Sports

Most Memorable Cardinal Football Games – Cards top #1 Adams Central in semi thriller

When you think of Most Memorable Cardinal Football Games, this one had it all.
High stakes? Check.
Drama? Check.
Cardinal victory? Check.
Excitement? Double check.
I refer to the 2012 Nebraska State Playoff semifinal win that propelled Boone Central to the third state championship game in school history.
Following is the beginning of my postgame coverage in early November, 2012 …
Cardinals knock out Adams Central, advance to C1 championship game –
Crisp postseason 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, November 13, in Albion.
And, Boone Central/Newman Grove fans couldn’t ask for any more than what their Cardinals provided – a clutch 21-14 semifinal 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 deciding touchdown with just over six minutes to play.
On a play Gentrup actually suggested to the Boone Central/Newman Grove coaching staff.
“The receiver said, ‘Coach, this is open.’ I just had complete confidence in him,” Cardinal Coach Arnie Johnson told reporters following the game. “I love when players understand what we are doing to the point that they can recognize and call some of the plays.”
From there, the BCNG defense took over, stymieing the Patriots on their final three chances – the last two in the final two minutes of play.
The victory propelled Boone Central/Newman Grove into the third state championship game in Cardinal program history and left Johnson appreciative of the moment and a momentous contest.
“Well, that is what a semifinal is supposed to be like. Two well-deserving teams battling it out,” Johnson commented. “I have a lot of respect for (Adams Central Coach) Bill Carlin and his team. Bill is a good friend and one of the best coaches in the state. He wants kids to gain life lessons from playing the game and it showed – they were a class act.”
Both sides could certainly claim that status. In a game where every possession seemed to produce something of consequence, BCNG had a fast start. The Cardinals took the opening kickoff and raced 63 yards to paydirt, QB Tanner Mazour scoring on a three-yard run after connecting on pass plays of 13 yards to Wyatt Mazour and 23 yards to Gentrup.
Adams Central answered immediately. Riding the legs of 1,600-yard rushing star Jake Fowler, the Patriots burst 67 yards in seven plays. Fowler churned out 56 on six carries and QB Creighton Reed scored from the seven with 3:47 remaining in the first quarter. Each team had an opportunity snuffed in period two, Adams Central fumbling at the Cardinal 26-yard line and BCNG stuffed on fourth-and-one at midfield.
After receiving the second half kickoff, Adams Central marched 65 yards on a scoring drive that included a crucial nine-yard gain on a fourth-down fake punt. Just as the Patriots had done in the first quarter, Boone Central/Newman Grove responded with its own 69-yard touchdown drive. Blake Slizoski began the foray with a 35-yard bolt and later, on a fourth down at the Adams Central six, took an inside shovel pass from Mazour to the one. Tanner Mazour scored from there and Fabian Hohnerts’ PAT knotted the score again.
Following an Adams Central punt in the fourth quarter, your intrepid Albion News sports writer reported, “Tanner Mazour fired a high strike to split end Hunter Henry, who skied above two Patriot defenders to cradle the ball and come down with a Cardinal first down at the Adams Central 13.”
Two plays later, Mazour connected with Gentrup for the game-winner.
The rest, after several defensive stands, is history.
Boone Central/Newman Grove first forced a Patriot punt, then made a stop on a fourth-and-one attempt in the final minutes.
Adams Central had one last possession and chance with :37 to play. “Reed was able to complete passes of 17 yards to Fowler and 11 to Niederklein, but Tanner Mazour and Gentrup combined to tackle Kierkegaard after a short four-yard reception and the clock ticked to 00:00, setting off a wild celebration on the Boone Central turf.”
“It was a fun atmosphere and exciting for our communities,” Johnson acknowledged.
Understated, but accurate.
Albion had melded with Petersburg and Newman Grove through the years, but one thing remained the same – Cardinal success and Cardinal pride!
Boone Central/Newman Grove was unable to capture its second state championship the following week, as bitter Mid-State Conference rival Norfolk Catholic claimed its third consecutive C1 title with a 24-13 victory in Lincoln.
The Cardinals finished a banner campaign 11-2, losing only to the Knights (35-31 in a regular-season thriller). BCNG defeated four C1 Top 10 teams during an exciting campaign and stamped themselves as one of Nebraska’s best with the win over #1 ranked Adams Central.
If that’s not memorable, what is?