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St. Pat's beats Hershey to finish regular season undefeatedTell North Platte what you think

St. Patís finished the regular season undefeated on Thursday with a 32-0 win over Hershey at Knights of Columbus Field.

Brent Aufdenkamp, St. Patís defensive coordinator, said the Irish won all three facets of the game and that offset the mistakes they made against Hershey.

ďWe preach all three phases of the game,Ē he said. ďWe donít have a great offense, defense or special teams but when all three play well, you win a lot of games.Ē

The Irish started their first drive in great field position, at the Hershey 38 yard line after Landan Maassenís punt. With Brandon Niesen getting the bulk of the carries, St. Patís moved the ball to the three before facing a fourth down situation.

The Irish had converted on fourth and one from the 17 to get first and goal but they decided to settle for a chip-shot field goal, which Niesen missed.

It didnít hurt St. Patís on Thursday, but in the playoffs, the Irish canít afford to come up short on such opportunities, Aufdenkamp said.

ďIn playoff time, youíve got to punch those in or at least get three points,Ē said Aufdenkamp.

But St. Patís changed things up to start its second drive. Quarterback Sean Keenan connected with Mark Mayfield on an option pass for a gain of about 30 to the Hershey 27.

On the following play, the Irish then went back to their bread and butter on the ground when Matthew Buhrman carried the ball for nine yards on the last play of the first quarter.

To begin the second quarter, Keenan gave St. Patís another first and goal with a run to the 10. Buhrman got half the yardage on first down and Niesen got the rest on second with a pitch to the right side of the field where he stretched the ball over the goal line as he was going down for the turf.

Niesenís kicking woes continued though as the senior missed the PAT.

The Irish had a chance for the knockout blow when Josh Margritz mishandled the kickoff and Alex Harms recovered at the 14. But St. Patís turned the ball back right over to the Panthers (4-4) by fumbling on the next play.

It was one of two untimely turnovers for the Irish in the second quarter. The second came after Henry Aufdenkamp blocked a Maassen punt with about four minutes to go in the first half. But on the next play, Hershey recovered another fumble at its own 38.

But with a little under two minutes left until halftime, the Irish got the big play they needed. Niesen fielded the punt and then reversed the ball to Buhrman who took it all the way down the right sideline for a touchdown for a 12-0 lead. A two-point conversion attempt failed when Buhrman just missed Andrew OíNeill in the end zone on a desperation pass after a botched snap.

Facing a struggling Hershey offense, Aufdenkamp said that he felt pretty good about his defenseís ability to hold a two-possession lead going into the second half.

ďThat was huge because if youíre only up one-score, you are only one play away from being tied or giving up the lead,Ē he said.

St. Patís got the ball to start the second half and took advantage with a 60-yard touchdown run by Keenan two minutes in for an 18-0 lead.

From there, the Irish were on a roll. With a little under four minutes left in the third quarter, Keenan connected again with Mayfield for a 41-yard score.

Keenan scored one more touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard run to finish the game that resulted in St. Patís clinching the district championship and its seventh undefeated regular season in school history.

Aufdenkamp said that being able to get long-yardage plays against a stingy Panther defense was the best thing he saw from Thursdayís win.

ďOur kids settled in and we had some big plays on offense,Ē said Aufdenkamp. ďSean Keenan made some big plays tonight and heís been a big leader for our football team.Ē

Hershey coach Ryan Smith said that St. Patís was just tough to stop.

ďSt. Patís made some great, athletic plays in the third quarter,Ē said Smith. ďI give a lot of credit to Coach (Kevin) Dodson and his staff. Their guys play physical football. I thought we made some good plays and both sides made plays. But they just made more of them. I thought we played tough in the first half and thereís a lot of things we need to work on and get corrected, which we will, before our playoff game.Ē

Hershey 0 0 0 0 - 0

St. Patís 0 12 13 7 - 32

Second Quarter

SP-Brandon Niesen 5 run (kick failed), 11:04

SP-Matthew Buhrman 78 punt return (conversion failed), 1:45

Third Quarter

SP-Sean Keenan 60 run (conversion failed), 9:59

SP-Mark Mayfield 41 pass from Keenan (Niesen kick), 3:50

Fourth Quarter

SP-Keenan 25 run (Niesen kick), 8:26

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 10/18/2012
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