DONIPHAN-With three touchdowns, Doniphan-Trumbull running back Jordan Slough carried the Cardinals to a decisive win over North Platte St. Pat's Tuesday.
Doniphan-Trumbull handed the Irish their first loss of the season, 35-6, in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
Doniphan-Trumbull (9-2) moves on to play Sutton in the state semifinals on Nov. 12. Sutton defeated Hershey 48-7 on Tuesday.
"(Slough) was one of those guys we knew we had to get stopped," said St. Pat's coach Kevin Dodson. "We had three, four guys at the line against him and he would break some tackles and get loose. He'd turn a negative play into a positive one. He's a special athlete."
Doniphan-Trumbull tried to exert their will on the Irish right away. The Cardinals opened with an onside kick and recovered at the St. Pat's 41.
Then on the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Riley Wiltfong looked deep and hit Nathaniel Armon for a touchdown.
But Armon was ruled to have gone out of bounds before making the reception, which negated the touchdown. The Irish defense held as Wiltfong threw three straight incomplete passes.
St. Pat's (10-1) appeared to go three downs and out on its opening possession. But a roughing the kicker penalty on fourth down gave the Irish new life.
St. Pat's then drove into Cardinal territory, where Sean Keenan found Mark Mayfield in the flat on the left side for a 35-yard touchdown.
Brandon Niesen missed the extra point and the Irish led 6-0 with 4:30 left in the first quarter.
But that was when Slough took over.
Doniphan-Trumbull scrapped its long bomb attack and settled into read option plays from the shotgun, between Slough and Wiltfong. Slough got the majority of the carries but Wiltfong became enough of a threat that the Irish couldn't automatically assume that Slough had the ball.
Slough carried the ball into the red zone on three long gains and on second and goal from the eight, Wiltfong carried the ball into the end zone. Armon made the extra point and with 1:06 left in the first quarter, the Cardinals had a lead they wouldn't surrender.
Both teams played to a stalemate until midway through the second quarter, when Slough received a punt from Joseph Clinch and returned it 84 yards for his first touchdown of the game.
After stopping St. Pat's again, Doniphan-Trumbull got the ball but was pinned deep in its own territory. Slough changed that with a gain of 55 yards to the Irish 30. That play led to another Cardinals score when Armon caught a five-yard touchdown pass from Wiltfong that deflected off of Creighton Buhr, the original intended receiver, with 1:21 left in the first half.
Down 21-6, St. Pat's tried to score to get within striking distance before the half. But on the last play, Keenan was intercepted by Slough near the end zone.
Doniphan-Trumbull received the kickoff to begin the second half and drove the field. But St. Pat's got a rare stop of the Cardinals when Wiltfong threw an incomplete pass on fourth down.
The Irish had similar success on their first drive of the second half. But on fourth and nine at the Doniphan-Trumbull 24, Keenan was stopped on a scramble to the left side.
That possession was the story of the night for St. Pat's. Doniphan-Trumbull was able to finish drives with Slough, but the Irish didn't have a similar effort to match that.
"We had a nice score with a pass in the flat," Dodson said. "We were moving the ball well but we couldn't do it consistently. They were a lot more physical up front than we anticipated."
The Cardinals scored again when Slough scored from 19 yards out with a little over a minute left in the fourth quarter.
From there, it was tough sledding for St. Pat's. Slough added another touchdown with eight and a half minutes left to add the exclamation point for Doniphan-Trumbull.
Considering the losses to graduation the Irish had going into this year, St. Pat's had a lot of question marks going into the 2012 season. With an undefeated regular season and another deep run into the playoffs, St. Pat's surpassed its expectations and Dodson said that shouldn't be forgotten.
"Had you told me before the season that we'd go 10-1, I would have taken it," said Dodson. "This one hurts. But you have to look at the season as a collective effort and the things we accomplished."
St. Pat's 6 0 0 0 - 6
Doniphan-Trumbull 7 14 7 7 - 35
SP-Mark Mayfield 34 pass from Sean Keenan (kick failed), 4:30
DT-Riley Wiltfong 8 run (Nathaniel Armon kick), 1:06
DT-Jordan Slough 84 punt return (Armon kick), 6:35
DT-Armon 5 pass from Wiltfong (Armon kick), 1:21
DT-Slough 19 run (Armon kick), 1:03
DT-Slough 30 run (Armon kick), 8:33