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Norton upsets No. 1 ranked Hoisington, 10-8
spt_hg_QB Hade Malvin rushes through the cardinal defense.jpg
Norton's quarterback Hade Malvin (1) rushes through the Cardinal defense. - photo by Hugo Gonzalez

Hoisington vs Norton substate highlights 11-22-19

Hoisington vs Norton substate highlights 11-22-19
By: Hugo Gonzalez

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NORTON — The Hoisington Cardinals were one defensive play from the school's first state football championship game. 

Norton quarterback Kade Melvin ruined the Cardinals' dream when he completed three passes for first downs and dashed for a fourth down conversion on the Bluejays' final clutch drive.

Norton's Luke Wahlmeier converted a 32-yard field to shock the No. 1-ranked Hoisington Cardinals 10-8 in Friday's 2A semifinal football game. Norton ran 16 pressure-packed plays to cover 47 yards on the game-winning drive. Melvin passed for 193 yards and rushed for 72 yards to account for 265 of Norton's 267 offensive yards.

Melvin escaped Hoisington's pressure to deliver four clutch plays. Devon Gasper caught a 15-yard pass on 3rd-and-12. Brandon Vacura caught a 19-yard pass on 3rd-and-12. Melvin scrambled past tacklers for a 5-yard gain on 4th-and-4 at the Cardinal 37-yard line. Carter Jones delivered the game’s biggest play on a 16-yard reception to the Cardinal 22-yard line.

“I have a ton of faith in our guys, but it wasn't meant to be,” said Hoisington coach Zach Baird. “Their quarterback is a great player who makes smart plays. When we needed to make a big defensive play, we didn’t do it. When Norton needed a big offensive play, they got it done."

Baird held the Cardinals in high regard after a school-record tying 11-1 record. The Cardinals showed their class, exchanging hugs with teammates despite the hard-fought loss in bone-chilling 28-degree temperatures on a snow-covered field that made footing challenging. 

"I told them I loved them," Baird said. "It's sad to see those seniors go. I was proud how those guys fought tonight."

The Cardinals (11-1) rumbled 81 yards on 14 hard-fought plays for an 8-7 lead with 4:27 left in the game. Offensive left guard Cade Boxberger saved the drive when he alertly recovered Wyatt Pedigo's fumble at Norton's 8-yard line. Pedigo scored on an 8-yard run and dived over the goal-line on the 2-point play for an 8-7 lead.

"Norton made us work, but we got in a rhythm and wore them down a little," Baird said. "Norton is big and physical up front. Hats off to them. It was hard to move them off the line of scrimmage."

Hoisington's Pedigo and Quincy Cross intercepted passes to keep Norton scoreless for three quarters. Middle linebacker Pedigo had 12 tackles and Joshua Ball had six stops.

"I was proud of our defensive guys who gave us a chance to stay in the game," Baird said.

Norton led 7-0 when Melvin rolled 27 yards around right end. Melvin ran four consecutive plays for 46 yards as Norton employed power football with three lead blockers on Melvin's end sweeps. 

Two-time state football champion Norton (9-3) lost 38-7 to Hoisington in their previous 2A District meeting during the regular season.

"When you're playing a semifinal game on the road, you're going to see a good football team," Baird said. "The first match-up had nothing to do with tonight. Norton did a much better job up front tonight." 

All-state fullback Pedigo gained 67 first-half yards and quarterback Mason Haxton gained 68 yards. Norton's Jonah Ruder made the Bluejays' key play when he chased down Haxton from behind after a 67-yard dash. Norton's Tucker Pfannenstiel tackled Hunter Morris short of a first down at Norton's 10-yard line. 

Pedigo finished with 2,354 yards and 37 rushing touchdowns. The North Dakota commit gained 5,173 career yards and 74 rushing TDs. 

Hoisington rushed for 154 first-half yards in a scoreless tie at halftime. The Cardinals started drives from their own 7, 15 and 16-yard lines. Wahlmeier fumbled a fourth down pitchout at Hoisington's 22-yard line.

Hoisington 0 0 0 8 — 8

Norton 0 0 0 10 — 10

N—Kade Melvin 27 run (Luke Wahlmeier kick)—11:54

H—Wyatt Pedigo 8 run (Pedigo run)—4:27

N—Wahlmeier 32 FG—0:06


RUSHING—H—40-248; Pedigo 22-102; Mason Haxton 11-103; Hunter Morris 3-26; Cade Mason 4-17; N—35-74; Melvin 23-72; Wahlmeier 8-(-8); Tucker Pfannanstiel 1-3; Gavin Sproul 2-3; Jonah Ruder 1-4. 

PASSING—H—Haxton 1-8-0, 2; N—Melvin 15-25-2, 193.

RECEIVING—H—Pedigo 1-2; N—Brandon Vacura 3-47;  Jonah Ruder 3-45; Devon Gasper 2-34; Wahlmeier 3-30; Carter Jones 3-26; Gavin Sproul 1-11.