This is a whole new season.
Check out what Yankton did to Pierre, the three-time defending champion which came in with an 18-game winning streak, on Friday night.
Senior Corbin Sohler combined for four touchdowns and the Bucks’ defense dominated the second half on the way to a 52-29 thrashing of the top-ranked Governors at Crane-Youngworth Field.
Certainly every victory is big, but this particular one had a different feel, according to Yankton head coach Brady Muth.
“It’s big,” he said, as his players celebrated with their classmates by the student section.
“I’m really happy for our guys. They learned a really good lesson this week, that if they put in a week of hard work, things like this can happen.”
A number of guys rose to the occasion for the Bucks (3-0), but perhaps none bigger than Sohler.
After missing all of last season with a knee injury (and was forced to watch his teammates suffer a 63-0 loss to Pierre), he rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns, and also caught a touchdown pass.
Following a crazy second quarter in which a total of 51 points were scored, Yankton out-scored Pierre 20-0 in the third quarter to take control — thanks in large part to its defense.
Sophomore Cody Oswald intercepted three passes in the second half, and senior Aidan Feser recorded an interception and a fumble recovery in the victory.
On one particular Pierre drive late in the third quarter, Oswald actually intercepted two passes, but the first was negated on a penalty. No worry, though, he picked off another to give Yankton the ball back — the Bucks later scored.
Two more interceptions followed for Oswald, but nobody on the Yankton sideline was shocked by their sophomore’s abilities, according to Muth.
“A lot of people may be surprised by Cody, but I’m not,” he said. “He didn’t get a lot of reps early on, but that’s one of the best performances by a (defensive back) I’ve seen in a long time.”
After Pierre scored on the game’s opening drive, the Bucks later used some trickery to get themselves rolling.
On a 4th & 3 play, sophomore Gavin Swanson kept the snap and ran 44 yards on a fake punt down to the 2-yard line. Trevor Fitzgerald later scored on a 2-yard touchdown run, and the Bucks then went for two and converted.
After Pierre missed a field goal on its next drive, the Bucks converted a 56-yard pass play from Fitzgerald to sophomore Cameron Zahrbock. Fitzgerald then scored on a 5-yard run and Yankton built a 15-7 lead.
The Governors then fumbled on their next play and Yankton took advantage with a Sohler 1-yard TD run at the 5:23 mark.
Pierre then scored on a 79-yard touchdown pass, then intercepted a Fitzgerald pass and then got a 17-yard touchdown pass. Suddenly, the game was tied 22-22 at the 4:11 mark.
On the next drive, Yankton sophomore quarterback Rugby Ryken threw a short outside pass to Sohler, and he took it the rest of the way for a 79-yard touchdown. Pierre, though, answered to tie the game 29-29.
That’s the way things stood into halftime.
Sohler’s 11-yard TD run midway through the third quarter put the Bucks back in front.
After Oswald intercepted a pass late in the third quarter, Sohler ran 62 yards for a touchdown. Oswald then intercepted a second pass, this time running in for a 36-yard touchdown.
That gave the Bucks a 49-29 lead with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.
A 33-yard field goal by sophomore Trevor Paulsen pushed the Yankton margin to 52-29 at the 5:33 mark of the fourth quarter.
All that was left was the final horn and a celebration.
“That’s a special thing right there,” Muth said, as he pointed to the locker room.
“That’s a group that believes in each other. We’ll be really tough to beat if we have that kind of team chemistry all season.”
The Bucks — who will likely assume the No. 1 spot in next week’s Class 11AA media poll — will play in the DakotaDome next Friday when they face Vermillion at 7 p.m.
Even following the 23-point victory over Pierre, Yankton will go into next with some areas to work on, according to Muth.
“There’s still a lot to fix; we had way too many penalties, but by no means was this our best football,” he said.
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PIERRE (2-1) 7 22 0 0 — 29
YANKTON (3-0) 0 29 20 3 — 52
PHS — Maguire Raske, 20-yard run (Carston Miller kick); 7:53
YHS — Trevor Fitzgerald, 2-yard run (conversion good); 10:45
YHS — Fitzgerald, 5-yard run (Gavin Fortner kick); 6:14
YHS — Corbin Sohler, 1-yard run (Fortner kick); 5:23
PHS — Zach Letellier, 79-yard pass from Lincoln Kienholz (Miller kick); 5:06
PHS — Regan Bollweg, 17-yard pass from Kienholz (conversion good); 4:11
YHS — Sohler, 72-yard pass from Rugby Ryken (Fortner kick); 2:45
PHS — Raske, 12-yard run (Miller kick); 1:35
YHS — Sohler, 11-yard run (Fortner kick); 6:20
YHS — Sohler, 62-yard run (Fortner kick); 1:19
YHS — Cody Oswald, 36-yard interception return (conversion no good); 0:56
YHS — Trevor Paulsen, 33-yard field goal; 5:33