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Pierre rallies past Golden Eagles

Aberdeen Central's Austin Erickson breaks up the middle on the way to a 55-yard touchdown run against Pierre Friday night. The Governors defeated Central 28-21. Photo by Campea Photography

PIERRE – It proved to be a much different scenario than last time, but ended with the same result.

Instead of trying to overcome a 32-point deficit, Aberdeen Central owned a 14-point lead before Pierre scored 21 unanswered points to grab a 28-21 victory during the semifinals of the Class 11AA football playoffs Friday night.

In a previous meeting, Pierre passed for 377 yards and seven touchdowns. Central was able to keep that in check only to have the Governors run the ball much more effectively in the rematch.

“We didn’t want the quarterback to beat us passing so we forced them to run the ball. That’s how we had things set up,” said Central coach Scott Svendsen. “That’s why they had so many yards there, but you have to give up one and sacrifice something for the other. That is what we chose to do tonight.”

Central controlled much of the opening half as Karson Carda rushed for 135 yards in the opening 24 minutes, Austin Erickson bolted up the middle for a 55-yard touchdown run, and Sam Rohlfs hooked up for a pair of touchdown passes to Alec Voegele.

However, the offense dried up in the second half as the Eagles were unable to move the ball on the ground like they did in the first half.

“We had linemen playing both sides of the ball, which we haven’t done a lot of this year,” Svendsen said. “We were getting little tired there, so things kind of changed a little bit. We weren’t making some of those plays.”

The Governors got the ball to start the second half trailing 21-14 and were faced with a fourth down and one from their own 26-yard line. Pierre went for it, converted it and extended a drive that resulted in the game-tying points.

“That was a very big play. There’s no doubt about it,” Svendsen said. “We should have got more people in the box and we didn’t.”

The Eagles had an opportunity to regain the lead early in the fourth quarter driving down to the Pierre 8-yard line. However, the Governors turned Central away without any points and then drove 80 yards for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown with 5:01 remaining.

Drew Salfrank of Aberdeen Central carries the ball following one of his four catches against Pierre Friday night. Salfrank finished with 32 yards receiving. Photo by Campea Photography

Treyton Lewis rushed for 98 yards and three touchdowns for the four-time defending Class 11AA state champions.

Central finished the contest with more yards than the Governors, but came up short on the scoreboard.

“Both teams duked it out. We slugged it out with them on their field,” Svendsen said. “Our kids played their guts out and it just didn’t fall our way tonight. That’s just the way it is.”

The Eagles will lose a talented senior class that helped to keep the squad focused and determined when the squad was mired in a six-game losing streak.

“We’ll miss their leadership, we’ll miss their attitude, their work ethic, their heart, their perseverance. We’ll miss the whole deal on those guys,” Svendsen said. “They really did a good job. When we were on that six-game losing streak, they could have easily gave up, but they saw what we were doing.”

The Eagles, who finished the year at 4-7, hung together, knocking off second-seeded Brookings last week and then pushed third-seeded Pierre the whole way on Friday night.

“Our record is not going to show what kind of season we had. I felt like we had a pretty good season,” Svendsen said. “We were peaking at the right time of the year. It’s just unfortunate it just didn’t fall our way.”

Aberdeen Central 7 14 0 0 – 21

Pierre 7 7 7 7 – 28

First Quarter

AC – Alec Voegele 21 pass from Sam Rohlfs (Tayden Brownson kick), 5:12.

P – Treyton Lewis 5 run (Cole Peterson kick), 2:17.

Second Quarter

AC – Austin Erickson 55 run (Brownson kick), 8:12

AC – Voegele 31 pass from Rohlfs (Brownson kick), 3:23.

P – Lewis 5 run (Peterson kick), 1:27.

Third Quarter

P – Jayden Wiebe 7 run (Peterson kick), 8:58.

Fourth Quarter

P – Lewis 4 run (Peterson kick), 5:06.

OFFENSE: Aberdeen Central rushing 39-232 (Karson Carda 28-162, Erickson 4-61, Rohlfs 7-9, passing 12-23-2 for 144 (Rohlfs 11-22-2 for 142, Carda 1-1-0 for 2), receiving (Voegele 4-77, Drew Salfrank 4-32, Avery Ligon 1-18, Collin Huff 1-15, Rohlfs 1-2), first downs 19; Pierre rushing 32-183 (Lewis 16-98, Lincoln Kienholz 15-80, Wiebe 1-5), passing 13-20-1 for 76 (Kienholz 13-20-1 for 76), receiving (Jack Merkwan 6-66, Cade Kaiser 2-22, Jett Zabel 2-21, Lewis 1-17, Matthew Hanson 1-10, Wiebe 1-6), first downs 28.

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