It took all 48 minutes, but the Govs did it again.

The Pierre T.F. Riggs Governors football team played the Tea Area Titans in the Class 11AA State Championship at the DakotaDome in Vermillion on Friday night. They came away with a 30-27 victory in dramatic fashion.

The Govs found themselves down 21-0 with about three minutes to go in the second quarter. They got on the board when junior quarterback Lincoln Kienholz scored from one yard out to make the score 21-7 by halftime in favor of the Titans.

The Titans scored early in the third quarter when senior quarterback Cael Lundin found Jaxon Weber on a 50 yard touchdown pass. The ensuing extra kick was no good, and the score was 27-7. That’s when the comeback started for the Govs. Kienholz found sophomore tight end Jett Zabel for a pair of touchdown passes in the third quarter to make the score 27-21. Kienholz found the endzone again on a touchdown run with a little over three minutes to go in the third quarter. Senior kicker Cole Peterson’s kick was blocked, which kept the score at 27-27. The Titans drove the ball down the field, but junior defensive back Jacob Mayer thwarted those efforts with an interception with 36 seconds to go. The Govs drove the ball down the field to the Titans’ 23 yard line. Peterson kicked a game winning 40 yard field to give the Govs the win, and their fifth straight Class 11AA State Championship.

Peterson told the Capital Journal after the game what was going through his mind on that final kick.

“I had a ton of emotions,” Peterson said. “The crowd was roaring. I had to clear out my head. I kept telling myself it was just like practice.”

Govs coach Steve Steele echoed his kicker’s words by saying he told Peterson that the kick was just like any other kick.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of pressure on him,” Steele said. “If he missed it, we were going to overtime. It’s not a win or lose situation. I told him to kick the ball the way that he knows he can.”

The Govs were led by Kienholz, who completed 11 of 23 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns. Kienholz also had 26 carries for 190 yards and two scores. Kienholz earned MVP and Most Outstanding Back honors for his performance. Kienholz told the Capital Journal what he was thinking when the Govs were down in the second half.

“We needed to battle back and stay positive,” Kienholz said. “We needed to come back in that second half and work hard. Everyone had that engraved in their brain. We all had to make plays out there.”

Junior Jack Merkwan had four catches for 121 yards, while sophomore Jett Zabel had three catches for 113 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Josh Rydberg had 1.5 sacks, while junior Deegan Houska had seven unassisted tackles. Junior lineman Christian Busch was named the Most Outstanding Lineman for his performance on the offensive line.

The Titans were led by senior quarterback Cael Lundin, who completed 11 of 25 passes for 262 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Junior running back Chase Van Tol had 18 carries for 116 yards.

The Govs end their season with a record of 10-2, while the Titans are 11-1. Seniors on the Govs roster are Matthew Hanson, Spencer Kelly, Josh Strand, Michael Jackley, Noah Williams, Nathan Williams, Austin Foley, Cole Peterson, Lucas Jones, Spencer Letellier, Gary Nedved, Jaden Flor, Hayden Espy, Kyle Albertson, Ryan Otkin, Brady Getz, Jace Charron, Alec Pickard, Alano Lorenzen, Matyas Pribyl and Tajir Bennett.

Scott Millard | 605-295-8429

Scott Millard has been the sports reporter for the Capital Journal since 2017. He was previously an intern with the Capital Journal during the summer of 2016.

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