Oakland-Craig played Hartington Cedar Catholic back on Oct. 9 and came away with a 52-14 win. The Knights traveled to HCC last Friday for a rematch in the Class C2 state quarterfinal and it was a much different contest..
While the O-C offense rolled in the first outing, the Knight defense came up with two huge interceptions late in the fourth quarter to hold off Hartington CC 15-6 and advance to a semifinal playoff game on Friday.
It looked like a repeat in the early going. O-C got on the board right off the bat as HCC's first play on offense resulted on an interception that Caden Nelson returned 15 yards to the five-yard line. Nelson would score from five yards out on the next play to give the Knights a 6-0 lead with only 19 seconds having elapsed in the game.
The Knight defense would force a three-and-out before covering a punt at their 44. Nelson would cover most of the yardage, with one of the plays going for 35 yards. Tavis Uhing would get a pair of rushes on the drive before Jaron Meyer took it in from three yards away and a 12-0 Oakland-Craig lead with 4:39 remaining in the first quarter.
Hartington CC would not be denied on their next series, however, as Easton Becker took a handoff from quarterback Tate Thoene and ran it up the right side for 63 yards to the Oakland-Craig 5. Thoene would score three plays later from three yards out, but the conversion attempt failed and the Trojans trailed 12-6 with 2:49 in the opening quarter. The Trojans also had a drive stall at the Knights’ 24-yard line.
That score stood until the closing seconds of the first half when Jack Pille took a handoff from Knight quarterback Grady Gatewood and would dart down the right sideline 40 yards to the HCC 42. A personal foul penalty for a late hit on Hartington CC moved the ball to the Trojan 27. The Knights would get it to the four-yard line before settling for a 21-yard field goal by Pille with three seconds remaining in the first half.
Cedar Catholic looked to be in position to close the gap after recovering muffed punt to begin the second half, however CC was turned away by the Knight defense after a missed field goal. Two other scoring chances were thwarted later in the game via Knight interceptions. The Knights were able to run out the clock following Gunnar Ray’s final interception.
Oakland-Craig moves to 9-1 on the season and will travel to Ord for a 6 p.m. semifinal playoff game on Friday, Nov. 13. The Chanticleers are the overall number-two seed and bring a 9-0 record to the contest after beating Aquinas Catholic 24-12 last Friday. Ord never trailed thanks to a defense that forced six punts, made a stop on fourth down in the red zone and came up with a huge fumble recovery late in the contest that led to the final touchdown
Archbishop Bergan hosts Yutan in Friday’s other semifinal. The top seeded Knights scored twice in the first five minutes of the third quarter to build a lead that would stand through the final horn, taking down No. 8 Sutton 21-7 in the quarterfinals of the Class C-2 playoffs Friday night at Heedum Field in Fremont.
Yutan is coming off a 54-19 win over Wilber Clatonia. Bergan beat the Chieftains 41-13 to begin the season.
The state championship game is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.