On a frigid night in Albion, the Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals brought the heat.
Boone Central/Newman Grove scored on each of its first six possessions and stormed to a 40-3 victory over Auburn in the first round of the 2017 Nebraska State Playoffs Friday.
The Cardinals, who missed playoff qualification for the first time since 1998 a year ago, made sure their return to the postseason was a successful one. This was the fulfillment of many long, hard hours of preparation.
“Tonight was a year’s worth of work, a year’s worth of the weight room. And it showed,” Boone Central/Newman Grove Coach Mark Hudson told reporters following the contest.
With the dominant victory, Boone Central/Newman Grove (8-2) rewarded Hudson with his first playoff win as Cardinal coach and advanced to the Class C1 quarterfinal round. The Cardinals, seeded 6th in C1, will travel to Omaha Friday to face #3 Boys Town (10-0).
And Friday’s victory was dominant, in almost every way.
Boone Central/Newman Grove outyarded Auburn 414-135 and gained 19 first downs to the Bulldogs’ eight. Defensively, the Cardinals allowed only a first-period field goal, forcing five Auburn punts, stopping two fourth-down attempts, and recovering a Bulldog fumble.
Very impressive, considering Auburn (8-2) entered the contest rushing for 377 yards per game.
Despite the cold, breezy conditions, senior QB Dylan Gentrup and the Cardinal offense was able to mix in enough aerial success with a ground stampede to render Auburn’s defense nearly helpless.
After forcing Auburn to punt on the game’s opening possession, Boone Central/Newman Grove took just four plays to score. Gentrup connected with Brenden Beierman for an 18-yard gain and, two plays later, bolted 33 yards to finish a short 52-yard scoring drive. The PAT failed.
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Auburn followed with, virtually, its only sustained offensive success of the game. Michael Lombardi had a 14-yard run for a first down and QB Drew Dixon scampered 35 yards as the Bulldogs drove to a first down at the BC/NG nine-yard line. Card defenders Garrett Cornwell and Jessie Sullivan then made consecutive tackles for one-yard losses and Auburn was forced to settle for Brody Darnell’s field goal with 4:55 remaining in the first quarter.
Boone Central/Newman Grove turned to a bit of early Halloween trickery on the ensuing possession, as Gentrup threw a perfect 36-yard TD strike to Will Frey off a double-reverse. Frey’s PAT put BC/NG on top 13-3.
Boone Central/Newman Grove turned the game into a runaway with sterling second quarter. The Cardinals forced two Auburn punts and stopped Dixon cold on a fourth-and-one play, while scoring touchdowns each time they got the ball back.
Levi Krueger ran through one tackle attempt, over another Bulldog defender, and sprinted 41 yards for a touchdown three plays into the period. He added a seven-yard score, set up by a 39-yard pass completion from Gentrup to Beierman, and Gentrup tallied on a four-yard run with 40 seconds remaining in the half.
Boone Central/Newman Grove pushed the margin past the 35-point mark on the opening possession of the third quarter. Gentrup sandwiched a pair of 15-yard completions to Frey around his own 32-yard run, then capped the 80-yard, six-play drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Dozler.
That set in motion a running clock and a mercifully quick end to the lopsided contest.
Further details in Print & Online editions of Albion News