Cards Fly Past Commodores

New Bremen quarterback Mitchell Hays (14) runs in for a touchdown in the first half of a Division VII, Region 28 semifinal against Perry on Saturday at Piqua Alexander Stadium.
Staff Writer

Zack Bertke needed four plays to cover 60 yards on the Cardinals' game-opening scoring drive.

The Commodores didn't surpass 60 yards of total offense until the second half.

Mitchell Hays scored four total touchdowns and Bertke had two scores as well as the New Bremen Cardinals football team raced out to a 42-0 lead before halftime and its defense was sour for most of the night in a 42-14 win over the Perry Commodores in a Division VII Region 28 semifinal on Saturday at Piqua Alexander Field.

"I think it was just getting off to a good start," said New Bremen coach Chris Schmidt, whose team is the region's eighth seed. "Obviously being able to establish the run is what we try to do pretty much every game. Being able to do that, I thought, was huge."

The Cardinals (9-3) advance to the regional championship on Saturday against Midwest Athletic Conference rival and top-ranked Marion Local Flyers (10-2) at Harmon Field in Wapakoneta. The Flyers, the region's No. 2 seed, held off Fort Loramie in overtime, 24-21, at Grand Lake Health System Field in St. Marys.

Leading 7-0, Hays' first touchdown came on New Bremen's second possession, during which he carried the ball four times and capped the 10-play, 77-yard drive with an 8-yard run up the gut for the score.

Perry (8-4), which had won eight consecutive games and was in the regional semifinal for the first time in program history, went three-and-out, and Hays' 15-yard run on fourth-and-5 put the Cardinals on top, 21-0. 

The Commodores fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and penalties marred the Cardinals' next drive. They still managed to march down the field, and Hays connected with Patrick Wells for a 16-yard touchdown.

A Kyle Tenkman interception at the goal line thwarted Perry's first chance to score, and Bertke rumbled 14 yards seven plays later to make it 35-0 with 2:10 before half.

Having done his work on offense already, Hays took it upon himself to make his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball too. The junior stepped in front of a Ryan Yingst pass on an out route near the numbers at the left side of the field and went 33 yards untouched for the pick-six just 51 seconds after Bertke's score.

Hays had 73 yards on 10 carries and added 108 yards through the air on 8-of-13 passing.

"He's one of our playmakers," Schmidt said. Hays also caught a 10-yard pass from Nolan Bornhorst in the second quarter. "Obviously we look to him to make plays within the context of the offense and defense. He did a great job tonight leading, everybody else following along and making plays as well.

"It's fun when you see a lot of kids making different plays."

Bertke had a game-high 111 rushing yards on just seven carries as the Cardinals totaled 290 rushing yards for the game.

Hays' interception return for a touchdown was the third straight Perry drive that resulted in a turnover, and the Commodores had just 12 offensive plays in the first half for 50 total yards despite Yingst throwing for 70 yards before intermission.

"We kind of shot ourselves in the foot from the get-go," Perry coach Dan Baker said. "(The Cardinals) played hard and physical. Couple of our guys didn't quite play as hard and physical."

Perry's only scores came late in the fourth quarter against New Bremen's backup defense. Yingst hit Terry Riley for a 6-yard touchdown with 1:06 to play, and after the Commodores recovered an onside kick Yingst followed an incomplete pass with a 20-yard run then a TD toss to Devares Glenn from the 18 as six second remained on the clock.

Yingst finished his night 11-of-21 for 226 yards while adding 17 yards on seven carries. Riley caught four passes for 88 yards, and Jaquarius Austin had 60 yards on three receptions.

New Bremen dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, as its starters had only one play go for negative yards in the first half and went into the break with 230 yards on the ground.

On the other hand, Perry had negative-20 yards on the ground in the first two quarters.

Saturday's win marks just the second time in program history New Bremen has reached the regional final, the last coming in 2004 when it lost to eventual state champion Hardin Northern.

For the full story, see Monday's print edition of The Evening Leader.