GOTHENBURG — Adams Central outlasted the Swedes in a battle of undefeated C1 juggernauts on Friday.
Class C1 No. 8 Gothenburg clung to a 14-12 lead heading into the final period and looked in control, but No. 3 Adams Central found footing late after a sporadic second half to score three consecutive touchdowns and solidify a 32-14 win on the road.
"I’m just happy to come out of here with a win," Adams Central head coach Shawn Mulligan said. "Gothenburg is such a good, physical team, and I thought they really strapped up defensiveLY and came at us full force from start to finish."
Gothenburg (3-1) contained Adams Central’s high-powered offense for most of the game, holding an offense that averages 36 points per game to 12 points and less than 250 yards of total offense through three quarters.
But a turn of unfortunate events in the form of a blocked punt followed by a failed fourth down punt fake by the Swedes not only swung momentum, but granted the Patriots good field position to score.
Led by quarterback Evan Johnson and running back Gabe Conant — which together combined for 358 of the team’s 407 offensive yards and all five touchdowns — the Patriots parlayed the defensive stops into a scoring outburst that churned out consecutive touchdowns within a 4-minute window.
"We struggled running the ball at times, and Evan would be the first to admit that even he struggled connecting with guys on the pass tonight," Mulligan admitted. "But I thought our
defense managed to keep us in the game and got a couple of breaks at the end to allow us to get on top."
The Patriots defense, however, struggled themselves stopping the Gothenburg ground attack early.
The Swedes opened the game with a 67-yard drive on the ground, but an interception at the nine-yard line cut their chances prematurely — a theme for both teams on Friday.
"Honestly, I thought they controlled the line of scrimmage for most of the game," Mulligan said of Gothenburg. "They make you look bad at certain times."
The Patriots would get going first, scoring on a 45-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Micah Gengenbach midway through the first quarter after two previous failed attempts.
Trading blows like prize fighters, the Swedes would go next, forcing a Patriots fumble that Gothenburg parlayed into a 55-yard drive punctuated by a Maguire Bartlett five-yard quarterback keeper in the second quarter.
Adams Central came away empty for most of the second period, yielding possession to the Swedes until a 13-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Gabe Conant with 34-second snapped the drought and gave the Patriots a 12-7 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, again, the Swedes controlled possession for most of the period. They controlled the ball for over 6 minutes, 30 seconds in the period, which ended in a Bartlett quarterback sneak on a fourth-and-one with 2:34 left.
The score marked the final trip to the end zone for Gothenburg, whose chances at winning the game fizzled in the final period.
The defining moment came with eight minutes left in regulation. Gothenburg’s failed attempt at a punt fake on fourth down gave Adams Central the ball on the Swedes 13-yard line.
This time the Patriots went to Conant for a four-yard touchdown run with 7:55 left in regulation.
And after another failed attempt by Gothenburg, the Patriots went to Conant again for a 23-yard touchdown run to extend their lead to 24-14.
The Patriots would add another touchdown, a 64-yard pass from Johnson to Gengenbach that extended their lead to 32-14, after a desperation drive by Gothenburg came up empty with less than two minutes in the game.
The Swedes return to action against O’Neill on Sept. 27 at home, while undefeated Adams Central will travel to Ord.
Adams Central (4-0) 6 6 0 20 — 32
Gothenburg (3-1) 0 7 7 0 — 14
A: Johnson to Gengenbach for a 45yrd pass (PAT no good)
G: Bartlett on a 5yrd run (PAT good)
A: Johnson to Conant for a 13yrd pass (2pt conversion no good)
G: Bartlett on a 1yrd run (PAT good)
A: Conant on a 4yrd run (2pt conversion no good)
A: Conant on a 23yrd run (PAT good)
A: Johnson to Gengenbach on a 64yrd pass (PAT good)