Mitch Skurzewski file photo for Wausau Pilot & Review

Wausau Pilot & Review

STANLEY – The Wausau Newman Catholic football team is heading back to the 8-player state championship game after holding off Gilman 29-28 in a wild state semifinal Friday night at Stanley-Boyd High School.

Newman Catholic (12-0) will play Luck (11-1) in the WIAA 8-Player Football State Championship Game at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at South Wood County Stadium at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School in a rematch of the 2019 title game that Luck won 42-27. Luck beat Wabeno/Laona 40-36 on Friday at Medford.

Newman Catholic rolled out to a 22-0 lead by halftime, scoring twice in the final two minutes of the first half.

Conner Krach threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Eli Gustafson and the Cardinals added a two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead after their first drive of the game midway through the first quarter.

The score held until the Cardinals put together two scoring drives late in the first half.

Gustafson ran in from the 8 with 1:40 to go and after a punt, Krach hit Nathan Klement for a 40-yard touchdown with 30 seconds left as Newman Catholic led 22-0 at halftime.

Neither team scored in the third quarter before the Pirates (10-1) made a wild comeback attempt in the fourth.

Gilman quarterback Julian Krizan scored on a 1-yard sneak on the first play of the fourth quarter to get the Pirates on the scoreboard.

Newman immediately responded as Krach connected with Jacob Pffifner on a 75-yard bomb down the left sideline to push the Cardinals’ lead back to 29-8 with 11:19 left.

Gilman proved unstoppable the rest of the way, scoring immediately on a 45-yard run by Krizan. Another two-point conversion make it 29-16.

Krizan hit Bryson Keepers for a 30-yard touchdown with 5:44 left, but the Pirates missed on a two-point play, making it 29-22.

Newman Catholic, trying to run out the clock, fumbled and Gilman recovered at the Cardinals’ 40 with 4:54 to go.

Gilman methodically drove down and Krizan scored on a 1-yard run with 44 seconds left. Going for another two and the win, Krizan thew an incomplete pass under pressure and Newman Catholic was able to hold on.

Cardinals 29, Pirates 28
Newman Catholic   8   14   0   7   –   29
Gilman   0   0   0   28   –   28
First Quarter

N – Eli Gustafson 32 yards from Conner Krach, (Josh Klement pass from Krach), 7:34.
Second Quarter
N – Eli Gustafson 8 run (Matthew Hamilton kick), 1:40.
N – Nathan Klement 40 pass from Krach (Hamilton kick), 0:30.
Fourth Quarter
G – Julian Krizan 1 run (Krizan run), 11:58.
N – Jacob Pfiffner 75 pass from Krach (Hamilton kick), 11:19.
G – Krizan 45 run (Branden Ustianowski pass from Krizan), 10:34.
G – Bryson Keepers 30 pass from Krizan (pass failed), 5:44.
G – Krizan 1 run (pass failed), 0:44.