Close. Oh so close.
Class C1 #4 Boone Central/Newman Grove built a 31-21 lead over #1 Norfolk Catholic, two-time defending C1 state champion, Friday night in Albion before the Knights staged a fourth-quarter rally, scoring the final winning touchdown in a 35-31 thriller with 1:06 to play.
A terrific high school football game. An “instant classic” type contest. A preview of squads that will figure prominantly in the 2012 playoff picture.
In fact, veteran Norfolk Catholic Coach Jeff Bellar called it “a big-time playoff atmosphere – just a great high school football game.”
Unfortunately, for Cardinal fans, it was a game in which their team came up just short despite an impressive, valiant effort.
Still, Boone Central/Newman Grove Coach Arnie Johnson came away from back-to-back Fridays facing previous #4 and current #6 Pierce and top-ranked Catholic pleased with his team’s performance overall and optimistic about the future for his 2-1 team.
“I thought we played excellent football in the second and third quarters Friday. We were able to move the ball and make some big plays, which are always needed against a pressing defense like Norfolk Catholic,” Johnson commented. “We needed to move the ball just a little better in the fourth quarter and the victory was probably ours.
“More importantly, I felt we played better than we did the week before. We feel we can get a lot better yet, so the next week of practice without a game (bye week) can be very valuable.
“In all areas of our game we can get better,” he stressed. “This game will help us raise the bar on what we can accomplish.
“I was pleased, as I was the week before, that we were able to overcome some adversity at the beginning of the game.”
That early adversity came in the form of Catholic’s Brandon Becker intercepting a Tanner Mazour pass and setting up the Knights’ initial touchdown – a one-yard Kyle Schaefer plunge – with 5:34 to play in the first quarter.
Mazour made few mistakes from there. BC/NG’s version of “T Magic” provided nearly a season’s worth of heroics – on both sides of the ball.
Mazour’s interception of a Jordan Bellar pass halted a second Norfolk Catholic drive in the first period and he subsequently culminated a Cardinal scoring march with a two-yard TD run to pull BC/NG within 7-6 with 10:18 remaining in period two.
Overall, Mazour led Boone Central/Newman Grove rushers, darting and dashing for 79 yards in nine carries; completed 11-of-24 passes for 156 yards; and soared above 6-foot-5 Catholic TE Connor Ketter to tip away an end zone pass and momentarily preserve the Cardinals’ 31-28 lead in the game’s final minutes.
Mazour’s most vivid and dramatic highlight produced Boone Central/Newman Grove’s 10-point lead late in the third quarter, as he fielded a Knight punt along the right sideline, broke an early tackle attempt and took advantage of several key blocks, then broke through a final knot of defenders and raced the final yards to complete an electrifying 77-yard return.
Further details in Print & Online editions of Albion News