Cozad’s 35-7 semi-final win ends Card season
Joe Flanagan, Albion News
They call them the Haymakers in Cozad.
That’s surely an agricultural reference.
However, haymakers are exactly what the hosts threw at Boone Central/Newman Grove in Tuesday’s Class C1 semi-final showdown at Haymaker Stadium.
Jake Paulsen’s 47-yard touchdown bolt late in the first half jumpstarted Cozad’s 35-7 victory. A 33-yard pass completion from Nathan Bubak to Conor Young set up a two-yard Paulsen TD that made it 14-0 at halftime. Colin Wetovick burst 37 yards for a score that put Cozad up 21-0 and the Haymakers answered Boone Central/Newman Grove’s only touchdown with a 48-yard TD bomb from Bubak to Young.
The punches kept coming from the Cozad defense. A powerful Haymaker front line and quick, swarming linebackers stymied Cardinal QB Wyatt Mazour and the BC/NG rushing attack and intercepted three Mazour aerials.
Much of the credit for Cozad’s success Tuesday goes to its ‘big boys’ up front. Paulsen and Wetovick used open spaces between the tackles to peck, peck, peck away with five, six and seven-yard gains – then, bam, the Haymakers would throw, well, big-play haymakers.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals, who entered the contest averaging 40 points per game, were held to less than four scores for the first time all season – and mustered only 47 yards in the first half.
It left everyone in Cardinal red – players, coaches and fans – stunned.
“That’s not like us,” acknowledged BC/NG Coach Arnie Johnson.
One bad step spelled a fair amount of doom for Boone Central/Newman Grove.
Mazour got up from a second-quarter carry limping noticeably, having had his ankle stepped on during the play. It robbed much of the dynamic junior’s mobility for the rest of the game – and the Cardinal offense it’s biggest threat.
“There were games he’d get almost five hundred yards offense, running and passing,” noted Johnson. “Those times where he usually makes people miss just weren’t quite there.”
Mazour, who had rushed for 1,228 yards and passed for 1,608, was limited to 19 yards on 15 carries Tuesday and completed just 4-of-13 passes for 17 yards against the aggressive Cozad defense, which blitzed liberally when BC/NG went to its spread formations.
A healthy Paulsen, who had rushed for more than 2,000 yards in 2013, set the tone for Cozad.
After sustained drives by both teams were thwarted during the first 18 minutes, the Haymaker sprinter showed his wheels by circling the BC/NG defense and racing to the game’s initial score with six minutes remaining in the first half.
The key series of the contest may then have gone to Cozad’s defense. The Haymakers forced BC/NG into a three-and-out punt into a stiff wind to regain possession in good field position. Bubak striped a perfect pass down the sideline to Young for 33 yards to the 20 and, with the Cardinals on their heels, Paulsen bolted through a gaping hole to the two, then slipped into the end zone untouched on the following play to put Cozad ahead 14-0 at halftime.
Boone Central/Newman Grove appeared as if it might halve that lead on the first possession of the third quarter. Turning to its power-run game and halfbacks Joseph and Matthew Brugger, the Cards pounded downfield. A Mazour pass on second-and-11 hung up in the wind, however, and Young tightroped the sideline for an interception at the three-yard line.
Ninety-seven yards later, it was 21-0 and bedlam reigned on the Cozad side of the field. Paulsen ripped off a 36-yard gain in the drive and Wetovick finished it with his 37-yarder.
BC/NG recovered a Haymaker fumble at the Cozad 18 and Joseph Brugger’s two-yard TD made it 21-7 late in the third period, but three plays later Cozad answered with a final haymaker, Bubak’s 48-yard TD rainbow to Young.
Paulsen and Wetovick combined for 360 rushing yards, with Paulsen racking up 241 in 33 carries. Bubak attempted just six passes, but completed four for 108 yards.
It was a definite shock for a Cardinal program that had won eleven straight games, including six victories over C1 Top 10-rated squads, in a quest to return to the state championship game in Lincoln for a second straight season.
Despite the disappointment, Johnson said he appreciated how good the 11-1 campaign was.
“We defeated Norfolk Catholic a couple of times, we beat Columbus Lakeview and we beat Pierce,” he said. “It was a pleasure to coach these upper-classmen. They were so easy to coach, and they were such good leaders.”
More details and stats in next week’s Print & Online editions of Albion News