In many ways it was a typical first game Friday at the Boone Central athletic field, with ample miscues and penalties committed by both teams.
In the end, however, it was the host Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals who buckled down and preserved a 22-14 opening night victory over the O’Neill Eagles with a will-sapping march that drained the final 7:59 off the game clock.
O’Neill trimmed a 22-6 Boone Central/Newman Grove lead to eight points, then maintained momentum by forcing a BC/NG punt and driving to the Cardinal 14-yard line.
At that point, senior lineman Jon Merten and the Card defense stuffed a 4th-and-2 run, and BC/NG coaches called on their offense to close the curtain.
With Weston Choat shifting from center to fullback, BC/NG switched from its usual spread attack to the ‘I’ formation and bludgeoned O’Neill for one second shy of the final eight minutes. Senior Brenden Beierman carried on 10 of 13 plays, gaining 53 of the 70 yards that carried the Cardinals from their own 13-yard line to the Eagle 17.
The final first down was accomplished by the only pass of the drive, a 12-yard completion from sophomore quarterback Bryce Kennedy to senior tight end Will Frey. Ethan Dozler pounced on a fumble at the end of the play and a final Beierman run wrapped up BC/NG’s first 2018 win.
“This was a ‘find a way’ win; an all-phases win,” said Cardinal Coach Mark Hudson. “The defense scored and got a big fourth-quarter stop, special teams set us up for our final score, and the offense had a great drive in the second quarter and a gutsy drive to run the final minutes off the clock and end the game.
“We made a lot of first-game mistakes, and we hope to have a few less guys standing on the sideline on the mend this week.”
Complete details in Print & Online editions of Albion News