FREMONT, Neb. — On a night when two defenses showed how much they’ve improved this season, big plays were at a premium.
Only two plays went for more than 36 yards Friday at Heedum Field. And both were by Fremont Bergan, which earned its first berth in a state final in a decade by beating Yutan 21-7 in a Class C-2 semifinal.
Because the Knights (12-0) are the top-seeded team, they will host Ord next Friday for the title. Ord defeated defending C-2 champion Oakland-Craig 38-28 in Friday’s other semifinal.
While semifinals were being played Friday night, the Nebraska School Activities Association announced its decision to move the finals from Memorial Stadium in Lincoln to home-field sites on Nov. 20 because of COVID-19 concerns.
Wherever and whoever the Knights were to play, Bergan coach Seth Mruz told his charges in the postgame huddle that he was excited the school is in the title game for the first time since finishing as runner-up in 2010.
“I’m just proud of these kids for what they’ve accomplished this season,” Mruz said. “Going from unranked in the preseason to the state championship game is a pretty big accomplishment.”
Bergan and Yutan met in the season opener, which the Knights won 41-13.
On Friday, the Knights scored the only first-half points on their first drive of the game. They went 53 yards in 10 plays, showing balance with five rushing and five passing plays. Koa McIntyre found Jarett Boggs open on the right side for a 5-yard touchdown. Freshman Alex Langenfeld added the extra point to put Bergan ahead 7-0.
The contest then turned into a defensive battle, save for two big plays in the second half.
Bergan put together a clock-chewing drive early in the second quarter but failed to score after McIntyre was intercepted by defensive back Sean Henkel at the Yutan 36.
The Chieftains then went on their best drive of the game but couldn’t come away with points when back-to-back passes by Brady Timm fell incomplete with 27 seconds left before halftime.
On the fourth play of the third quarter, Bergan’s McIntyre found his brother Kade racing down the sideline and connected in stride for a 46-yard gain to the Yutan 3. Three players later, Koa McIntyre scored on a 1-yard sneak to put Bergan ahead 14-0.
Yutan’s offense then put together its lone scoring drive, going 61 yards in seven plays. Caden Egr’s 6-yard run closed the Chieftains’ deficit to 14-7.
Yutan, which had won nine straight entering Friday, was poised to tie the game late in the third quarter before the Chieftains were called for an illegal substitution penalty on fourth-and-goal from the 1. Timm was stopped 5 yards short of the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The momentum stayed with Bergan after that. Five plays after the defensive stand, Koa McIntyre went 75 yards through the middle of the Yutan defense for what proved to be the final points of the game.
“Up front that was kids getting a hat on a hat,” Mruz said. “There was a little crease he could take advantage of, and that’s all he needed.”
Yutan (9-2)...........................0 0 7 0— 7
At Fremont Bergan (12-0)....7 0 7 7—21
FB: Jarett Boggs 5 pass from Koa McIntyre (Alex Langenfeld kick)
FB: McIntyre 1 run (Langenfeld kick)
Y: Caden Egr 6 run (Paul Kirchmann kick)
FB: McIntyre 75 run (Langenfeld kick)
Ord 38, Oakland-Craig 28
The Chanticleers scored the final 10 points to knock off the defending state champs. Ord (11-0) never trailed, but the game was tied three times, including 28-28 after a Grady Gatewood TD with 9:48 left. Kelen Meyer then kicked a 32-yard field goal with 7:17 left before Zach Smith added a 7-yard run with 5:44 left. Oakland-Craigh finished 10-2.