DONIPHAN — Class C-2, No. 7 Doniphan-Trumbull responded when it needed to.
After seeing No. 6 and defending champion Centennial rally back from a 14-0 deficit to tie the game in the fourth quarter, Keithan Stafford caught a 27-yard TD touchdown pass from Griffin Hendricks.
That proved to be enough as the Cardinals posted a 22-14 victory over the Broncos Friday at Doniphan.
DT coach Brent Breckner said Stafford’s touchdown catch brought energy back into the Cardinals.
“He’s the kind of kid that makes the whole thing run,” he said. “He’s a great kid who does things the right way. He’s good catching the football and good running the football. I can’t say enough for he did for us tonight.”
Stafford, who caught six passes for 71 yards with two scores and also had 16 carries for 99 yards, said he knew what to expect before the touchdown catch.
“I knew the kid was going to jump my out route. He was doing it all night,” he said. “I told Griffin to let me hit it there. He couldn’t have thrown that pass any better than that.
“It was a big play. It got our sideline energized and our fans were going crazy. It was awesome to see.”
Centennial hurt themselves in the first half because of special teams and missed opportunities.
The Broncos appeared to have a score on a Davon Brees 7-yard run, but a holding penalty called the play back. After that, quarterback Cooper Gierhan fumbled a shotgun snap and lost 17 yards on the play. Centennial couldn’t convert after that.
Then they had trouble with their punting which resulted in two Doniphan-Trumbull scores.
The Cardinals blocked a Caleb Horne punt, then Grant Williams picked up the ball and returned it 22 yards to put on the board in the second quarter.
On the next possession, Horne mishandled the snap and was stopped at the DT 48-yard line. Seven plays later, Hendricks found Stafford on a screen pass that resulted in a 22-yard score for a 14-0 lead at the half.
Centennial coach Evan Klanceky said mistakes in the first half hurt their chances.
“We can’t have those kind of mistakes, especially in a playoff game,” he said. “We left a lot of points out in the first half I think. We had some opportunities and didn’t capitalize on them. We were actually happy to be down 14-0 at the half with the way we played in the first half.”
Centennial quickly regrouped to start the second half as it stopped the Cardinals on their first two possessions.
The Broncos used long-play drives on their first two possessions to get back into the ballgame. Brees, who had 20 carries for 96 yards, scored both touchdowns on an 11-yard run and a 3-yard run to help Centennial tie the game at 14-all.
“We made some adjustments on both offense and defense that helped us out,” Klanceky said. “Brees is a player for us and he has about 1,300 yards on the season for us on the ground and close to 1,700 to 1,800 all purpose yards. He’s a good football player.”
After Hendricks found Stafford for the go-ahead score on the next possession, the Cardinals stopped Centennial on their next possession.
However, the Broncos didn’t allow Doniphan-Trumbull to run out the clock on the next possession and got the ball back.
Cooper Gierhan found Brees for a 50-yard gain that took the Broncos to the 30-yard line. Centennial took the ball to the 14-yard line but the Cardinals held them on four downs to get the win.
Breckner said it was a game filled with momentum swings.
“We had it going for a little bit, then they did. That’s the thing about it. They are a good football team and are very well coached,” Breckner said. “We knew it would it would be a big game. They adjusted as we did. It was a great high school football game.”
The win puts Doniphan-Trumbull into the state quarterfinals with a matchup with No. 2 Oakland-Craig, which defeated Hartington Cedar Catholic 28-26.
“It’s a great feeling to be moving on,” Stafford said. “It was a great team effort by everyone.”