CEDAR FALLS, Ia. — Andrew O’Donnell led Sioux Center from one end of the field to the other Saturday on his team’s first drive of the Class 2-A semifinals.
He spent the rest of the afternoon on crutches, watching as Cole Neary repeatedly did the same for Carroll Kuemper.
Neary ran for three touchdowns, threw another and the top-ranked Knights shut down an O’Donnell-less Sioux Center offense, reaching the state title game for the first time in school history with a 28-6 win at the UNI-Dome.
O’Donnell, the leading rusher and passer for the No. 10 Warriors, led Sioux Center with 77 yards on the opening possession before he suffered a leg injury stretching for extra yardage near the Kuemper 10-yard line.
“That was kind of a game changer,” Neary said.
The Warriors (10-3) managed just 76 yards the rest of the game while the Knights (13-0) gradually figured out how to move the football against Sioux Center’s 3-5 defense.
“It’s something we’ve never seen this year,” Neary said. “They were blitzing a linebacker left, right, loop, pull. Everything you can think of, they were doing with their linebackers and it was something we hadn’t seen before, something that’s tough to prepare for.”
After a three-and-out and a fumble on its first two possessions, Kuemper capitalized on a short field, driving 42 yards and scoring on a 6-yard Neary run to take the lead.
The Knights tacked on a touchdown in every quarter the rest of the way. Neary connected with Alex Drees for a 66-yard touchdown and the senior quarterback scrambled for a 28-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“That’s something we just haven’t used,” Kuemper coach Chad Klein said of Neary’s feet. “We didn’t want to get him banged up during the season. … But he’s a big boy. He can take some hits.”
SC–Kleith 1 run (kick failed)
CK–Neary 6 run (Niehaus kick)
CK–Drees 66 pass from Neary (kick failed)
CK–Neary 1 run (Drees pass from Neary)
CK–Neary 28 run (Schleisman kick)
Rushing–Sioux Center: Huisman 11-32; Kumeper Rupiper 19-56.
Passing–Sioux Center: O’Donnell 2-2-0-39; Kuemper: Neary 14-29-0-165.
Receiving–Sioux Center: Huisman 2-44; Kuemper: Drees 3-82.