Beatrice won the statistical battle against Elkhorn Friday night, but the Antlers made just enough big plays to escape the House of Orange with a win.
Class B No. 6 Elkhorn knocked off No. 5 Beatrice 38-21. The Orangemen outgained Elkhorn by 124 yards and ran 37 more plays, but a kickoff return and an interception return allowed them to have a half time lead.
Elkhorn’s offense made enough plays in the second half to give them the win.
“At times, we looked like a really good football team,” said Beatrice coach Kevin Meyer. “To be honest, this is the most proud I’ve been of our effort all year. This was a different beast we were playing tonight and there were times we owned them, but we have to get more depth so we can get kids a rest. We need a few kids to step up. These kids are giving their all, but you can only do that so long.”
Elkhorn got the ball first and was able to score on their opening drive. ON their sixth play from scrimmage, Aiden Young got loose for a 31 yard touchdown run, making it 7-0 early.
The Orangemen came back with a 10-play, 69 yard scoring drive that was capped by Cam Jurgens’ seven yard touchdown run. Jurgens also had a run of 16 yards on the drive while Colton Kelle had runs of 10 yard and 11 yards.
The Beatrice defense forced a three-and-out on the next drive and they took over at their own 42. They were able to put another 10 play drive together. Every play was a run until Trevor Schmale found Jurgens for a seven yard touchdown pass, giving the Orangemen a 14-7 lead.
Elkhorn answered immediately when they returned the ensuing kickoff all the way for a touchdown, tying the game 14-14.
The two teams traded punts and on Beatrice’s next drive, they took over at their own 40 yard line and drove it deep into Elkhorn territory. But on a fourth down play, the Antlers came up with an interception and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown, giving them a 21-14 lead.
The Orangemen had one last possession in the first half, but the drive went nowhere. With 10 seconds left, Beatrice lined up in punt formation and a botched punt play gave Elkhorn the ball back with two seconds left. The Antlers connected for a 39-yard field goal to take a 24-14 lead into the locker room.
“That punt play was on me,” Meyer said. “We should have just kicked it regularly. We thought we could maybe run the clock out by running off the edge and running it with Cam (Jurgens) for maybe a first down. So I’ll take responsibility for that
Beatrice would put a scoring drive together on their first possession of the second half. They started at their own 20 and on the third play, Mahoney caught a pass and weaved his way 80 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back to the 50 yard line due to a hold.
Eight rushing plays later, Jurgens was able to score his third touchdown on a three-yard run, cutting the deficit to 24-21.
Elkhorn went three-and-out on their next drive. Beatrice drove into Elkhorn territory, but were turned away on a fourth and short play, giving the ball back to Ellkhorn.
Both teams went three-and out on their next drive. Elkhorn finally got its offense going on their next drive, though. Starting at their own 10, Young was able to break free for a 57 yard run. A personal foul late hit penalty tacked on 15 more yards at the end of the run.
A couple plays later, Young scored from four yards out, extending Elkhorn’s lead to 31-21 with less than seven minutes remaining in the game.
Beatrice’s offense stalled on their next possession and the Elkhorn was able to tack on a touchdown late, extending their lead to 38-21, which would be the final score.
Beatrice ran 69 plays for 313 yards while Elkhorn ran 32 plays for 189 yards.
Kelle ran the ball 25 times of 138 yards while Jurgens ran it 15 times for 64 yards.
Meyer said Kelle had to step up since Jason Stevens was still hobbled with an injury.
“He came in and ran it effectively,” he said. “We had some nice holes and had some things going. We have two or three guys running it, but we were just unable to capitalize on a few opportunities.”
Andrew Mahoney ran it eight times for 29 yards. Schmale ran six times for 16 yards and was 5 for 10 passing for 54 yards. He also had two interceptions.
Mahoney had three catches for 36 yards and Jurgens had two catches for 18 yards.
Meyer said Elkhorn did a great job capitalizing on Beatrice’s mistakes.
“They scored 17 points on an interception and a kick return and our mistake on that fourth down,” Meyer said. “I mean, you have to give Elkhorn credit, but I think we have a pretty good football team.”