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BDS In D-2 Final

By GREG SCELLIN
Signal Editor

For the third time in the last four years, Bruning-Davenport/Shickley will be competing in a State Final football game at Memorial Stadium.  This time, the 12-0 Eagles squared off with Blue Hill (12-0) in the Class D-2 State Final on Tom Osborne Field in Lincoln. In 2014, BDS was the D-1 State Runner-ups and in 2015, the Eagles finished undefeated and were the D-1 State Champions.
BDS also downed Falls City Sacred Heart for the third time in four tries on Monday, November 13, and avenged its State Semi-final loss to the Irish from a year ago—the defeat that kept this from being the fourth consecutive trip to Lincoln for the local 8-man powerhouse.  The Eagles have defeated FCSH in three of its four match-ups by a combined score of 125 to 54, and have never allowed the Irish more than two scores in any game.  
BDS answered last year's last-minute loss to the Irish in the 2016 State semi-final game with a 50-16 thumping last Monday in Shickley.  So lopsided was the loss, that the second half was played almost entirely with a running clock—the Eagles were ahead 44-8 minutes into the third period.
The regular-season game score for the two squad's was a 23-14 victory for BDS at Jug Brown Stadium.
"We figured we would be able to score a little more tonight," Eagle co-head coach Mark Rotter said.  "We had hid some things that we had never done in a game this year for tonight.  And, almost all of it worked tonight. We always think outside the box with some of this stuff.  I also think I did a much better job of coaching tonight."
Eagle quarterback John Christensen rushed for 153 yards and two scores and threw for 135 yards and three scores (three yards to Holden Stengel; five yards to Caden Norder; and 16 yards to Karson Dickson) in the lopsided victory.
"John (Christensen) did his usual great job for us," Rotter said.  "He's a heavy load on defense, too."
As much as the Eagle offense shined, the BDS defense was just as solid holding the FCSH offense to just 237 total yards and two scores—the final one coming with just seconds left in the blow-out.
"We have learned a lot about them on defense, too," Eagle co-head coach Chris Ardissono said.  "We wanted to not give up the big play, which we did.  We also wanted to stop their screen passes.  We also knew that we had to get to him (Irish quarterback Drew Bippes) and make him uncomfortable."
Mission accomplished as Bippes went just 16-for-43 passing for 107 yards.  The  junior quarterback rushed for 66 yards.
After a long pass to Dickson, Stengel hauled in the first score on November 13.  Norder ran in the PAT.  Thomas Mick dashed in from 14 yards for the second BDS score.  Christensen cut upfield on a quarterback keeper to roll home from 33 yards out to make the score 20-8 after one period.
The craziest play of the contest took place early in the second period when Norder was smacked hard by a pair of Irish defenders and fumbled.  An alert Mick snatched up the loose ball and raced 40-plus yards deep into FCSH territory.  A hard Christensen run and Garrett Schardt PAT scamper had the Eagles up 28-8.
After the BDS defense held FCSH again on downs and forced a punt, the Irish intercepted a Christensen pass on the next possession near midfield.  During the run back, Eagle center Kellen Reinsch smashed the ball loose from the FCSH defender and BDS recovered the fumble.
"That two turnover play was bang-bang," Rotter said.  "It could've went either way.  A lot of the bounces went our way tonight.  We got some breaks."
Christensen would go on to hook-up with Norder for a score and Schardt added a PAT pass reception to have the home team up 36-8 at halftime.  
Christensen opened up the second half with a 30-yard run before being picked off in the end zone.  The 10-2 Irish would then muster its best offensive drive of the night only to be thwarted on downs at the BDS 8-yard line.  The Eagles would then answer with a 3-minute plus methodical drive of their own culminating in a 16-yard Christensen to Dickson pass in the corner of the end zone.
Schardt capped the BDS scoring early in the fourth quarter when the senior playmaker took a direct snap and rambled in from 31 yards out.  Norder also ended an Irish fourth quarter drive with an interception.
"We looked more fresh than they did this year," Rotter said.  "Last year, we came in beat up and this year, it was the other way around.  We've had some easier games and that's important.  We have been able to keep our guys fresh."
Ardissono agreed.
"We have no subs for our big six players," he said.  "And, we've kept them healthy for the most part all season long.  There have been a lot of games that they haven't had to play much in."
Blue Hill advanced to the D-2 final with a 42-30 win at Mullen.  The No. 4 Bobcats are led by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback John Rouse and running back Lane Deisley.