The Canton and Lennox High School football teams clashed in a heart-pounding first-round playoff showdown this past Thursday, Oct. 26. Despite being down late in the fourth, Lennox showed determination emerging victorious in a 28-22 nail-biter.
Lennox was the first to reach the scoreboard as Boston Katzer connected with Tate Gerdes on a touchdown pass just 8:35 seconds into the opening quarter. Unfortunately, they couldn’t convert the two-point attempt, giving them a 6-0 lead.
Canton struck back at the beginning of the second quarter, leveling the score and setting the stage at 6-6.
In the second quarter, Lennox faced a pivotal fourth down and decided to go for it. Gerdes managed to secure a first down, and a few plays later, he spectacularly slipped past multiple tackles to score a touchdown with just 6:24 seconds left in the quarter. A two-point conversion from Katzer to Porter Ihnen extended Lennox’s lead to 14-6.
Canton, however, returned the kickoff for a touchdown, knotting the score at 14-14 and just before halftime, Canton managed to sneak in another touchdown with a successful two-point conversion, taking a 22-14 lead at the half.
The third quarter remained scoreless.
However, the fourth quarter brought another surge of excitement as Lennox’s Katzer found Ihnen for a crucial touchdown pass. They missed the critical two-point conversion, and found themselves still trailing, 20-22.
Lennox was able to get the ball back and with just two minutes left on the clock, Katzer delivered a long pass to Ihnen, setting Lennox up at the 30-yard line. A false start briefly setback Lennox, but Canton committed a pass interference penalty that brought Lennox to the 11-yard line. With only 33 seconds remaining, Katzer connected with Drake Mikkelsen for a touchdown, propelling Lennox to a 26-22 lead. The ensuing successful two-point conversion extended their lead to 28-22.
As the game clock dwindled to just 19 seconds, Canton was unable to stage a comeback, and Lennox emerged as the victor, launching them into the semi-finals.
“Canton was a tough opponent, and the players did a great job of riding the highs and lows of the game,” commented LHS head coach Shawn Flanagan. “They did a great job of executing their assignments and playing with a lot of effort.”
Lennox will now head to Hartford this Friday, Nov. 3, to face West Central in the semi-final action at 7 p.m.
Coach Flanagan acknowledges the challenge that awaits, stating, “West Central is a well-coached team that is physical and very assignment sound. We need to be able to execute at a very high level to win.”
The winner of this upcoming battle will advance to the State Championship on Friday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. at the DakotaDome in Vermillion, where they will face the winner of the Dell Rapids vs. Sioux Falls Christian matchup, also scheduled for Nov. 3.
Against Canton, Katzer finished the night completing 20 of 30 pass attempts for 242 yards and three touchdowns. Tate Gerdes led the rushing attack with 82 yards on the night on 16 carries. Katzer rushed for 62 on 13 carries. Porter Ihnen finished the night with 135 receiving yards, grabbing nine passes. Chase Faulds had 33 receiving yards on two catches and Mikkelsen had 23 yards on two grabs. Tate Gerdes also grabbed three passes for 14 yards.
Defensively, Journey Noisy Hawk-Ellis stepped up with a fumble recovery. Carter Benning, Emory Lefers, and Ramsey Williams led the team in tackles with four each and Ethan Larson had three.