STURGIS, S.D. – The Sturgis Scoopers battled through an evenly matched first half and wore down the Spearfish Spartans, scoring four times in the second half to blow out their crosstown rivals, 46-14 in the season finale for both teams.
The Sturgis Scooper faithful honored 12 senior players and one senior student manager prior to the game, highlighting each player and their families on the field.
The Scooper defense held the Spartans on their first drive and took over with good field position at the Spearfish 48-yard line. Sturgis used a good mix of running and passing to drive the ball to the Spartan 24, where Scooper senior quarterback Aiden Hedderman did the rest, sprinting through the Spearfish defense for a 24-yard touchdown run to open the scoring.
Sturgis linebacker Dawson Inhofer blocked a Spearfish punt on their next series, putting the Scoopers in the red zone at the 15-yard line. The Spartan defense held strong, forcing Sturgis kicker Sully Jost to settle for an 11-yard field goal. The Scoopers led 10-0 at the end of the first quarter.
A roughing the passer penalty on Sturgis early in the second quarter extended a Spearfish offensive drive, allowing quarterback Seth Hamilton to run in a six-yard touchdown, cutting into the Sturgis lead with 10:38 left before the half.
The Scoopers put together another long drive midway through the second quarter, but the Spartan defense stopped the Sturgis offense again. Jost booted his longest field goal of the season from 45 yards out to give the Scoopers a 13-7 lead with 4:29 left in the second.
Spearfish took over on their own 26-yard line following the kickoff and three plays later, Hamilton found Hunter Walters down the right sideline for a 66-yard bomb, giving Spearfish a 14-13 lead at the half.
The Scoopers were forced to punt on their first series of the second half. Jesse Lane came up with a huge play for Sturgis, stripping the ball from punt returner Evan Wilson and the Scoopers took over on the Spartan 26-yard line. Jost ran the ball in from one-yard out a few plays later, giving Sturgis a 19-14 lead after the two-point conversion failed.
The Spartans turned the ball over again after Hamilton fumbled a bad snap with 6:32 left in the third. Aiden Werlinger pounced on the ball for Sturgis at the Spearfish 26-yard line, giving the Scoopers excellent field position. Hedderman found Teigen Wormstadt with a short pass to the right sideline and Wormstadt did the rest, juking the Spartan defense and running it in for a score from 23-yards out. The Scoopers extended their lead to 26-14.
The two Spearfish turnovers seemed to take the wind out of the Spartans and Sturgis rolled through the fourth quarter, adding three more rushing touchdowns from Jost, Hedderman and Owen Udager, cruising to a 46-14 victory. Scooper head coach Chris Koletzky said the coaches challenged the players after the close first half.
“Spearfish really took our best punch in the first half, scoring their two touchdowns, so we had to find a way to counter,” Koletzky said. We figured out a few things up front to communicate to our offensive linemen what (Spearfish) was doing on defense and once they figured that out we blocked it up a little cleaner. It was like how are we going to react, how bad do we want this?”
The Scoopers finished with 401 yards of total offense, 281 on the ground and 120 through the air on 12 of 20 passing. Hedderman finished with 146 yards rushing on 19 carries with two touchdowns. Udager had 13 carries for 67 yards and a score and Jost added two touchdowns and 50 yards on the ground. Wormstadt had four catches for 47 yards and a touchdown and Dalyn Dschaak collected five catches and 34 yards. The Scoopers did not turn the ball over and had seven penalties for 65 yards.
Spearfish finished the night with 193 yards of offense. The Spartans were 10 of 24 passing for 168 yards and had 25 yards rushing on 21 carries. Hunter Walters had a great night for Spearfish, carrying the ball nine times for 51 yards and catching six balls for 107 yards and a score. The Spartans had two fumbles and eight penalties for 44 yards. Spearfish finishes the regular season with four straight losses and a record of 4-5 and will travel to Pierre for a first-round playoff game.
“Hats off to Spearfish,” added Koletzky. “Those boys came out hard and fighting, they were down several guys to injuries this year, they had some bad luck this year, but they came out and fought. We did see them get a little bit tired in the second half.”
Sturgis finishes with a 6-3 record on the year and will take on Tea Area for a first-round playoff game next Thursday.