For Cardinal Gibbons, Friday night was the wrong night to be visitors in Hoggard’s Scott Braswell Stadium. The host Vikings summoned their program’s greatest achievement as inspiration for duplication.
The Crusaders never got in rhythm offensively and saw Hoggard score 34 straight points in a 41-20 season-ending loss. Hoggard (14-1), which won the 2007 N.C. 4A state championship under stadium namesake Braswell, will return to its first state final since then next Saturday against Weddington.
Cardinal Gibbons coach Steven Wright spoke often this season about the Crusaders’ plight being determined by turnovers. Hoggard corralled two interceptions in the first half, after which the Vikings led 31-7.
Cardinal Gibbons (12-3) knotted the first-quarter score at 7 on Gannon Jones’ 19-yard touchdown pass to Chet Yardley. Yardley caught at least one pass in each of the Crusaders’ 15 games this fall and surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the season.
Cardinal Gibbons’ three touchdowns were matched by Hoggard’s Tamear Webb, himself. Webb, who had two first-half touchdowns, notched the Vikings’ last end zone run midway through the third quarter.
Crusaders quarterback Whitt Newbauer, who missed much of his senior season with an injury, concluded his career with two second-half touchdowns. Newbauer’s third-quarter 22-yard scoring strike to Aiden Smalls preceded a fourth-quarter 10-yard pass-and-catch with Yardley for six more points.
Friday’s outcome marked the largest scoring differential in a Cardinal Gibbons state playoff setback since 2017, when visiting Heritage won its second-round game, 34-6, over the Crusaders.
Along with signal callers Jones and Newbauer, and wide receiver Yardley, Smalls, and Nic Leonard also surpassed 1,000 all-purpose yards (receiving and rushing) for the season.
Cardinal Gibbons’ seniors concluded a four-year run during which the program averaged 11 on-field wins per season, including a pandemic condensed 10-game season in the spring of 2021.