BEATRICE, Neb. — Norris wanted to play ball control Friday night.
Beatrice said fine.
Norris scored on only the first of its five possessions for the entire game, while Beatrice finished off two of five drives with touchdowns for a 12-7 victory in the district opener for both teams.
The Orangemen, top-ranked in Class B, stayed undefeated through seven games before an estimated crowd of 1,500 at the new House of Orange stadium on their campus. No. 8 Norris fell to 5-2.
“This was two teams wanting to exert their will running the ball,” Beatrice coach Bob Sexton said.
Beatrice ran for 221 yards, Norris for 234. While Zach Decker was 6 of 7 for 81 yards passing for the Orangemen, the Titans' Jakson Reetz went 2 for 4.
Norris senior James Kruger, Class B's first 1,000-yard rusher of the season, ran for 169 yards on 27 carries. Beatrice held him to a long gain of 24 yards and no touchdowns.
The Orangemen lost a pair of scoring opportunities on fumbles. Terrill Murray of Norris covered a Decker fumble at the Titan 24 on the game's opening possession. In the fourth quarter, Brady Johnson knocked the ball from Dakota VanLaningham and Trey Hair recovered the fumble at the Titan 6.
“We killed ourselves twice,” Decker said. “It shouldn't have been the deal that it was at the end.”
VanLaningham ran for 145 yards before missing most of the final quarter with a sore left knee. Sexton said he thought VanLaningham would be all right to play next week.
Reetz's first pass of the night was good for an 11-yard touchdown to Nolan Gloe. It ended a 76-yard initial drive that took nearly seven minutes and gave the Titans a 7-0 lead.
Beatrice came back with a 10-play, 80-yard drive that VanLaningham capped with an 8-yard run. Norris kept the lead at 7-6 as AJ Flodman blocked Decker's extra-point kick.
Norris then had the ball for all but the final play of the first half from 9:13 of the second quarter to 7:29 of the third quarter — and didn't score.
Reetz overthrew Riley Kentfield in the end zone on a fourth-and-1 pass from the Beatrice 7 with 37 seconds left in the half. The Titans got to the Orangemen 5 with the opening possession of the second half before stalling.
Dylan Behrends then blocked Ryan Bellinghausen's 22-yard field goal.
“We figured we left 10 or 14 points out there, too,” Norris coach Jim Jacobsen said. “On the field goal, we have such a good kicker that we thought we'd go for the points on fourth-and-5 but they shot a guy through and we didn't pick him up.”
Beatrice took over at its 15 and went 85 yards in 11 plays, with Decker scoring on a 7-yard keeper to end the scoring with 3:19 left in the third quarter.
The final two possessions for the Titans were the game's only three-and-out — the only punt by either team — and a fourth-down fumble that Beatrice's Chance Baumann recovered at the Titans' 35 with 3:04 left.
“They were pushing us around,” Sexton said. “The big thing wasn't any adjustment at halftime. We just had to play with a lower pad level.”
Norris (5-2)..................7 0 0 0—7
At Beatrice (7-0)..................0 6 6 0—12
N: Nolan Gloe 11 pass from Jakson Reetz (Ryan Bellinghausen kick)
B: Dakota VanLaningham 8 run (kick blocked)
B: Zach Decker 7 run (PAT failed)
A: 1,500 (est.)
RUSHING: N, James Kruger 27-169, Reetz 15-56, Nick Davis 3-9. B, VanLaningham 23-145, Jessup Workman 13-61, Decker 4-15, Chance Baumann 3-3, team 2-minus 3.
PASSING: N, Reetz 2-4-0 23, B, Decker 6-7-0 81.
RECEIVING: N, Gloe 1-11, Kruger 1-12. B, Matt Fujan 3-45, Tanner Dewey 2-26, Chance Baumann 1-10.
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