Cardinals suffer frustrating grid loss in opener

If you wanted to sum up Boone Central’s 2020 football season opener Friday night vs. Mid-State Conference rival Norfolk Catholic in one word, it might be ‘frustration.’
Three long touchdowns strikes by the visiting Knights over a span of two-and-a-half minutes of the second quarter. Three huge missed opportunities by Boone Central in the second half. Three yards for the potential tie or win in the final seconds unrealized.
It all added up to a 21-14 victory for Class C2 #6 Norfolk Catholic at the Boone Central Athletic Field in Albion.
“There were plenty of opportunities to pull out the win, but we need to ‘learn how to win’ those close games,” said Boone Central Coach Mark Hudson. “This experience should pay off as the season moves forward.”
Games in this heated rivalry are always entertaining and usually exciting. Spine-tingling at times.
Friday’s contest was certainly one of momentum swings, with fans wondering to the end which way the tide would finally turn.
It was the Cardinals who made the initial surge, taking advantage of an early Norfolk Catholic miscue to spark a 14-0 first-quarter lead.
Boone Central forced a quick three-and-out by Catholic on the game’s initial possession and Sam Grape dropped Knights punter Max Wattier at the Catholic 28 yard line following a bad snap. The Cardinals methodically covered the territory with seven runs and a nine-yard pass completion from Braden Benes to Calvin Webster. Benes scored the season’s first touchdown on a one-yard run and Ryan Kramer booted the PAT for a 7-0 lead with 6:48 remaining in the first period.
The teams traded a series a three punts before Boone Central doubled its lead. After Kaison Voelker’s seven-yard return of a short boot to the Catholic 34 yard line, Benes found Kramer streaking to the end zone with 1:37 left in the quarter. Kramer again added the PAT.
Everything seemed to be rolling in Boone Central’s favor when the Cardinals forced another Catholic punt to begin the second period. In fact, the Knights would have just nine offensive snaps and 2:32 minutes of possession in the quarter – usually a sign of success for an opposing defense.
In this case, however, three of those subsequent plays produced over 200 yards and three stunning touchdowns.
First came a 43-yard touchdown bolt by senior halfback Jackson Clausen that trimmed the Boone Central lead to 14-7 with 10:01 remaining in the first half. Just under five minutes later Catholic produced one-play points again when Karter Kerkman broke loose for an 81-yard TD sprint. The PAT knotted the score with 5:35 to play in the half.
The Knights completed the dizzying flurry by intercepting a Benes pass and taking their first lead on a 48-yard run by Kerkman.
Boone Central had one threat in the quarter, prior to Catholic’s second touchdown run. The Cardinals, sparked by Benes pass completions of 13 and 26 yards to Kramer, drove from their own 20 to the Knights 20 before stalling when Benes was dropped on third and fourth down plays.
“The kids came out and executed the game plan very well in the first quarter. We then made a lot of first game mistakes,” Hudson noted. “Disappointing, but lots of room for improvement.”
Boone Central regrouped at halftime and, in many ways, dominated play in the second half. The Cardinals could never cash that success into points, however. Boone Central drives stalled at the Norfolk Catholic 12 and five yard lines, and the Cardinals’ last gasp expired when two plays failed in the final 19.7 seconds of play after BC had reached the Knights three-yard line.


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