Panthers earn home victory over Vermillion

The Dakota Valley Panthers' offense didn't see much of the ball in the first quarter, but that didn't slow down their offense after the first quarter.

The Panthers took on the Vermillion Tanagers in the first round of the South Dakota 11A playoffs at the DakotaDome on Tuesday night, with the Panthers defeating the Tanagers 21-11.

Junior Matt Lupkes powered the Panthers offense with 21 carries for 118 yards, with two touchdowns and had seven passes for 60 yards, throwing for one touchdown. He also had seven tackles.

For the Tanagers, senior Jordan Robinson had five carries for 76 yards and had the biggest rush of the night which was a 67 yard touchdown run. The defensive leaders of the game were the Mart brothers; Nick Mart had nine tackles, while Will Mart had eight tackles.

The first quarter the possession was held mostly by the Tanagers, only allowing the Panthers three plays on offense for the first quarter. There were multiple penalties that kept the Tanagers out of the end zone and running down most the first quarter clock.

"That was vintage Vermillion football back when they won all those state championships in the 90's, they sucked the clock down by running the ball," said Dakota Valley head coach Jason Jund. "It was a great drive by Vermillion, it is good that we only kept them to three points."

In the second quarter, the Tanagers finally scored, but they were only able put three points on the board. The Panthers were able to march down the field scoring in only eight plays and was finished off by a 14 yard touchdown run by Matt Lupkes.

The Tanagers couldn't score on their next drive, but they were able to hold off the Panthers. The Tanagers started at their own 30 yard line and were able to get one first down, but Earl Kiertzner threw the only interception of the night. Matt Lupkes took the Panthers offense down the field, they were able to run out the clock and score their second touchdown, with a pass from Lupkes to Senior Ryan Cook.

"Penalties ended up keeping us out the end zone," said Vermillion head coach Gary Culver. "The biggest key of the night was when Dakota Valley scored right before the half."

After halftime, the third quarter started off with a drive from the Tanagers.

The Panthers ended up getting a couple of first downs, but had to punt the ball away. It only took three plays for the Tanagers to score their second touchdown of the night, which was a 67 yard run by Jordan Robinson.

The Tanagers needed to get the two point conversion, but with two false start penalties, they were pushed back to the 17 yard line. They still attempted the two point conversion and Robinson ended up running the ball in from 17 yards out, which narrowed the Panthers lead to only three points.

The last quarter of the game was taken care of by Dakota Valley, as it took them 13 plays to go down the field and score on a six yard touchdown run by Lupkes.

The Tanagers took the ball down the field, but they ended up fumbling the ball and it was recovered by the Panthers. That didn't do any damage because the Tanagers were able to hold the Panthers to only three plays.

The Tanagers weren't able to put their offense together and ended up turning the ball over on downs. Matt Lupkes kneed the ball to end the game.

Dakota Valley advances to second round of the playoffs, where they will travel to Harrisburg on Monday.

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