LINCOLN—The fight is finished.
A year removed from a runner-up finish and 42 years from Bergan’s last state championship, the Class C-2 crown is coming back to Fremont.
On the back of five passing touchdowns from senior quarterback Koa McIntyre, the Knights throttled Norfolk Catholic 49-20 at Memorial Field Tuesday.
“Winning is hard, doing this is hard even when you are talented, there are plenty of talented teams that have come up short,” said Bergan coach Seth Mruz. “I am just proud of these kids for doing it after 42 years.”
Norfolk Catholic landed the opening blow in the title bout, forcing a fumble on a Gavin Logemann punt return.
Two plays later, the black-and-red Knights put the first points on the board with Karter Kerkman tip-toeing his way in from 16-yards out.
Bergan answered with a flurry of haymakers that sent Norfolk Catholic to the canvas.
On the first Bergan offensive play of the day, McIntyre hit senior Lucas Pruss in stride for an 80-yard strike to even the game at 7-7.
“We knew that was going to be a touchdown play,” McIntyre said “I just had to read that safety and had to get it there.”
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It was the first of two connections between McIntyre and Pruss, who finished with three receptions for a team-high 163 yards.
“The first one is always the most nerve wracking because you’re just getting used to the atmosphere,” Pruss said. “I saw it coming after I burnt my guy.”
Senior Jarett Boggs carried the offense on Bergan’s next drive, toting the rock five times for 31 yards on a 32-yard drive, ending in a five-yard touchdown run to put the green-and-gold Knights in front for good.
The senior tailback went for 131 yards on 17 carries.
Bergan’s knockout blow came on the ensuing kick-off as Julius Cortes pounced on a short kickoff by Alex Langenfield to hand Bergan an extra possession at Norfolk Catholic 10 yard line.
It took one play for the Knights to capitalize as Koa McIntyre lofted a pass into Kade McIntyre’s hands in the corner of the end zone.
Bergan tacked on its fourth touchdown of the opening frame with four seconds left on the clock on a 42-yard hook-up between the McIntyre brothers.
Kade McIntyre finished with four catches for 60 yards.
The Knights' ground game netted its final score of the first half. Cal Janke powered his way into the endzone from a yard out to balloon Bergan’s advantage to 35-7.
Norfolk Catholic added its final meaningful touchdown with 10 ticks left in the half on a 21-yard pass from Carter Janssen to Brennen Kelley, leaving Bergan’s halftime lead at 35-13.
After halftime, the Bergan defense pitched a practical shutout, only allowing a Norfolk Catholic score after the first-team defense took a curtain call with 31 seconds left.
Bergan held Norfolk Catholic to 238 yards of total offense—140 rushing, 98 passing.
The green-and-gold squad added two more scores to its tally with Logemann hauling in an eight-yard pass from McIntyre.
Pruss’ second score of the evening put the exclamation point on the victory. The senior got behind the Norfolk Catholic defense for an uncontested 54-yard score to widen the Knights’ lead to 49-13.
In Bergan’s five previous appearances in the state championship game, the Knights combined to score 41 points, being shut out twice.
Koa McIntyre, in his final game in a Bergan uniform, completed 9 of 11 passes for 259 yards and five scores.
“I know he gets a lot of credit for legs and everything else that he does, but his desire to be a better quarterback was what carried us over the top,” Mruz said. “Not settling on just being a runner, but to work at it that hard to be a pocket passer, have that touch, have that connection with all those guys out there.”
The magnitude of ending the 42 year long title drought was not lost on Mruz or any of the other members of the Bergan coaching staff, many of whom are alums of the program.
“The 2008 team, the 2010 team, the 2002 team that I was on when we went to the semis undefeated and just couldn’t ever get over the hump,” Mruz said. “We’ve been so close in the past and it’s insane how many great players and teams that we’ve had go through here that for whatever reason we just came up short.”
The title is a culmination of a two-year reign that featured just one loss in 26 games and a multitude of program records falling.
“Especially after last year, this class got to work and they weren’t going to take no for an answer and they took all they could,” Mruz said.
Bergan finishes the year 13-0, the winningest season in program history and just the fourth undefeated season.