BOX ELDER, SD – The Sturgis Scoopers used a punishing ground game to beat the Douglas Patriots at Dave Brodie Field, 45-21 on Friday night.
The Scoopers got on the scoreboard on their first drive of the ball game as senior quarterback Aiden Hedderman executed a perfect fake to running back Byron Holt, then ran the ball in from 11-yards out to give the Scoopers a 7-0 lead.
Douglas began their first drive from their own 35-yard line, moving the ball down field 65 yards in five plays, culminating in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Steven Koper to Jason Fisher, tying the game at 7-7 with 6;19 left in the first quarter.
Sturgis scored on their next drive, a six-yard touchdown run by Sully Jost to give the Scoopers a 14-7 lead. Sturgis recovered an onside kick following the touchdown, then hit paydirt on a 45-yard TD scamper by Hedderman on the first play from scrimmage to give the Scoopers a 21-7 lead headed into the second quarter.
The Patriots had great field position at the Scooper 45-yard line following a muffed punt by Hedderman early in the second quarter, but turned the ball over on downs. Sturgis marched the ball downfield quickly on their next series, putting together a four-play, 64-yard drive, ending in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Hedderman to Jadon Blair. The Scoopers led 28-7.
Sturgis kept running the football, cashing in two more times before the half on a 14-yard touchdown run by Hedderman and a 41-yard touchdown run by Jost to give the Scoopers a 42-7 lead just before the half. Douglas fumbled on their next series and Sturgis recovered at the Patriot 37. Four plays later, Jost split the uprights with a 42-yard field goal and the Scoopers led Douglas 45-7 at the half. It was a great first half for Jost, who is just a sophomore.
“(Sully) is a great kid,” Koletzky said. “As he gets older and we get him out on the defense a bit, about the only thing he won’t do for us is drive the bus. He’s just a kid that we love, he’s a great kid and it’s nice to give him that shot to kind of see where his range is at there (on field goals) and for him to hit if flush like that is pretty cool.”
Due to the 38-point lead, the second half featured a running play clock. Scooper head coach Chris Koletzky brought in his reserves on offense and defense and Douglas scored on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Koper to Fisher on their first drive of the third quarter and Sturgis led 45-14. The Patriots scored with just :18 seconds left in the game on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Koper to Isiah Brewer to end the scoring.
“Hats off to Douglas in the second half,” said Koletzky. “The effort and the mentality that they came out to fight until the end. That shows that Coach Will Velez got his boys rallied up for Senior Night and have those boys finish strong.”
Sturgis (5-3) finished with 358 yards of total offense, 284 yards on the ground and 74 yards passing. Jost finished with 111 yards rushing on six carries with two touchdowns. Hedderman had three touchdowns with 84 yards rushing. Hedderman and Carter Williams combined for five completions on 15 passing attempts. Blair caught one pass for a 31-yard touchdown.
Douglas (1-7) had 260 yards of offense, 146 yards rushing and 114 yards passing. Koper finished 8 of 14 passing for 114 yards and three touchdowns. Sophomore Paiden Sandal had nine carries for 55 yards on the ground for the Patriots.
The Scoopers wrap up their regular season next Thursday at Woodle Field as they host the Spearfish Spartans, who got throttled by Watertown on Friday night, 42-7.
“The Spearfish we’re going to get is the Spearfish that put up 50 points in numerous games in the first half of the season,” Koletzky said. “They’re a very explosive team, they have a lot of athletes, and you know this game, they’ve gotten us the last two years. So we’ve got to be ultra-prepared, ultra-ready. I told the guys that every guy on the team has to prepare to win that game with every fiber of their being and have the will to prepare all week, because that is a game that will really shake out things in the playoffs.”