The second 11AA championship game to be held since the 11AAA split feature two teams that had
not been to the dome to play for a title since 2005 (Yankton) and 2001 (Brookings). Both lost
their last trips to Vermillion, and both had huge crowds in tow to cheer them on.
Brookings had won the toss but deferred to the second half, giving Yankton the ball to start
the championship game. Tanner Frick was stopped by a pumped Brookings squad at his own 14
yard line. THe Bucks mixed up the formations and play calls well, and with 6:34 left in the
first quarter, finished off a 13 play scoring drive with a 15 yard touchdown pass from Mason
Strahl to Brady Hale. The extra point was good, and Yankton went up 7-0.
Brookings went three and out on their first possession, then Yankton again drove the ball
into scoring position, but the drive stalled at the Brookings 20, and Hale was called upon
for a 37 yard field goal attempt. Hale has made longer field goals during the season, but
this one was wide left, and Brookings took over. On the first play of their next drive
Brookings back Dayton Bird sprinted 23 yards to the 43 yard line. The quarter ended with
Yankton leading 7-0, but Brookings continued their drive with Mikey Daniel gaining 17 yards
on the ground, and later a 25 yard run. Daniel finished the drive with 10:28 left in the half
on a 2 yard touchdown run. The extra point was blocked, and Yankton held on to a 7-6 lead.
The Bucks returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 47, then Strahl hit Parker Kuchta for 17
yards on the next play. Three plays after that, Strahl's pass for Sheldon Gant was tipped and
caught by Gant, who ran for a 32 yard touchdown. Hale's extra point was good, and Yankton now
led 14-6 with 9:09 left in the 2nd quarter.
Brookings was again three-and-out, and Yankton proceeded to go 64 yards in 10 plays, before
Hale made a 21 yard field goal to make the score 17-6 with 2:55 left in the first half.
Yankton then attempted an onside kick, but the ball slipped between two Bucks players to
Brookings' Mitchell Smith, who returned the errant kick to the Yankton 4. Yankton's defense
then put up an amazing four-play goal line stand to get the ball back with 0:33 to play.
Strahl took a knee and the 17-6 lead into halftime.
Brookings received the second half kickoff, and lost five yards before punting, putting the
Yankton Bucks on their own 43. The Bucks then had another methodical drive, with sizable
passing gains from Strahl's arm. It was Strahl this time finishing the drive on a 1 yard
quarterback sneak for the touchdown. Hale's kick was good, and Yankton led 24-6 with 8:56
left in the third quarter.
The Bobcats took their next possession and the new weapon was tight end RJ Helsper, who
caught the first pass of the drive for 23 yards, and eight plays later, the last pass of the
drive, a 30 yard reception from Gordon. The 2-point converison attempt failed, and Yankton's
lead was now 24-12 with 6:22 left in the 3rd.
On Yankton's next drive the Bucks were faced with 3rd and 9 from their own 30. Strahl dropped
to pass evaded some pressure and threw up a deep pass, but was intercepted by Carter Mahlum
at the Brookings 45. Brookings was unable to make anything of the turnover, and punted.
Yankton went three-and-out, and also punted.
On that punt Dayton Bird took the ball near the left sideline at his own 12, and broke an 80
-yard punt return to put the ball at Yankton's 8 yard line. Two Gerald Maxwell runs later,
and Brookings had cut the lead to 24-19 to end the third quarter.
Yankton took the ball from the kickoff, but penalties and good Bobcats defense caused the
Bucks to punt. Hale pinned Brookings at their own 3, but the Bobcats clawed their way out of
that hole, and on a 4th and 1 from their own 46, Daniel took quick hitter handoff and broke
through, sprinting for the 54 yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion was good, and
Brookings had their first lead, 27-24 with 3:52 to play.
Yankton made good gains on their next possession but a false start and a untimely sack of
Strahl stalled the drive at the Brookings 28. But Yankton's kicker Brady Hale, came on and
made a 45-yard field goal to tie the game 27-27 with 1:26 left. Brookings took the ball but
Gordon was intercepted by Hale at the Yankton 39. Yankton couldn't do anything with the ball
and the 2014 class 11AA championship would head to overtime tied at 27.
Brookings won the overtime toss and elected to play defense. Yankton took the ball, gave it
to Ryan Sternhagen who plowed into the end zone for a score on the first play. Hale's kick
was good, and Yankton had a 34-27 lead. Brookings took two plays to respond, when Daniel
scored from 7 yards out. Brookings went for two, but Daniel couldn't quite handle the pass
from Gordon, and Yankton left the Dakota Dome victorious with their 6th state championship,
and first since 2002. Strahl was named Joe Robbie Most Outstanding Player, with 24 yards
rushing, 265 yards passing, 3 touchdowns (2 pass, 1 rush).
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4 OT-FINAL
BROOKINGS 0 6 13 8 6-33
YANKTON 7 10 7 3 7-34
RUSHING: BROOKINGS: Daniel 17-136-3TD; Bird 4-20-0TD; Maxwell 7-17-1TD; Gordon 2-(-19)-0TD.
YANKTON: Gant 14-60-0TD; Cross 10-49-0TD; Strahl 7-24-1TD; Sternhagen 3-24-1TD; Kuchta 2-0-
PASSING: BROOKINGS: Gordon 11-20-124-1TD-1INT. YANKTON: Strahl 20-31-265-2TD-1INT; Hale 0-1-
RECEIVING: BROOKINGS: Helsper 3-63-1TD; Daniel 3-26-0TD; Bird 2-19-0TD; Burns 1-7-0TD; Wilber
1-6-0TD; Maxwell 1-3-0TD. YANKTON: Gant 10-130-1TD; Greeneway 4-76-0TD; Hale 3-39-1TD; Kuchta