HARRISBURG – In a battle to secure the No. 2 seed heading into the 11AA playoffs, Yankton crushed Harrisburg 28-0 to finish the regular season with a record of 6-3. The Bucks are looking to defend their 2014 championship, and they’re peaking at the right time.
Midway through the season, the Bucks were shutout in back-to-back games to against Pierre and O’Gorman, and were outscored 66-0 in the process. That clearly was a wake-up call for the defending champs, as they’ve now won three straight heading into the playoffs, outscoring their opponents 107-32 over that span.
Yankton’s Tanner Frick led the way for the Bucks with 112 yards on just seven carries, three of those for touchdowns. Brendon Caskey added three catches for 80 yards and a touchdown.
“We came out pretty focused and executed really well,” Yankton coach Arlin Likness said. “This is the best focus we’ve had all year. We’ll take this and feel pretty good about it.”
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Harrisburg may have been able to keep things close in the opening half if not for some sloppy tackling. Two of Yankton’s three first-half touchdowns should have never been. Frick’s 64-yard touchdown run was the most glaring, as the senior running back looked to be stopped several times before scoring to make it 14-0 as time expired in the opening quarter.
“Frick has got some wheels,” Likness said. “He’s a little shifty and kind of deceptive.”
On Harrisburg’s next drive, Brendan Caskey took a short pass from Nate Stephenson and scampered 67 yards to score. Caskey also looked to be stuffed multiple times before breaking free and making it 21-0. At halftime, the Bucks had outgained Harrisburg 266-101, and the Tigers never responded.
“Combined with a missed tackle here and there, and our guys turned the gas pedals on made some good things happen,” Likness said. “We’ll take that anytime we can get it.”
After receiving the ball to open the half, Harrisburg turned it over on the first play from scrimmage when Dylan Tams fumbled on the Tigers’ 47-yard line. Seven plays later, Yankton made it insurmountable when Frick scored from four yards out to make it 28-0 with 8:17 to play in the third quarter.
Other than the fumble, Tams had a solid night. He rushed for 119 yards on 14 carries, but that was really the only Harrisburg offensive output all night. The Tigers finished with a total of 203 yards as a team.
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Harrisburg’s only real scoring threat came later in the third quarter, but were stopped on the Yankton six-yard line on fourth down when quarterback Hunter Headlee was sacked for a nine yard loss, and Harrisburg turned it over on downs. Headlee finished 2-for-7 for 13 yards passing.
“We’ve had a little of a roller coaster and we’ve had a lot of injuries, but we’ve got some kids that say never quit,” Likness said. “We wanted to be at our best going into the playoffs, and hopefully getting our focus back, we can do that. I think our kids ready to go after it and see if we can make a run.”