Last play heartbreaker for Bremen

Nathan Mullen has running room in semi state action at Eastbrook
Ron Haramia
Staff Writer

One play. One extra play.
After looking like the game had been won on a missed field goal in the closing seconds, another chance gave a different ending as Eastbrook defeated Bremen, 34-33, to win the Class 2A Northern Semistate high school football game at Freck Field Friday.
Ironically, Eastbrook (13-1) lost last year’s semistate game on a last-second field goal on the same field.
It was a stunning end to a fantastic Bremen (11-3) season. The Lions were looking for their first state final appearance since 1995.
With Bremen holding a 33-24 lead and eight minutes remaining, Eastbrook went 79 yards in 14 plays to cut the lead to 33-31 and 4:29 left to play.
Bremen took over on its 20 and after a diving catch by Justin Zumbrun, had the ball in Panther territory and 3:18 on the clock. Two plays later, Jacob Wunder’s 41-yard run looked like the game-clincher, but penalties on both teams brought the ball back to the 38. A sack on third down gave Bremen a fourth-and-11 from the 46 and decided to run a play instead of punt. The pass was incomplete, one of just two on the night, and with 2:41 remaining, Eastbrook took over.
“We thought we had a good play for that situation, but we didn’t execute it and get it done,” said Bremen head coach Jordan Leeper. “We can go back and second guess ourselves – punt it or go for it – but our kids wanted to go out on the field.”
“We expected them to punt it,” said Eastbrook head coach Jeff Adamson. “We were going to go for the block. We thought they’d play field position. There is so much to stop with their offense - throwing game, running game. Their line is awesome. They have a ton of weapons. Giving up a touchdown on the first play of the game didn’t help things. I knew it was going to be tough moving the ball against them and I knew it was going to be tough to stop them. I felt that way every possession.”
A 14-yard pass, then a 15-yard run by star running back Xaine Kirby (36 carries, 213 yards) put the ball on the 15. With less than a minute to play, a sack by Wyatt Pollard pushed the Panthers back to the 19 and they lined up for a potential game-winning 36-yard field goal and 28 ticks left. The kick was wide left, but a personal foul was called. Now with the ball on the 9, no timeouts left and less than 20 seconds on the clock, Panthers QB Dylan Bragg ran a keeper to put the ball in the center of the field. The clock was still running though, and with Eastbrook’s field goal team taking the field like there was a fire drill, somehow was able to get a 27-yard field goal off – and good – as time ran out.
“Shilts is an all-state kicker. I was surprised he missed the first one,” added Adamson. “I didn’t see the roughing. I was watching the ball. (Scrambling at the end) wasn’t what we talked about. We wanted to get the field goal team on and we were going to spike it.”
“Roughing the holder I guess,” countered Leeper of the crucial penalty. “I guess we’ll have to see it on the film. I didn’t see it. I was watching the ball. Both teams played a heck of a game. They made one more play than we did.”
It didn’t take long for the shootout to begin as Ryan Caldwell connected with Justin Zumbrun on an 80-yard bomb on the first play of the game.
Eastbrook then went 74 yards on 10 plays (47 from Kirby) in about two minutes to tie the score at 7.
After Bremen turned it over on downs, Eastbrook had another 74-yard drive for points, this one taking 15 plays to end the first quarter with a short, scoring run the first play of the second.
Bremen matched that with a 70-yard scoring drive over 12 plays to tie the score again at 14. An interference call on the third play was pivotal, as was a 12-yard connection to Zumbrun that put the ball on the Eastbrook 2. Caldwell punched it in from a yard out two plays later.
Bremen forced the first punt of the game on Eastbrook’s next possession and when the snap bounced to the punter, Hunter Bennitt drilled Shilts for a 14-yard loss. With 3:41 left until halftime, Bremen had the ball on the Panthers’ 24 and needed just over two minutes to get back into the endzone for a 21-14 lead.
Eastbrook took the kickoff with just 1:03 before intermission, but three long running plays helped to get the ball to the Bremen 11 with :08.2 showing. From there, the Panthers opted for a field goal try and Shilts connected from 28 yards out and the entertaining first half ended with the Lions up, 21-17.
Caldwell finished 12-for-14 for 239 yards passing and two touchdowns. He also had two short TD runs. Justin Zumbrun finished with seven receptions for 206 yards and one TD. Nathan Mullen was the leading rusher with 101 yards on 19 carries, with a long of 42.
Eastbrook finished with 387 rushing yards and an eye-popping 28 first downs. Justin Singer ran for 95 yards on 14 carries.
Class 2A semistate
At Marion
Bremen 7 14 6 6 – 33
Eastbrook 7 10 7 10 – 34
B – Justin Zumbrun 80 pass from Ryan Caldwell (Collin Kerr kick)
E – Justin Singer 4 run (Zane Shilts kick)
E – Singer 6 run (Shilts kick)
B – Caldwell 1 run (Kerr kick)
B – Caldwell 5 run (Kerr kick)
E – Shilts FG 28
E – Xaine Kirby 1 run (Shilts kick)
B – Collin Kerr 13 pass from Caldwell (pass failed)
B – Jacob Wunder 2 run (kick blocked)
E – Edward Keasling 1 run (Shilts kick)
E – Shilts FG 27