 20 8 14-50
RUSHING: COLOME: Kinzer 19-187yds-2TD; Odden 33-163-1; McCarty 3-10-0; Harter 1-4-0; Hauf 1-2-0; HARDING COUNTY: Feist 14-86-0TD; McCann 6-26-0; Hewson 4-10-0; Koch 1-3-0.
PASSING: COLOME: Kinzer 1-9-1yds-0TD-1INT. HARDING COUNTY: Feist 16-18-290-6-0.
RECEIVING: COLOME: Hauf 1-1yds-oTD. HARDING COUNTY: Floyd 7-115-2TD; Koch 5-87-2; Mollman 2-62-2; McCann 1-17-0; Robinson 1-9-0.