DONIPHAN-North Platte St. Pat's gave No. 1-ranked Doniphan-Trumbull its best shot in the first half.But the Cardinals absorbed it and they ran off three straight touchdowns to start the second half on their way to a 42-20 victory over the Irish in the quarterfinals of the Class C2 state playoffs.
"I thought their speed just took over the game," said St. Pat's coach Kevin Dodson.
But in the first half, it looked like a combination of factors were going to come together in favor of the Irish (9-2) getting the upset.
On Doniphan-Trumbull's second drive of the game, Drew McClellen intercepted a pass by quarterback Riley Wiltfong near midfield.
Two plays later, Collin Pieper broke lose for a 50-yard touchdown run to give the Irish the first lead of the game.
When the Cardinals got the ball back, St. Pat's forced got another turnover when it recovered a fumble by Jordan Slough at the Doniphan-Trumbull 41.
The Irish got the ball at the Cardinal 26 after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on the home team after the fumble. But they couldn't take advantage as McClellen missed a 41-yard field goal.
But St. Pat's stopped Doniphan-Trumbull's high-powered offense once again. Then in the opening minute of the second quarter, the Irish blocked a punt by Slough. Alex Harms recovered the ball and ran it in for a touchdown and St. Pat's led 14-0.
But it only took the Cardinals 27 seconds to get on the scoreboard. Wiltfong threw a screen pass up the middle to Slough for a gain of 63 yards. Then Lorenzo Williams scored on a 27-yard touchdown run.
Doniphan-Trumbull (11-0) went for the two-point conversion. Slough was stopped and the score was 14-6.
"I was awful proud of our defense to hold a team like that in check for the first half," Dodson said.
The Irish still led by eight at halftime and the Cardinals received the ball to start the second half. They moved the ball at will to start the half until they got to the St. Pat's 10 when Slough was stopped short on third down.
But Mark Mayfield was called for a personal foul penalty and ejected from the game, which gave Doniphan-Trumbull first and goal. The Cardinals scored on a one-yard touchdown run by Slough. Following the touchdown, Wiltfong hit Noah Keller for the two-point conversion to tie the game at 14 all just three minutes into the second half.
Without Mayfield, a top receiving threat, and starting running back, Pieper, who had concussion-like symptoms, the St. Pat's offense sputtered.
The Cardinals got the ball back and they took the lead on a one-yard touchdown by Wiltfong with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter. It was 22-14 as Zach McNally ran in the two-point conversion.
On the ensuing possession, Irish quarterback Alex Harms was intercepted by Creighton Buhr, who ran it into the end zone. Doniphan-Trumbull made its third straight two-point conversion and they had a 30-14 lead going into the fourth quarter.
In the fourth, St. Pat's answered back when Harms connected with Andrew O'Neill for an 11-yard touchdown pass on fourth and six with 9:32 left in the game. But the two-point conversion that would have made it a one-possession game failed for the Irish and it was 30-20.
But it didn't matter as the Cardinals scored on its next two possessions to put the game away.
"We didn't have a whole lot of answers for their team speed," Dodson said.
Doniphan-Trumbull will play Battle Creek in the state semifinals on Nov. 19.
St. Pat's: 7 7 0 6 - 20
Doniphan-Trumbull: 0 6 24 12 - 42
First Quarter: SP-Collin Pieper 50 run (Drew McClellen kick), 3:50.
Second Quarter: SP-Alex Harms 30 blocked punt return (McClellen kick), 11:38. DT-Lorenzo Williams 27 run (conversion failed), 11:11.
Third Quarter: DT-Jordan Slough 1 run (Noah Keller pass from Riley Wiltfong), 8:44. DT-Wiltfong 1 run (Zach McNally run), 2:57. DT-Creighton Buhr 31 interception return (Buhr pass from Wiltfong), 1:50.
Fourth Quarter: SP-Andrew O'Neill 11 pass from Harms (conversion failed), 9:32. DT-Jordan Slough 3 run (conversion failed), 8:40. DT-Slough 2 run (conversion failed), 4:35.