COZAD, Neb. — All the big plays, save one, belonged to Cozad in Tuesday's 35-7 victory over Class C-1 No. 1 Boone Central/Newman Grove.
The No. 2 Haymakers, playing their biggest game at home since winning the 1991 Class B title, intercepted three passes and had three scoring plays of 35 yards or longer to win the battle between the last two unbeatens in Class C-1.
Haymaker Stadium filled up long before kickoff, and several hundred in the estimated crowd of 2,000 stood along the stadium fence.
First-year Haymaker coach Brian Cargill said Cozad (12-0) remained patient even though the game was scoreless until late in the first half.
“When we have slow starts, we say not to get frustrated,” Cargill said. “When the big plays start, they'll come in bunches.”
In the final six minutes of the first half, Cozad sacked Boone Central's dual-threat quarterback, Wyatt Mazour, during a three-and-out; got a 47-yard touchdown run from sprinter Jake Paulsen; Conor Young snagged the first of his two picks; and Young caught a 33-yard pass from Nathan Bubak to set up Paulsen for a 2-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 halftime lead.
“We chip away, chip away and then Jake always can break one,” Young said.
The Cardinals (11-1), who fell short of a return trip to the state finals, had only 43 yards in the first half and finished with 148.
“That's not like us,” Cardinals coach Arnie Johnson said.
Mazour, who had some monster games this season, was hurt during the half. He said his ankle got stepped on during a pass play.
He was 4 of 13 passing for 18 yards and the three picks. Besides the two by Young, Bubak got one on a deflection by Young.
“We wanted to contain Mazour,” Young said. “We were hearing, 'Boone does this, Boone does that,' and we put in a lot of work to prepare for them.”
Boone Central started the second half by getting to the red zone, only for Young to get his second interception at the Haymaker 3.
It took only six plays for the Haymakers to cover the 97 yards.
Paulsen, who led all rushers with 246 yards and three touchdowns, had runs of 36 and 12 yards before Colin Wetovick showed his speed with a 37-yard touchdown run around right end for a 21-0 lead with 6:33 left in the third quarter.
The Cardinals' only takeaway was on Nathan Hemmer's recovery of a Paulsen fumble at the Cozad 19. Joseph Brugger, who led his team with 87 rushing yards, scored from the 2 with 2:49 left in the third quarter.
Three plays into Cozad's next series, Bubak hit Young in stride for a 48-yard touchdown pass to regain a three-score lead late in the quarter.
Bubak, who threw for only 6 yards in Cozad's quarterfinal last week, was 4 of 6 for 108 yards. Young had three catches for 103 yards.
“I thought Nathan did a good job of managing things,” Cargill said.
Boone Central/Newman Grove (11-1)............................0 0 7 0— 7
At Cozad (12-0)........................................................0 14 14 7—35
C: Jake Paulsen 47 run (Tysen Werner kick)
C: Paulsen 2 run (Werner kick)
C: Colin Wetovick 37 run (Werner kick)
BCNG: Joseph Brugger 2 run (Matt Brugger kick)
C: Conor Young 48 pass from Nathan Bubak (Werner kick)
C: Paulsen 8 run (Werner kick)
Att: 2,000 (est.)
RUSHING: BCNG, J. Brugger 13-87, M. Brugger 9-37, Wyatt Mazour 14-10, Billy O'Brien 1-3, Ty Merten 1-1, Kyle Kramer 1-3, Blaine Kennedy 1-minus 11. C, Paulsen 33-246, Wetovick 13-118, Bubak 1-3, Clay Trejo 1-minus 1, team 1-minus 2.
PASSING: BCNG, Mazour 4-13-3 18. C, Bubak 4-6-0 108.
RECEIVING: BCNG, Keaton Henry 1-6, Derek Gentrup 1-0, M. Brugger 1-5, Tyler Hedlund 1-7. C, Young 3-103, Alex Boryca 1-5.