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Thunder Pull Away from Osage City After Close First Half, Advance to Sub-State
By Jared Sleppy
Copyright: MSC Sports
11/10/2023

Nemaha Central pulled away from Osage City in the second half after being tested in for the first three quarters. The Thunder went on to win 53-27 scoring 20 unanswered points in a span of 1:41.

Their defense made a statement early with Carter Rottinghaus intercepting Osage City quarterback Kasen Parsons on their first play from scrimmage. He would return it 47 yards into the redzone to set up Nemaha Central at the Indians’ 13-yard line. Two plays later, Carter Hajek was in the endzone for his first touchdown of the day.

The Thunder defense forced a three-and-out and the offense quickly moved down the field for a four-play 45-yard drive with Cooper Kramer getting a nine-yard touchdown to go up 14-0 with 7:20 still left in the first quarter.

Osage City wouldn’t go down without a fight, though, with the Indians getting their first signs of life after a 66-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Tate Smith. They would score a touchdown with senior running back Cooper Parsons punching it in from three yards out.

Nemaha Central responded quickly with a 55-yard rushing touchdown by Hajek on the first play of the drive to go up 20-7.

The defense got yet another stop and Rottinghaus was the recipient of the team’s lone passing touchdown from Hajek to make it 26-7 to make the game feel like it was starting to get out of hand.

However, the Indians would get good field position thanks to a solid kickoff return. They would march 60 yards down the field and score on a Cooper Parsons ten-yard rushing touchdown to cut the deficit to 26-14 with 10:17 left in the second quarter.

The Thunder offense marched down the field with their consistent rushing attack into Osage City territory once again. However, they would attempt a fake punt on a 4th & 5 from the Indians’ 43-yard line, and it failed.

This would be a turning point that would give the Indians new life. They were able to turn the turnover on downs into points with Cooper Parsons throwing a touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Dylan Theel to cut the deficit to 26-20, which would be the halftime score.

The opening kickoff from Osage City skipped over the head of Hajek and he retreated to the one-yard line to pick it up. He went on to make men miss and scampered 99 yards down the sideline to return it to the house for a huge momentum gainer for the Thunder.

Osage City was able to create their own momentum, though, after both teams traded turnovers including an Aidan Broxterman interception. Osage City cut the lead back down to six with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Kasen Parsons to Cooper Parsons with 6:31 left in the third quarter.

That was the point where Nemaha Central essentially took the game by the reins and forced the Indians to play their game. Hajek led a 10-play 80-yard touchdown drive with every single play being a Hajek run. His touchdown would come on a three-yard run to give them a 39-27 lead with 1:30 left in the third quarter.

Osage City felt like their next drive was a must-score drive because the Indians went for it on 4th & 12 from their own 33-yard line and the pass from Kasen Parsons was intercepted by Hajek and returned for a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter. This put Nemaha Central up 46-27.

The score wouldn’t remain there long, because Nemaha Central would get another pick-six on the next play from scrimmage. This time it was Cooper Kramer that jumped a bubble screen and took it 31 yards to the house to go up 53-27 with 11:49 remaining in the game.

Jack Macke and Hajek would get their fourth and fifth defensive interceptions to put a stamp on this one to send the Thunder back to the sub-state round once again.

With the win, Nemaha Central will take on Sabetha in a rematch of their sub-state battle from a year ago. The Thunder improve to 11-0 and the Bluejays will enter the contest 10-1 with their lone loss being against Nemaha Central in Week 8 of the regular season.


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Hiawatha, KS 66434
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