FALLS CITY, Neb. — Humphrey St. Francis' defense was more than Falls City Sacred Heart could handle Monday in a matchup of the top two teams in the Eight Man-2 rankings.
The No. 2 Flyers gave up 37 yards and no points in the first half of a 38-13 semifinal win at Jug Brown Stadium.
“They wore us down with their size,” Sacred Heart coach Doug Goltz said. “We hadn't seen a defense like that. They have good speed to go with that size.”
St. Francis (12-0) will be in the Eight Man-2 championship game for the first time since winning the 2009 title. It has nine senior starters, most of whom were on the team that season.
No. 1 Sacred Heart (11-1) was trying for its first spot in a state final since winning the last of six consecutive titles in 1994.
St. Francis quarterback Nathan Classen scored his team's three first-half touchdowns, all on 1-yard runs, in the second quarter as the Flyers led 22-0 at halftime.
While Classen had to fight for that last yard each time, the heavier load was carried twice by the game's leading rusher, JJ Oltmer, with set-up runs of 18 yards to the 1 and 33 yards to the 9, respectively.
Classen's 34-yard pass play to Jake Werner, then runs of 15 yards by Chad Haiar and 13 by Oltmer led to the third score.
“We kept working hard and sooner or later we got openings,” Classen said. “JJ is a good running back. He hits the holes.”
Those holes were from the blocks of the Flyers' offensive line — Corbin Eisenmenger at center, Tristen Foltz and Michael McPhillips at guard and John Wieser and Jake Werner at end.
“The offensive line, they're our meal ticket,” St. Francis coach Eric Kessler said. “Sacred matched us early for physicality, but we started to make the 4-, 5-, 6-yard runs into 10-, 12- 15-yard runs.”
Sacred Heart had the only two turnovers of the game — a late first-half interception by Haiar and a fumble.
“We felt coming in we had to play pretty flawless,” Goltz said, “You get so fewer possessions as you go deeper into the playoffs, and you can't waste possessions.”
Oltmer, a 185-pounder, ran for 144 of the Flyers' 292 yards and scored on a 23-yard run in the third quarter. Haiar added 88 yards, matching Oltmer's 19 carries, and scored in the final quarter.
St. Francis held the Irish offense, which had quarterback Lane Scheitel and running back Lane Barnhill as 1,000-yard rushers, to 100 yards rushing and 131 passing.
“Those two are scary, and scary fast,” Kessler said.
The Irish's touchdowns were on a 5-yard run by Scheitel in the third quarter and his 49-yard pass play to Clay Finck in the final quarter.
Humphrey St. Francis (12-0) ................. 0 22 8 8—38
At Falls City Sacred Heart (11-1) ................. 0 0 6 7—13
HSF: Nathan Classen 1 run (run failed)
HSF: Classen 1 run (Chad Haiar run)
HSF: Classen 1 run (Jake Werner run)
HSF: JJ Oltmer 23 run (Oltmer run)
FCSH: Lane Scheitel 5 run (run failed)
HSF: Haiar 2 run (OItmer run)
FCSH: Clay Finck 49 pass from Scheitel (Yianni Haralabidis kick)
RUSHING: HSF, Haiar 19-88, Oltmer 19-144, Classen 9-12, Sam Zach 1-6, Jake Werner 2-52, Brandon Weidner 1-0, Chayse Wemhoff 1-1, team 1-minus 1. FCSH, Scheitel 15-33, Finck 1-3, Barnhill 12-60, King 1-1, Brandon Schawang 1-3.
PASSING: HSF, Classen 1-4-0 34. FCSH, Scheitel 9-20-1 131.
RECEIVING: HSF, Werner 1-34. FCSH, Finck 3-76, Brody Chandler 1-4, Colin Niemeyer 3-26, Barnhill 2-25.
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