Although the Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals sputtered a bit at the start Friday night, once their engine caught, it was off to the races.
BC/NG rode a suffocating defensive performance and a six-minute scoring explosion late in the first half to a 43-0 victory over host Grand Island Central Catholic (0-8).
The Cardinals completed the regular season 7-2 overall, 5-0 in C1-6 District play, and are the #6 seed in the Class C1 state playoffs that begin Friday, Oct. 27. Boone Central/Newman Grove will host #11 Auburn (8-1) at 7 p.m.
BC/NG took a quick 2-0 lead at Grand Island, courtesy of Central Catholic sailing a punt snap through its own end zone for a safety on the game’s initial possession.
The Cardinal offense did not get off to a fast start, fumbling on the ensuing possession and punting on BC/NG’s second drive. The Card defense gave its offense time to fine tune, however, forcing GICC to punt on eight straight possessions in the first half. In pitching its third shutout of the season, BC/NG allowed the Crusaders just 113 total yards.
The Cardinals put together their first sustained drive late in the first quarter, churning 57 yards in 14 plays. Dylan Gentrup covered the final yard on the first play of the second period to put BC/NG on top 8-0 (two-point conversion attempt failed.)
“We got off to a slow start, which we were worried about,” said Card Coach Mark Hudson. “They were giving us a different look defensively than we expected, with lots of blitzes.
“Once we were able to find a formation we could establish the run game with, it made everything else open up and we were able to capitalize on some opportunities in the second quarter.”
Beginning with just under eight minutes to play in the opening half, Boone Central/Newman Grove unleashed a scoring flurry that essentially ended the contest.
First, Levi Krueger burst 57 yards for a Cardinal touchdown and, following GICC’s sixth punt, Trey Schafer turned Gentrups short dump pass into a 78-yard touchdown bolt. BC/NG forced yet another Crusader punt and Gentrup followed with a 60-yard scoring ramble on first down to put the Cardinals ahead 29-0.
Central Catholic managed three first downs on its next possession, but BC/NG blocked a 59-yard field goal attempt, recovering the football with 1:17 remaining in the second quarter. Three plays later, Gentrup and Krueger combined on a 31-yard touchdown pass and 36-0 halftime lead.
Boone Central/Newman Grove took the second half kickoff and quickly added its final touchdown on a five-play, 59-yard drive capped by Gentrup’s 17-yard TD pass to Ethan Dozler.
With a running clock after intermission due to the 35-point margin, the remainder of the game went quickly. The Cardinals were thwarted on two drives when fourth-down attempts came up short, while GICC punted once again and had a pass intercepted by Cardinal senior Cody Nelson.
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