Even on a good night, it might have been tough for a fledgling Rapid City Central squad to compete with top-ranked Sioux Falls Washington.
Start the game with two turnovers, however, and you’re dialing up a disaster.
The Cobblers fumbled the ball on each of their first two possessions, leading to a pair of scores, and the Warriors were off and running. The class of Class 11AA dominated the line of scrimmage throughout an impressive first half as the Warriors overwhelmed Central 54-7 at O’Harra Stadium on Friday.
Washington built a 41-0 lead at halftime, rushing for 211 yards in the first two quarters. Devonte Clay led the attack with 90 yards and two touchdowns, while Brandon Mohr added two of his own on just four carries.
Starting quarterback Matt Hermanson was 2-for-4 for 67 yards, including a 20-yard pass down the middle to Keyen Lage with 7:31 remaining in the second to make it 28-0. Hermanson ran for 75 yards and also had an interception, all in the first half.
The game couldn’t have started any worse for Central. Jake Sharp fumbled the third Cobbler carry of the night. Eli Auch fell on the ball for the Warriors, and Clay scampered 7 yards two plays later for his first score.
On the following drive, a bad snap resulted in the ball squirting out into the open, and Serkaut Aware picked up the ball in space and returned it 21 yards to make it 14-0 just 3:45 in.
“We’ve been telling the kids all year long that a team like us, with the offense that we run, we can’t afford turnovers,” Cobblers head coach Trent Pikula said. “We don’t have that quick-strike capability where we’re going to throw the ball 40 times and score points. But we just can’t turn the ball over.”
While the Washington offense was moving at will, the Warrior defense was controlling the line of scrimmage. The Cobblers managed just 41 yards on 19 carries in the first half and 205 yards for the game.
Central’s lone touchdown followed a Washington fumble in the red zone in the fourth quarter. The score came on the next play, a 94-yard run by Sharp, who finished with 126 yards on 16 carries.
Sam Cooke had a 58-yard rushing touchdown early in the second half to make it 47-0, and Scott Strand caught a 23-yard pass from Jon Hander following the Sharp touchdown for the Warriors’ final score. Hander was 7-of-8 passing for 107 yards.
Cobblers quarterback J.T. Harper was 1-of-4 passing for just 2 yards and the interception, which occurred late in the second quarter. Pikula gave his team credit for not giving up in the second half, but he was visibly disappointed with his team’s performance.
“We still haven’t played a game of four quarters of good football,” he said. “Up until this point, every game we’ve had two good quarters. In this one, we didn’t play well at all.”
Central (1-4 overall) next travels to Mitchell to try and contain the Kernels’ option attack. Washington (5-0) hosts Brookings.