The fourth quarter of Friday’s football game between Omaha Skutt and Ralston featured seven penalties, two turnovers, a 68-yard punt and nearly a third of the total offense for both teams.
And precisely zero points.
The Class B No. 3 SkyHawks (8-0) clung to their 27-22 victory — sealed with a Zach Zeplin interception in the Ram end zone to kill a deep Ralston drive — with, according to Skutt coach Matt Turman, their last ounce of poise.
“Seems like whenever we get together with these guys, crazy things happen,” Turman said. “I don’t know what it is. It was a wild one. But I think we kind of expect it. Turned out to be a great football game.”
The fourth quarter wasn’t the only madcap part of the night.
Skutt spotted Ralston a 9-0 lead halfway through the first quarter starting with a botched snap, complicated by an illegal touching penalty on Skutt punter Tyler Weis for booting the ball through the back of the end zone and resulting in a safety. The Rams’ Andy Chleborad then took the ensuing Skutt free kick 67 yards for a touchdown return.
Still in quarter one, Skutt answered with a 69-yard TD drive on its next series, capped by an Austin Hauptman 36-yard run, but Ralston built its lead to 16-7 with a 54-yard strike from Josh Krzemien to Jake Goltl.
But then the SkyHawks looked to quarterback Creighton Koley for a return to equilibrium.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter, Koley hit wideout Jake Sievers for a 50-yard touchdown to bring the SkyHawks within three at 16-13.
Four plays later, as the Rams faced a third-and-3 from their own 38, Koley ran into Krzemien, wrenched the ball loose and was off on a 54-yard fumble return to give Skutt a 20-16 advantage.
“My coach just told me to go get the ball,” Koley said. “So I did. I ran up against him, and the reflexes kicked in.”
Ralston refused to go quietly, however, coming back from halftime to take advantage of a muffed opening kickoff and drive 26 yards to the Skutt 1, picking up two fourth-and-short plays, including one from the Skutt half-yard line as Krzemien bulled his way in to give the Rams a 22-20 advantage.
Skutt closed out the scoring with one second remaining in the third as Koley found Zeplin for a 27-yard strike to put the SkyHawks up 27-22. Koley finished 2 of 3 passing for 77 yards and two TDs.
Zeplin would end the game in the same end zone with 43 seconds left in the fourth.
“Relief,” said Turman afterward, looking to the spot where Zeplin made the play. “Complete and total relief. The kids showed they had what it takes to win in a tough situation, and we showed we can win, even not playing our best.”
For Ralston (5-3), it was the third straight week when turnovers swung momentum, after costly interceptions returned for scores turned the tide for Beatrice two weeks ago and Omaha Gross last week.
“Those are game-killers,” Ram coach Tyler Zahn said. “In a wild, emotional game like that, you just can’t afford it. We’ve got to get focused on making the plays when they count.”
Omaha Skutt (8-0)............................7 13 7 0—27
At Ralston (5-3).............................16 0 6 0—22
R: Safety, punt out of end zone
R: Andy Chleborad 67 free kick return (Jacob Quint kick)
OS: Austin Hauptman 36 run (Jake Sievers kick)
R: Jake Goltl 54 pass from Josh Krzemien (Quint kick)
OS: Sievers 50 pass from Creighton Koley (kick failed)
OS: Koley 54 fumble return (Sievers kick)
R: Krzemien 1 run (kick blocked)
OS: Zach Zeplin 27 pass from Koley (Sievers kick)