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POPLAR GROVE — Immaculate Conception senior quarterback Demetrius Carr was clearly ticked off after he was picked off and North Boone tied up their Class 3A football playoff opener Saturday afternoon.
But the Knights and Carr quickly picked themselves back up as they scored 17 unanswered points in a two-minute span and pulled away to a wild 59-34 victory that featured a combined 987 yards of total offense and 230 yards in penalties.
"We went through a lot of ups and downs this year and one play doesn't cost you a football game," Carr said of the 56-yard return by Jon Lilly, which tied the game at 28-28. "We knew we could come back and drive and score and our defense would get us back together. Everybody on the sideline said, 'Pick your head up, everything is OK.'"
It definitely was for the 12th-seeded Knights (7-3) with the ball in Carr's hands as he threw 3 touchdowns totaling 173 yards to Tim Hipskind and rushed for 190 yards and two scores. They will be at home in next weekend's second round with a chance to avenge a 47-20 loss in Week 7 to defending 3A champion and No. 4 Aurora Christian (9-1), which routed Raby 49-12 Friday.
"For a 17- or 18-year-old kid to throw a pick and respond the way he did," said IC coach Bill Krefft, "and take over the game mentally and physically — he's an outstanding football player and outstanding young man."
IC came out after the interception and drove from its 37 to set up a 32-yard field goal by Adam Muellers with 3:31 left in the third. Four plays later, with more man-to-man defense mixed in against fifth-seeded North Boone (8-2) quarterback Austin Baden, senior Dakota Baker made a leaping, juggling interception of a deep sideline pass.
Two plays later, Carr was flushed right and found Hipskind behind the defense for an 86-yard touchdown. Hipskind also caught a 27-yarder and made a leaping grab for a 60-yard score 18 seconds before halftime.
"There's a great connection between me and Tim and it started last year when I came over (from St. Joseph)," Carr said.
Sam Antes' interception set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Danny D'Angelo for a 45-28 lead with 1:31 left in the third. Baden scored on a 32-yard run just 32 seconds later, but IC finished it with touchdown runs of 7 yards by Randy Leslie and 77 yards by Carr.
Joey Iavarone opened the scoring on a 1-yard run as Sean Fenton, Daniel Michel, Adalberto Suarez, Josh Broschinsky and Diego Herrera led the way to 547 total yards and IC's highest point total in a playoff game in its history.
"The resilience of our kids is at a level now that I'm very happy and proud of how they respond to adversity," Krefft said of a team that fell to 4-3 after consecutive losses to powerhouses Marian Central, Montini and Aurora Christian. "We had a couple of big games where you have to learn how to get off the ropes to win big games and I'm very proud of them."