LINCOLN — Jordan Bellar was misty-eyed.
“It’s kind of naive, but you never think it’s going to end,” the Norfolk Catholic senior quarterback said. “It’s over and it’s hard, but it’s a great feeling to go out on top.”
With its 24-13 title game win against conference rival Boone Central/Newman Grove, Norfolk Catholic’s senior class finished an unprecedented legacy in Class C-1. It won three consecutive state titles while being in the state finals every year.
“We talked to our kids a lot about that, no C-1 team having done that,” said Bellar’s father, Knights coach Jeff Bellar. “We think we’ve had a very good program and we’ve won some championships, but we wanted to make a statement that somebody hadn’t done.”
The stretch run of a 12-1 season included other emotions. Norfolk Catholic played its semifinal and final games without starting linebacker Isaac Pfeifer, who severely injured his spine in the quarterfinals.
Pfeifer is now in Lincoln for rehabilitation and was able to attend Tuesday’s game at Memorial Stadium. He was on the field for a while before sitting with his family and nurses on the stadium’s club level.
Eli Pfeifer, a third-grader, and Noah Pfeifer, a freshman lineman, accepted their brother’s championship medal. Eli was wearing it during the postgame celebration.
“We had an opportunity to visit Isaac last night, and I think it meant a lot to the kids,” Jeff Bellar said. “We wanted to come out and play well. We didn’t really talk about having to win for Isaac because I didn’t want to go down that road.
“It was more like, ‘Let’s hang in there together, make this happen and maybe lift his spirits a little bit as he’s going through rehab.’ ”
Bellar threw two touchdown passes in the second half and snagged two of the Knights’ three interceptions during Boone Central/Newman Grove’s final four possessions.
The No. 2 Cardinals (11-2) took their only lead at 13-10 on a 32-yard field goal by Fabian Hohnert with 4:44 left in the third quarter.
Less than 90 seconds later, Norfolk Catholic regained the lead for good. After picking up a first down, Jackson Love’s 60-yard run put the ball on the Cardinals 5. Kyle Schaefer scored on the next play as the Knights led 17-13.
Dylan Field got the first of the interceptions thrown by Tanner Mazour, who was 18 of 32 for 257 yards and a touchdown. The pickoff, with Schaefer pressuring the quarterback, came at the Knights’ 14 after Mazour had thrown to Hunter Henry for 51 yards.
On their next possession, the Cardinals tried a fake punt near midfield that ended with an incompletion with 8:23 left in the fourth quarter.
“We weren’t really planning on it, but we said if you thought it was wide open, if you thought they were really going to attack us, then go ahead and call it,” BC/NG coach Arnie Johnson said. “Norfolk Catholic did a good job of making it a tougher play and it had to be more of a perfect pass.”
Bellar soon threw to Allen Lewis for a 38-yard TD, then wrapped up the win with a interception at his 10, a 50-yard punt to pin the Cardinals at their 11 and another pickoff.
“Our passing game did well when they didn’t know we were passing,” Johnson said. “Just like anything, when they knew we had to pass it became more difficult.”
Norfolk Catholic (12-1) ................. 3 0 14 7—24
Boone Central/NG (11-2) ................. 0 3 10 0—13
NC: FG Ethan Hale 31
BC: FG Fabian Hohnert 27
NC: Riley Knake 5 pass from Jordan Bellar (Hale kick)
BC: Tanner Mazour 2 run (Hohnert kick)
BC: FG Hohnert 32
NC: Kyle Schaefer 5 run (Hale kick)
NC: Allen Lewis 38 pass from Bellar (Hale kick)
RUSHING: NC, Jackson Love 21-144, Bellar 8-61, Nick Arlt 3-19, Knake 3-7, Kyle Schaefer 1-5, team 1-minus 1. BC, Blake Slizoski 10-72, Mazour 14-45, Wyatt Mazour 4-13, Kody Sock 1-minus 1, Derek Gentrup 1-minus 3.
PASSING: NC, Bellar 10-17-1 114. BC, Mazour 18-32-3 257, Hunter Henry 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING: NC, Knake 5-44, Connor Ketter 2-19, Allen Lewis 1-38, Hale 1-10, Schaefer 1-3. BC, Gentrup 8-118, Henry 4-101, Tyler Hedlund 3-20, Travis Kennedy 1-17, Pierce Koch 1-6, Slizowski 1-minus 5.
DEFENSE (unassisted-assisted-total): NC, Schaefer 6-4-10, Brandon Becker 4-5-9, Dylan Field 5-1-6, Brennan Roche 4-2-6, Michael Obermiller 4-0-4, Ketter 2-2-4, Zach Pospisil 1-3-4, Bellar 3-0-3, Knake 3-0-3, Love 2-0-2, Joseph Lopez 1-0, Nic Beed 1-0-1, Christian Sextro 0-1-1. BC, Justin Bounds 6-2-8, Sock 6-2-8, Slizoski 4-2-6, Gentrup 4-1-5, Hedlund 2-2-4, Hunter 2-1-3, T. Mazour 2-1-3, Beau Bremer 1-2-3, Michael Lipker 2-0-2, Pierce Koch 1-1-2, Jesse Zweiner 1-1-2, Brent Janzen 1-0-1, Alex Wiese 1-0-1, Matthew Finkral 1-0-1, Justin Rasmussen 1-0-1, W. Mazour 0-1-1, Jacob Atwood 0-1-1, Nick Paulson 0-1-1.
FUMBLE RECOVERIES: NC, Roche. BC, none.
INTERCEPTIONS: NC, Bellar 2-24 yards, Field. 1-0. BC, Henry 1-21
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