NORTH SIOUX CITY, S.D. | Dell Rapids continued its storybook trip in the South Dakota Class 11A state football playoffs Friday night.
However, its latest victory came with a possible cost. Logan Ellingson, whose 65-yard touchdown catch with 7:42 left in the fourth quarter of a 25-22 semifinal upset over third-seeded Dakota Valley, left the game, via ambulance after he was among the Quarriers involved on a tackle to Sam Chesterman in the game’s closing minute.
The game stopped for close to 10 minutes as paramedics and trainers examined the 5-foot-10, 145-pound Dell Rapids junior, who had scored three touchdowns for the seventh-seeded squad, which will take a 7-4 record into next Thursday’s Class 11A state championship game at Vermillion’s DakotaDome against top-seeded Tea Area (10-1).
Ellingson returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to tie the game 7-all, then snapped the tie with an 11-yard catch later in the first quarter. Ellingson, who had a 47-yard touchdown catch in a 14-13 quarterfinal upset over second-seeded (and defending 11A champion Madison), finished with eight catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re not sure how he is,” said Dell Rapids Coach Jordan Huska. “We’re going to be hopefully hearing from him and his parents as soon as they know anything. He was in on a pile. It looked like maybe he took a knee to the head.
“He’s a special kid. He’s been a special player for us all year. He’s been making plays to help us be in this position all year long. Hopefully he’s all right. His health is the most important thing.”
Ellingson was involved in one of the plays during an entertaining game that featured four lead changes. Chesterman, who rushed 23 times for 122 yards for Coach Jeff VanDenHul’s Panthers, took part in two of those game-changers, giving his team a 14-13 lead on a 5-yard run with 40 seconds left in the third quarter.
Chesterman, who ended his season with 1,095 yards rushing, scored at the end of 9-play, 54-yard drive. However, Dell Rapids marched 70 yards on six plays during the ensuing drive. Ellingson’s 49-yard catch to the Panthers’ 6-yard line set up quarterback Eddie Price, whose 6-yard run produced a 19-14 lead.
Dakota Valley (9-2) responded with a four-play, 65-yard scoring drive. Chesterman took advantage of blocks from center Liam Tureaud and quick guard Mitchell Kistner to rush for a 50-yard touchdown, then tacked on the two-point conversion run for a 22-19 lead with 8:39 left.
“You hate to see anybody go out with an injury like that,” said VanDenHul, referring to Ellingson, who scored the go-ahead touchdown 57 seconds later.
“Our effort was great,” he added. “We never question the effort of the kids. It was just too many mistakes. You get two even teams and we made a lot of mistakes. There were a couple of penalties that went against us and a fumble and an interception. You can’t win playoff games that way.”
Quarterback Nate Rice carried for a game-high 150 yards and finished his senior season with 1,810 yards for a team bidding for its second straight 11A title game appearance. He had five double-digit gains, but he lost the ball on a 10-yarder and the Quarriers’ Tate Kolbeck recovered a fumble at his 35-yard line with six minutes left.
Dakota Valley, which prevented Dell Rapids from scoring at the conclusion of a 21-play, 69-yard drive that ate up nearly 9 ½ minutes of second-quarter clock, forced a three-and-out. Rice broke loose for an 18-yard gain and Chesterman added a 15-yard rush on a series that featured a Panthers holding penalty.
Chesterman ran six yards to the 29. But on a fourth-down play after Ellingson was taken off the field, defensive lineman Drew Van Regenmorter threw Chesterman for a 13-yard loss that ended the Panthers’ season.
“I love them,” said VanDenHul. “They had a couple of big plays, otherwise we shut them down. That No. 8 (Ellingson) is really good. For the most part, we shut them down running the ball and doing anything else. They had a couple of big plays and the kickoff return.”