Baptista, Manning lead Exeter-Milligan/Friend to semifinals

MILLIGAN, NE – After getting an early fight from Fullerton last Wednesday in Friend, the Exeter-Milligan/Friend Bobcats (11-0) imposed their will right from the get-go and never looked back.

Senior running back Edwin Baptista scored on a 48-yard touchdown run on the game’s first play from scrimmage. That started a rushing barrage from the No. 2 seed Bobcats, who rolled over the No. 3 seed Guardian Angels Central Catholic Bluejays, 46-12, on Tuesday night in Milligan in a Class D1 quarterfinal matchup.

Baptista had another impressive showing this postseason, finishing his night with 178 yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries.

Baptista has rushed for 688 yards and eight touchdowns this postseason alone. He has 1,644 rushing yards and 21 rushing scores on the entire season.

Senior fullback Mitchell Manning also had a solid night, finishing with 169 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries. The Bobcats rushed for a total of 351 yards on Tuesday.

Guardian Angels (9-2) had success rushing the ball themselves, ending up with 231 rushing yards as a team. GACC was without senior and star running back Jared Minnick, however. He hurt his leg in the first half against Howells Dodge last week, and missed the entire second half of last week’s 40-34 win. Minnick was seen on crutches during warmups.

Minnick had 1,782 rushing yards and 28 rushing TDs coming into Tuesday’s game.

The Bluejays had three different players who carried the ball 15 or more times in Minnick’s absence. Sophomore quarterback Cody Steffen finished with 15 carries, 78 yards and a touchdown. Through the air, he was just 4-of-16 for 28 yards.

Junior running back Noah Hass tallied 17 carries for 63 yards and a TD. Sophomore Cash Meier was close behind, totaling 16 carries and 80 yards.

GACC finished just 4-of-12 on third down, and 0-of-4 on fourth down tries. The Bluejays also had nine penalties for 79 yards.

EMF led the game 18-0 at halftime, and 26-0 early in the third, but Steffen and Hass each scored in the 3rd quarter to put the Bluejays on the board.

Late in the third, the Bluejays had the ball, down 34-12 at the EMF 25-yard line. A touchdown would have cut the lead to two possessions, but GACC failed to convert on a 4th and 11 from the Bobcat 25. EMF scored on its ensuing possession to go up 40-12.

EMF has now reached the semifinal round, and will face the No. 1 seed Creighton Bulldogs (11-0) on the road Monday at a time to be announced.

The Bulldogs blew out No. 5 seed Lutheran High Northeast on Tuesday, 76-28.

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.

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