ALBION — Dylan Gentrup accounted for 294 total yards and five touchdowns Friday against Pierce to lead Boone Central/Newman Grove back to the Class C-1 state title game for the first time since winning it all in 2014.
The Cardinals pulled away in the second half of the 42-25 home victory.
Gentrup, a Telegram Super Senior, completed 10 of 16 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns and ran the ball 21 times for 88 yards and two more scores.
A fake punt on offense, then a blocked punt on defense changed the momentum in the game.
Leading 27-19 in the second half, No. 6 BC/NG (10-2) got a goal-line stand, dropping Collin Tinker for a loss on fourth-and-goal to cling to its lead.
The 15th-seeded Bluejays (7-5) quickly forced a fourth down, but BC/NG head coach Mark Hudson dialed up a fake punt for Gentrup and the senior converted.
The Cardinals marched into Pierce territory before Gentrup threw an interception on fourth down to end the drive. BC/NG’s defense responded by forcing a three-and-out, then blocked the Bluejays’ punt for a safety, giving the Cardinals a two-possession lead for the first time all game.
BC/NG returned the free kick inside Pierce territory and Gentrup hooked up with Will Frey for the tight end’s second TD of the night, this one covering 17 yards to give the Cardinals a 36-19 lead with 7:41 left in the game.
Gentrup showed his defensive skills on the next possession, intercepting a Pierce pass. He finished the ensuing drive with a 9-yard score to ice the game.
Pierce struck first in the playoff semifinal. After pouncing on a Gentrup fumble, the Bluejays drove 34 yards in three plays to take a 6-0 lead just over four minutes into the game.
The Cardinals answered right back with a scoring drive of their own. Gentrup found Ethan Dozler for a 43-yard gain, putting BC/NG inside the Pierce 20-yard line. Gentrup was at it again, converting a fourth-and-3 with a 6-yard scamper before finding Cody Nelson in the end zone for a 3-yard score to tie the game at 6-all.
Pierce retook the lead on Dalton Freeman’s 1-yard score on fourth-and-goal, but Gentrup evened the score again at 13-all with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Frey with 7:51 left in the first half.
BC/NG’s defense stepped up on the Bluejays’ next possession, forcing a three-and-out. After just a 2-yard punt, the Cardinals took over inside the Pierce 25-yard line. Levi Krueger capitalized on the field position with his 17th rushing score of the season, giving the Cardinals their first lead of the game at 20-13 midway through the second quarter.
Pierce scored again on a fourth down to pull within one, but a missed PAT, the team's second of the game, kept the score at 20-19 with 47 seconds left in the opening half.
That was too much time for Gentrup and the Cardinals.
The senior quarterback led a 67-yard drive, finding Brenden Beierman for a 44-yard gain, then scoring on a keeper from 3 yards out to make it 27-19 at halftime.
The BC/NG defense took over in the second half, holding Pierce scoreless until the final minute of the game.
The Cardinals play top-seeded Norfolk Catholic (12-0), which beat Wahoo 14-0 in the other semifinal, on Nov. 21 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln in the Class C-1 state title game.
The Knights beat BC/NG 48-35 on Sept. 15.