NORTH SIOUX CITY | Pine Ridge was up against two immovable objects Thursday night – the wind and the Dakota Valley High School football team.
Then, after a 58-0 beat down that mercifully ended at halftime, the Thorpes immediately piled into a bus for a six-plus hour ride home.
Second-ranked Dakota Valley was way too much for Pine Ridge to handle in a South Dakota Class 11A first-round playoff game at Robert L. Peterson Memorial Stadium.
The Panthers scored at will and it didn’t matter whether they were operating into a wind that was gusting upwards of 40 miles-per-hour or with the gale force.
Dakota Valley racked up 30 points by the end of the first quarter and tacked on 28 more before halftime. South Dakota High School Athletic Association rules state that when a team is ahead by 50 or more points at halftime, the game is over.
The unbeaten Panthers (10-0) will host a second-round game next Friday (Nov. 3) against fourth-ranked St. Thomas More (8-2), which beat No. 3 Dell Rapids for their seventh straight win on Thursday.
“The big thing is we came out of this one healthy,” Dakota Valley Coach Jeff VanDenHul said. “That’s what we have to get out of a game like this. We were able to do a few things and the weather played a huge role, it just changed the whole game and it worked to our advantage.”
The wind was so fierce that when Pine Ridge punted from its own 6-yard line on its first possession, it blew it backward to the 1-yard line. A play later, Dakota Valley quarterback Zach Poulsen scored and the rout was on.
Pine Ridge only advanced past its own 20 once in the first quarter and on that occasion fumbled it away to the Panthers.
Sam Chesterman rushed for 121 yards and scored on long jaunts of 38 and 52 yards for Dakota Valley, which had 240 yards – all on the ground. Austin Carter tacked on 81 yards and a touchdown while also returning an interception 36 yards for the game’s final touchdown just before halftime. Carter had a team-high four tackles and a fumble recovery.
“We came into this week just looking at the next rep and next game in front of us, not looking past that,” Carter said. “We came out tonight and played physical and got the job done.
“We’re definitely looking to be at the dome (state championship) but we have to keep reminding ourselves that it’s real important we’re not looking past our next opponent, really focusing on the next week and game.”
Chase Hammerstrom plowed in for a pair of short touchdown runs and Nate Rice scooted seven yards for a score. The Panthers also got a safety when Pine Ridge snapped the ball out of the end zone while in shotgun formation.
Dakota Valley held the Thorpes to 75 total yards on 37 plays and 105 of those were through the air when Pine Ridge had the wind at its back. The Thorpes rushed 17 times for a minus-30 yards.
“Defense was really good again but the wind plays a huge advantage there when you make a team one-dimensional,” VanDenHul said. “We’ve been able to defend the run all year so that made it pretty easy for us. We’re really looking forward to seeing what we’re made of because it only gets harder from here.”
An inadvertent whistle probably prevented Pine Ridge from getting on the scoreboard late in the first half. The Thorpes scooped up a fumble deep in their own territory and looked like they were headed for the end zone, but for some reason officials blew the play dead on the recovery.
On the very next play, Carter stepped in front of a Halin Bad Bear pass and took it all the way to the end zone.
“Our defense is awesome, we have a lot of returning starters from last year,” Carter said. “We’ve had some players step up and play key roles and it’s been big for us.”
Pine Ridge’s Bad Bear put it in the air 17 times, completing six for 105 yards. Cecil Apple had four receptions for 64 yards.