By Joe Flanagan
Crisp post-season weather. An enthusiastic throng of fans. Teams ranked #1 and #2 in Class C1.
You couldn’t have asked for much more in a high school football playoff setting Tuesday night in Albion.
And Boone Central/Newman Grove fans couldn’t ask for any more than what their Cardinals provided – a clutch 21-14 semi-final victory over previously undefeated and #1 ranked Adams Central.
Cardinal junior Derek Gentrup gathered in a pass from senior QB Tanner Mazour and stretched to the full limit of his six-foot frame to inch the ball across the goal line and score the dramatic winning touchdown with just over six minutes to play.
On a play Gentrup suggested to the Boone Central/Newman Grove coaching staff.
“The receiver said ‘Coach, this is open’. I just had complete confidence in him,” Cardinal Head Coach Arnie Johnson told reporters following the game.
From there, the BC/NG defense took over, stymieing the Patriots on their final three possessions – the last two in the final two minutes of play.
The victory propels Boone Central/Newman Grove (11-1) into next Tuesday’s (Nov. 20) C1 championship game at Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium against Mid-State Conference rival Norfolk Catholic (11-1), a 34-14 winner over Pierce in Tuesday’s other semi-final.
Tuesday’s game in Albion was a classic November high school playoff battle.
Boone Central/Newman Grove took the game’s opening kickoff and impressively marched 65 yards to take a 7-0 lead on Tanner Mazour’s three-yard run. Adams Central promptly answered on its first possession, driving to the tieing touchdown, a seven-yard scramble by QB Creighton Reed.
Defense dominated the remainder of the first half and Adams Central opened the third quarter with a 65-yard 14-play go-ahead touchdown drive that took 7:23. The Patriots used a fake punt to gain one first down and converted a 3rd-and-14 with a pass completion to TE Jesse Ackerman. Reed passed five yards to Tyler Kirkgaard for the 14-7 lead.
Right back came Boone Central. Sparked by a 35-yard burst by senior Blake Slizoski on a read option play, the Cardinals drove 69 yards to tie. BC/NG converted a 4th-and-four from the six-yard line with a shovel pass – Mazour to Slizoski – and Mazour got the TD on a QB sneak.
The Cardinals forced Adams Central to punt on 4th-and-one at the Patriot 44-yard line, then used the first half of the fourth quarter to drive to the winning touchdown. Senior Hunter Henry went above two defenders to snare a key 31-yard pass completion on a 3rd-and-seven play before Gentrup provided the final offensive heroics.
More photos in adjoining post gallery