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Wilber-Clatonia falls to Norfolk Catholic in state semis

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NORFOLK -- Wilber-Clatonia’s Cinderella run in the Class C2 State playoffs came to an end with a 35-12 loss to top-seeded Norfolk Catholic in the semifinals Friday night in Norfolk.

Wilber-Clatonia reached the semifinals with upset wins over fourth-seeded Yutan in the first round and fifth-seeded Hastings St. Cecilia in the quarterfinals, but turnovers and big plays were too much for the 13th-seeded Wolverines to overcome on a chilly and windy semifinal night in Norfolk.

Wilber-Clatonia got the ball to start the game at their own 30 yard line and picked up two first downs by running the football. A negative play forced the Wolverines to pass, though, and it resulted in an interception.

Wilber-Clatonia, who has been battling injuries all season, were dealt another blow early in the game when Mason Combs exited with an injury and never returned.

The two teams would trade punts on their next drives before Norfolk Catholic would put a nine play scoring drive together – all run plays. Karter Kerkman would cap the drive with an eight yard touchdown run to give the Knights a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

The Wolverines moved the ball through the air on their next drive with the wind at their back. Coy Rosentreader had a pass of 35 yards to Tyson Kreshel and another pass of 30 yards to Houston Broz, getting Wilber-Clatonia into the red zone. A sack by Norfolk Catholic halted the drive, though, and a 32 yard field goal attempt was missed, giving the ball back to Norfolk Catholic.

The home team would take advantage of the defensive stop. On the seventh play of the ensuing drive, Kerkman would break free for a 44 yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 14-0.

It looked like disaster struck when Wilber-Clatonia fumbled on the first play of their next drive and Norfolk Catholic recovered. But on the very next play, Jonathan Zoubek would come up with an interception to give the ball back to the Wolverines.

Wilber-Clatonia drove it deep into Norfolk Catholic territory with a 39 yard pass from Rosentreader to Broz, setting the Wolverines up inside the 5 yard line with four seconds left in the half. Wilber-Clatonia would run one more pass play, but came up just short of the goal line as time expired, keeping the score at 14-0 at the half.

Norfolk Catholic would get the ball to start the second half and it took them just four running plays to score. Carter Janssen would cap the drive with a 19 yard touchdown run to extend the Knights’ lead to 21-0.

After the two teams exchanged punts on their next drives, Wilber-Clatonia would finally put a scoring drive together on their next drive. They started at their own 33 yard line and a 31 yard pass from Rosentreader to Carter Skleba on the fifth play of the drive set up a 20 yard touchdown run by Rosentreader on the very next play. The Wolverines would botch the extra point, though, keeping the score at 21-6.

The Wolverine defense would then force a turnover. Kreshel forced a fumble and Broz recovered, but on the very next play, Wilber-Clatonia would fumble it right back to the Knights.

The turnover would be huge because Kerman would take the second play of the next drive 58 yards for a touchdown to extend the Knight lead to 28-6.

Wilber-Clatonia threw an interception on the first play of their next drive, giving Norfolk Catholic the ball back in Wolverine territory at the 42 yard line. Norfolk would capitalize on the turnover with an eight play scoring drive that was capped by another touchdown run by Kerkman to extend the lead to 35-6.

Wilber-Clatonia wouldn’t give up, though. They would put together a lengthy scoring drive and Carter Skleba would cap the drive with a touchdown run. The two point conversion failed, keeping the score at 35-12 with less than eight minutes remaining in the game. That would end up being the final score.

Wilber-Clatonia’s season comes to an end after posting a 7-5 record. Norfolk Catholic moves onto the Class C2 State Championship game against second-seeded Archbishop Bergan at Memorial Stadium.

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