COZAD — With heavy winds blasting Haymaker Stadium, some of the plans of the Cozad football team’s coaching staff needed to be altered Friday.
Those alterations led to a 19-0 shutout of visiting Gothenburg in the latest installment of the long-standing Dawson County rivalry. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Haymakers’ top offensive weapon is probably the fastest running back in Class C1.
Jake Paulsen rushed for 242 yards on 26 carries and scored all three of Cozad’s touchdowns in the win, including an 85-yard scoring run. The Haymakers are 5-0 overall and 2-0 in District C1-9, as is Kearney Catholic, and the two will meet in Kearney in a critical C1-9 showdown next Friday.
"We wanted to throw the ball a lot more," said the Haymakers’ first-year coach Brian Cargill, "but with this wind, we just couldn’t. It cut out about two-thirds of our offense, but our offensive line played very well tonight, and I’m really proud of how our whole team handled things."
Gothenburg (3-2, 1-1) couldn’t get much going against the Cozad offense, as the Swedes couldn’t sustain a drive against the speedy Haymaker defense.
"We play to our strengths on defense," Cargill said. "And our staff made some nice tweaks at halftime."
Cozad outgained the Swedes 381 yards to 153. Both teams racked up few passing yards, but the Haymakers seemed to consistently win the battle of field position — especially in the second half.
Even when the Swedes pinned the Haymakers deep, Paulsen and other backs helped Cozad move the ball. Paulsen’s 85-yard run came with 3:53 left in the first half, on only the second play of a drive, to break a scoreless tie.
Paulsen’s second score came after a short third-quarter punt by Gothenburg’s Trent Long, somewhat into the wind, with Cozad taking over at the Swede 39-yard line. Paulsen, who took a pounding on his 26 carries, powered through tacklers for a 20-yard touchdown.
On a fourth-and-4 play from the Gothenburg 9 in the game’s final minute, Paulsen went off the right side for his third and final score.
Blake Ristine led Gothenburg, accounting for 71 of the Swedes’ 160 rushing yards. Swede quarterback Jacob Clark left the game in the third quarter with an apparent foot or ankle injury.
The two teams met twice last year with Cozad blowing out the Swedes in Gothenburg, but the Swedes returned the favor by winning a first-round playoff game at Haymaker Stadium.
Speaking of teams that beat Cozad at home, Kearney Catholic won handily at CHS last season. Cargill said the Stars will be a tough challenge again.
"They’ve got a great running back and some great skill players," he said. "We’ll have to tighten our bootstraps and go to work if we’re going to beat them."
Gothenburg ............................ 0 0 0 0 — 0
Cozad ..................................... 0 7 6 6 — 19
C — Jake Paulsen 85 run (Tysen Werner kick) 3:53
C — Paulsen 20 run (kick failed) 2:10
C — Paulsen 9 run (pass failed) 50.9