KEARNEY — Grand Island scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to escape with a 32-31 victory over Kearney Friday night at UNK’s Ron and Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field.
The Islanders, last year’s state runner-up, fell behind 31-18 when Kearney scored two touchdowns in a 22-second span early in the fourth quarter.
Kearney’s Gabe Gilsdorf scored on a 3-yard run with 10:14 left, then Will Richter intercepted a Carson Cahoy pass on the next play from scrimmage, setting up a 10-yard run by Miko Maessner, who erased the sour memories of last year’s game by rushing for 151 yards on 26 carries.
"We’re up by two scores (we’re thinking) we’re going to win the football game," said Kearney coach Brandon Cool.
Then things went bad.
Cahoy broke free for a 65-yard touchdown and the Islanders returned the favor when Broc Douglass intercepted a Colin Murray pass, setting up the Islanders’ last scoring drive.
"That was my call, my decision right there," Cool said of the interception. "They took advantage of it and on fourth down they made a play and obviously won the football game."
It was Cahoy and Douglass who made the play. The Islanders had first and goal at the five but three plays later faced fourth-and-eight. Cahoy found Douglass along the sideline of the end zone and Douglass made the catch falling backward. It was his second touchdown catch of the night.
But Kearney still had more than three minutes to work with and the Bearcats had a chance. Sophomore James Dakan, who had hit a 27-yard field goal just before halftime, lined up for the game-winner from 41 yards out.
Cool said, "I thought it was in. On my sideline, I thought it was good. I thought we’d won the game."
Dakan watched anxiously and waited and waited before dropping his head as the referees signaled, ending Kearney’s hopes of an upset.
"The kid has done a great job kicking for us all fall. That was a big field goal right before halftime to make it 10 points so he’ll be just fine. He’s an outstanding kicker, so he’ll recover," Cool said.
He felt that way about the team, too.
"I like the mentality of our football team. I like how hard they compete and how hard they practice," Cool said. "This one will sting, but I think it will make us better at the end."
G. Island 32, Kearney 31
Score by Quarters
G. Island (1-0) 12 0 6 14 — 32
Kearney (0-1) 7 3 7 14 — 31
KHS — Seth Stroh 28 pass from Colin Murray (James Dakan kick) 8:08.
GISH — Broc Douglass 33 pass from Carson Cahoy (kick failed) 4:32.
GISH — Caleb Francl 5 run (kick failed) 4:02.
KHS — Dakan 27 FG, 0:42.
KHS — Stroh 50 pass from Murray (Dakan kick), 9:04
GISH — Francl 5 run (run failed) 7:02.
KHS — Gabe Gilsdorf 3 run (Dakan kick) 10:14
KHS — Miko Maessner 10 run (Dakan kick) 9:52
GISH — Carson Cahoy 65 run (Braxton Mendez kick) 7:46
GISH — Douglass 8 pass from Cahoy (Mendez kick) 3:14