Grand Island Central Catholic found that taking on the No. 2 team in the state was no easier the second time around as the Crusaders fell to Boone Central/Newman Grove 41-7 in their regular season finale.
A week after losing to then No. 2-rated Adams Central, Central Catholic (6-2) again hurt itself with turnovers and penalties. And on a night when the weather overwhelmed the passing game, the BC/NG defense was able to make the Crusader attack very one-dimensional.
When the Cardinals regained possession, quarterback Tanner Mazour did to Central Catholic what Crusaders quarterback Rylie Shoemaker has done all season long, running effectively inside and around the corner, while still forcing respect for the passing game.
The Cardinals (7-1) took advantage of field position and a thunderous northwest wind to jump to an early lead. After holding the Crusaders and forcing a punt into the wind, BC/NG took over at its 41 and moved downfield in just 10 plays, with Mazour scoring from one yard out.
Disaster struck GICC for the first, but not the last, time on the ensuing kickoff, as the ball came loose and the Cardinals’ Tyler Hedlund came up with the recovery at the Crusader 35. Three plays later Joseph Brugger took a reverse around the left side for 26 yards and a 14-0 lead.
When the quarter ended, GICC was able to punt with the wind, but Mazour took the ball at the one and returned it to the 36. The Cardinals ate up nearly seven minutes of clock as they opted to keep the ball on the ground for virtually the entire possession. This time Blake Slizoski bulled in from two yards out for the score.
Things only got worse for GICC as any hopes for narrowing the lead disappeared abruptly in the final two and a half minutes of the half. BC/NG forced another Central Catholic punt and went 56 yards in four plays.
Mazour broke loose on a 30-yard run, then two plays later hit Tyler Hedlund at the corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score with 59 seconds left. On the kickoff, the Crusaders fumbled a squib into the wind, and the Cardinals had one last shot at the GICC 38. A 24-yard run from Mazour and a nine-yard completion to Hedlund set up another short scoring run by Slizoski with just 4 seconds left.
A frustrated Charlie Shoemaker said that his team’s mistakes simply gave BC/NG too many opportunities.
“On our first series we have two holding calls on two first downs,” he said. “Then we give them the fumble recovery on the kickoff. It doesn’t matter how good you are —you’re not going to beat a good team when you do things like that.
“We just didn’t execute. We keep talking about cleaning things up, but then we come out and play like this.”
The Cardinals succeeded defensively in keeping Shoemaker and running back Dexter Puncochar in check as the two combined for just 71 yards rushing. BC/NG coach Arnie Johnson noted that his defense’s success came during a short week.
“We didn’t practice Sunday, even though we had a Thursday night game,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of time, so we went with the same sets we used againtst Columbus Lakeview. We absolutely needed to keep track of Shoemaker and keep someone on him, and I felt we did a pretty good job not letting them get outside.”
Johnson also said that his team benefited tremendously from its luck late in the second period.
“We had the long drive and we were happy to just get that score,” he noted. “For us to score another one fast and then get the kick recovery was something we couldn’t have expected. But the kids really took advantage of the situation.”
BC/NG added another touchdown in the third quarter, invoking the running clock, before the Crusaders got on the board late in the fourth quarter. A 23-yard run by Shoemaker brought a first down at the 11, and two plays later Puncochar went inside for 8 yards and the score.
BC/NG 41, GICC 7
Boone Central/Newman Grove (7-1)...................14 20 7 0 — 41
Central Catholic (6-2).......................0 0 0 7 — 7
BC/NG — Mazour 1 run (Hohnert PAT kick), 2:55.
BC/NG — Brugger 26 run (Hohnert PAT kick), 1:11.
BC/NG — Slizoski 2 run (PAT kick failed), 5:04.
BC/NG — Hedlund 10 pass from Mazour (Hohnert PAT kick), 0:59.
BC/NG — Slizoski 1 run (Hohnert PAT kick), 0:04.
BC/NG — Mazour 1 run (Hohnert PAT kick), 6:39.
GICC — Puncochar 8 run (Yax PAT kick), 4:23.
1st Downs 17 7
Yards Rushing 302 141
Yards Passing 80 19
Comp-Att-Int 7-13-0 2-6-1
Punts-Avg 2-26.5 4-26.2
Penalties 7-46 3-33
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 5-2
Rushing — BC/NG, T. Mazour 11-92, Brugger 11-82, Slizoski 17-72, W. Mazour 5-33, Sock 1-8, Olson 1-7, Finkral 3-4, Hedlund 1-3, O’Brien 1-1. GICC, Brokaw 3-66, Puncochar 12-36, Shoemaker 18-35, Stevenson 1-7, Wiens 2-(-2).
Passing — BC/NG, T. Mazour 7-11-0 80, W. Mazour 0-2-0-0. GICC, Shoemaker 2-6-1-19.
Receptions — BC/NG Hedlund 4-43, Henry 1-13, Gentrup 1-13, w. Mazour 1-11. GICC, Greenwalt 2-19.