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LINCOLN – For the first time in school history, the Centennial Bronco football team can call themselves state champions. Going for a two point conversion to win the game in overtime, Centennial (13-0) escaped Norfolk Catholic (11-2), 29-27.
The 16 seniors for Centennial overcame numerous hurdles throughout the game, including falling behind 14-6 at the half. However, the veteran leadership never gave up and guided the Broncos to their first state title.
After a scoreless first quarter, Centennial jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the second quarter. Wyatt Ehlers found Jackson Hirschfeld for a 14 yard touchdown pass. However, the extra point was missed wide right. Norfolk Catholic would respond on the ensuing drive, as record breaking running back, Dylan Kautz ran in for a 25 yard touchdown, his 44th of the season, a state record. With the extra point, it was 7-6. Right before half, the Knights would find the endzone once more on a six yard touchdown rush from fullback Evan Smith. Norfolk Catholic led 14-6 at the break.
The third quarter would start with a pick six by Centennial’s Max Tomes who picked off Cayden Cunningham and ran for 50 yards to close the gap within two. Norfolk Catholic would answer on a four yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive from Nathan Brungardt to Smtih to extend the Knights lead.
However the party would continue for the Broncos into the fourth quarter as Ehlers found Tomes in the back of the endzone for a 10 yard strike. A successful two point conversion tied the gamed at 21-21. Both teams would have opportunities to jump ahead for good, but both defenses stepped up and made big play after big play. Overtime was inevitable.
Norfolk Catholic got the ball first in overtime and relied on their bread and butter and ran the ball. It only took two plays before Kautz found the endzone untouched. The Knights led 28-21. Forced to score a touchdown to force another overtime, Centennial’s Ehler’s would be sacked and set up a third and 17. However he would redeem himself and scampered to the one yard line. With the game on the line and on fourth down, Ehlers found Hirschfeld for a one yard touchdown pass. Centennial would opt to go for the win and the two point conversion. Ehlers one more time would find Hirschfeld in the back corner for the game winner.
Centennial now has one state title and two runner-up’s in the trophy case. Norfolk Catholic placed second for the seventh time in school history.