CHADRON—Gothenburg pitched its second straight shutout here Wednesday afternoon while taking a 12-0 victory over Chadron in the second round of the Class C-1 football playoffs.
The Swedes, now 6-4 for the season, also blanked Cozad 23-0 in their first-round game last Thursday. They will now host Boone Central-Newman Grove, a 48-20 winner over Chase County on Wednesday, in a quarterfinal game on Tuesday.
Besides keeping Chadron off the scoreboard, Gothenburg also ran its wishbone offense effectively, despite scoring just two touchdowns. The Swedes rolled up 410 total net yards and limited the Cardinals to just 139 yards.
A lost fumble at the goal line and two more strong stands by the Cardinals in the red zone prevented the Swedes from running away with the game.
“We should have put the game away much earlier,” said Gothenberg coach Craig Haake. “But it came out all right. I thought we played pretty well. We seem to be playing our best football when it really counts.”
Gothenburg nursed a 6-0 lead for most of three periods before connecting on a long touchdown pass with less than three minutes left to play.
Both teams picked up a first down on their opening possession, then ran into problems.
Chadron fumbled the ball away on a reverse shortly after quarterback T.D. Stein had connected with Spencer Eliason on a 29-yard pass play to cross midfield in the opening minute.
Gothenburg gained 16 yards on three running plays before being called for holding. The infraction and a sack of quarterback Blake Ristine by the Cardinals’ Calan Johnson and Colby Riesen forced a punt. The snap from center bounced back to punter Trent Long and the Cards’ Matt Lordino tackled him for a seven-yard loss.
The Cards could not cash in on the opportunity. Stein was sacked for a 10-yard loss by the Swedes’ Preston Franzen on the ensuing play, and the Cards had to punt three plays later.
Gothenburg then marched 84 yards in 12 plays to score on Ristine’s one-yard run as the second period was getting underway.
A 37-yard romp by Franzen and a 17-yard jaunt by Logan Sheets were the big plays in the drive.
Gothenburg put together a 57-yard drive later in the quarter, but it died inside the Chadron 10 when Tyler Regier stopped Ristine for a three-yard loss on fourth down and five.
The Swedes also opened the second half by driving 75 yards before fumbling away the ball at the Cardinals’ two shortly after Franzen had carried 29 yards through the right side of his line.
The Cardinals’ Colin Deines claimed the loose ball and returned it 31 yards before he was caught.
Chadron went nowhere on its possession, but Gothenburg fumbled the ensuing punt and the Cards’ Jackson Dickerson recovered it at the Swedes’ 26.
The turnover set up what proved to be the hosts’ only scoring threat. But after reaching the 13, Chadron had to settle for Lordino’s field goal attempt, which was blocked by the pesky Ristine.
Just before the third period ended, Rinstine also picked off a Chadron pass. Franzen gained 37 yards on the first play after the takeover and Sheets went 21 yards on the next play.
However, that march died at the Chadron 16, when Gothenburg was called for holding and Riesen and Keenan Johnson combined to sack Rinstine for a nine-yard loss.
That wasn’t the last the Cardinals heard from Rinstine, a 6-foot-1, 175-pound junior. He soon intercepted another Chadron pass and then found 6-6 Logan Koehler open behind the Cardinals’ defense. Rinstine’s pass carried about 30 yards down field, and Koehler took it the rest of the way for a 63-yard touchdown play that sealed the outcome.
Rinstine threw just six passes, but completed five of them for 91 yards.
Running behind a huge offensive line that included Jake Matthies, a 6-3, 255-pound senior, and Tanner Borchardt, a 6-7, 245-pound sophomore, Sheets and Franzen combined to rush 35 times for 244 yards. Sheets had 17 carries for 137 yards and Franzen had 18 totes for 104.
Chadron, which completed 17 of 27 passes for 282 yards and four touchdowns during its 35-13 victory over Valentine in the first round of the playoffs last Thursday, completed only six of 26 for 71 yards against Gothenburg. The Cards also were limited to just 68 yards on 15 rushing plays Wednesday.
Chadron coach Mike Lecher said that while his team wasn’t able to dent the scoreboard against the Swedes, it had improved immensely since losing to Alliance and Gering in its first two games.
“You gave a good effort all season and made huge strides from the start of the season,” Lecher told his players.
Gothenburg..............................0 6 0 6 ——12
Chadron.............................0 0 0 0 ——-0
Goth—Blake Rinstine 1 run (run failed)
Goth—Logan Koehler 63 pass from Rinstine (run failed)