WYNOT, Neb. — No. 1 Falls City Sacred Heart had the first and the last word on defense Monday in beating Wynot 61-44 in the Eight Man-2 semifinals.
The Irish opened the game with three consecutive defensive stops and closed out the win with four in a row after Wynot was within three points with 9:13 to go.
“The second quarter was pretty awful for us on defense,” Irish senior Chaz Dunn said, “but we then made some adjustments.”
Dunn contributed to the win on both sides of the ball. He had two of the three interceptions off Wynot quarterback Jackson Sudbeck while throwing for four touchdowns and running for one.
The Irish (12-0) will play at Memorial Stadium for the first time. Their 2:45 p.m. game next Monday against No. 7 Stuart (11-1) will be for the school's first football title since the Irish won six straight from 1989 to '94.
Sudbeck was 25 of 51 for 410 yards and five touchdowns. His senior season ended with 55 touchdown passes.
The No. 3 Blue Devils (11-1) never caught up to Sacred Heart after falling behind 20-0 in the first quarter as the Irish scored on a pair of Dunn touchdown passes and a 19-yard run by Sawyer Kean.
Wynot's first three possessions ended with a punt, an interception by Dunn and a failed fourth-down conversion.
Sudbeck was 2 of 7 to that point, then got hot to finish the half 11 of 22 for 268 yards. He flung scoring passes of 42 yards to Cody Stratman — who had gotten the first score of the game for Wynot on a 28-yard run — 57 yards to Davis Wieseler and 11 to Brady Stratman to trail 40-32.
Wynot finally recorded a three-and-out, then got to the Sacred Heart 1 with 3 seconds left in the half. After a spike, Sudbeck's pass for Cody Stratman was broken up by Dunn in the near corner of the end zone.
Stratman was the second option, Wynot coach Steve Heimes said, on a play the Blue Devils saw on tape had succeeded against the Irish.
“They were the first team that athletically were a match for us,” Heimes said.
Wynot fell behind 47-38 before scoring for the final time on Sudbeck's 7-yard pass to Brady Stratman.
The Blue Devils' last four possessions resulted in an interception by Jarod Fiegener, a three-and-out, an unsuccessful fourth-and-18 conversion from their 16 and Dunn's second pickoff.
“I never thought we were out of it until that one fourth-down play,” Heimes said.
After Fiegener's interception, Austin Malone caught his third touchdown pass of the game from Dunn. Sawyer Kean, who rushed for a game-high 223 yards, later scored for the fourth time Monday.
Sacred Heart coach Doug Goltz said the Irish's pass rush kicked in when it was needed.
“We had to get some stops sometime,” he said.
Falls City Sacred Heart (12-0) .......................................... 26 14 7 14—61
At Wynot (11-1) ................................................................ 8 24 6 6—44
FCSH: Colin Niemeyer 40 pass from Chaz Dunn (Yianni Haralabidis kick)
FCSH: Sawyer Kean 19 run (Haralabidis kick)
FCSH: Austin Malone 29 pass from Dunn (kick blocked)
W: Cody Stratman 28 run (Davis Wieseler pass from Jackson Sudbeck)
FCSH: Malone 49 pass from Dunn (kick failed)
W: Stratman 42 pass from Sudbeck (Wieseler pass from Sudbeck)
FCSH: Kean 3 run (Haralabidis kick)
W: Wieseler 57 pass from Sudbeck (Brady Stratman pass from Sudbeck)
FCSH: Dunn 54 run (Haralabidis kick)
W: Brady Stratman 11 pass from Sudbeck (Wieseler pass from Sudbeck)
W: C. Stratman 14 pass from Sudbeck (pass failed)
FCSH: Kean 51 run (Haralabidis kick)
W: B. Stratman 7 pass from Sudbeck (run failed)
FCSH: Malone 8 pass from Dunn (Haralabidis kick)
FCSH: Kean 3 run (Haralabidis kick)
RUSHING: FCSH, Kean 30-223, Dunn 7-98, Malone 1-9, Brandon Schawang 1-0, team 2-minus 4. W, Sudbeck 12-33, C. Stratman 5-46, B. Stratman 4-20.
PASSING: FCSH, Dunn 15-21-1 246. W, Sudbeck 24-51-3 410.
RECEIVING: FCSH, Malone 6-121, Dunn 3-26, Logan Schietel 2-15, Niemeyer 3-79, Sean Strasheim 1-5. W, B. Stratman 13-92, C. Stratman 8-150, Wieseler 6-168.