Monday, 25 September 2023
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Nemaha Central's Big Second Half Secures Their Spot in 2A State Title Game
By Brandon Tadtman
Copyright: MSC Sports

The Nemaha Central Thunder advanced to the 2A State Championship game next Saturday in Salina after defeating Sabetha on Friday night in Sub-State 30-14. 

The game script played out similar to the first meeting which was the regular season finale in October. 

Sabetha played very well in the first half but Nemaha Central was able to pull away in the second half. 

This time it was Nemaha Central who got out to a quick lead as they took seven minutes off the clock on the opening drive of the game and led 8-0 after a 1-yard touchdown run by Cooper Hajek. 

Turnovers and punts were the name of the game for most of the half after that but Sabetha was able to put together a huge 98-yard touchdown drive late in the second quarter to pull within 8-7 going into halftime. 

That drive for the Bluejays was capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run from Collin Menold. 

Sabetha began the second half with the ball and failed to convert on a fourth and one which gave the Thunder a short field and they were able to capitalize to extend their lead to 16-7. 

Hajek ran in a touchdown from six yards out which finished off the quick 37-yard drive. 

Sabetha's very next offensive snap was a fumble which was recovered by Nemaha Central's Carter Rottinghaus. Rottinghaus ended the game with two fumble recoveries. 

That gave the Thunder another short field as they started that next drive from the Sabetha 28-yard line. They scored once again with a 3-yard run from Hajek which gave them a 24-7 lead after another two-point conversion. 

The Bluejays would get a touchdown at the end of the third quarter to keep it within 10 points at 24-14 as Menold ran in another score from 1-yard out. 

Thunder quarterback Brayden Uphaus would essentially put the game on ice in the fourth quarter with a 46 yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 30-14 which would go on to be the final score. 

Hajek finished the game with three touchdowns to lead the Thunder while Menold led the Bluejays ground attack with two touchdowns. 

Nemaha Central is 12-0 and back in the 2A State Championship game for the first time since 2019, which was the last time they won the title. They will face undefeated Kingman who knocked out #1 ranked Southeast of Saline in double overtime. 

Sabetha finishes their season with a record of 9-3 with two losses to Nemaha Central and one loss to Holton, who are both playing in State Championship games in 2022. 

**Photo by Dari Hilbert** 

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Hiawatha, KS 66434
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