VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) — Dell Rapids St. Mary needed two overtimes, but they were able to win their first ever football state championship, 44-42 over Potter County.
The Cardinals trailed by eight-win under two minutes to play. That’s when quarterback CJ Smith connected with Nic Gaspar for the game-tying touchdown.
Potter County drove all the way down to the two-yard line, but time would run out, ending regulation with the two teams tied at 28.
Both teams would score a touchdown, with ease, in the first overtime. They also added the two-point conversion.
In the second overtime, Potter County scored first with a one-play, ten-yard touchdown. However, their two-point conversion attempt was stopped. The Battlers lead 42-36.
Dell Rapids St. Mary would answer with a two-yard touchdown run by Gaspar. That’s when Smith found Gabriel Lindeman for the two-point conversion. It was a walk-off state championship win for the Cardinals.
Nic Gaspar led the Cardinals as he rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He also hauled in three catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
CJ Smith was 5-12 for 98 passing yards and two touchdowns. He also had an interception, but delivered some crucial throws that gave the Cardinals a chance late.
Potter County was led by a strong performance from quarterback Grant Luikens. He was named the Joe Robbie MVP for the game. He was 16-25 for 297 yards and four touchdowns, while also throwing two interceptions. He rushed for 15 yards and two scores.
The lineman of the game went to Dell Rapids St. Mary’s John Pica.
The key in the game was the rushing attack. St. Mary rushed 61 times to Potter County’s 22. In the process, the Cardinals outrushed the Battlers 247-22.
That led to a significant time of possession difference. DRSM had the ball for 31 minutes and 33 seconds, while Potter County had the ball for less than 17 minutes.
Thursday’s state title victory is the first football state championship in school history for Dell Rapids St. Mary. The Cardinals finished runner-up in 2020, 2009 and 2002.