YORK, Neb. — York had its troubles moving the ball against Scottsbluff.
The exception was three long plays that accounted for three of the Dukes' four scores in a 26-13 win at East Hill Field Friday night.
York rolled up 292 yards of total offense, but 143 of those yards came courtesy of two long runs by senior back Evan Neville and a halfback option touchdown pass from Hayden Robb to Ty Danielson. The latter gave the Dukes a 20-13 lead with 7:52 to play in the game and proved to be the winner.
York would add a Neville 46-yard run to seal the victory, but the Dukes knew they had been in a dogfight.
The Bearcat defense held Neville to 30 yards on 14 carries, however he had two others that accounted for scoring runs of 50 and 46 yards. Added together it gave him 126 yards on 16 carries.
The Dukes put the first points on the board in the first quarter on their second possession of the game.
On a first-and-10 at the midfield stripe, Neville took the handoff from quarterback Linden Kaliff and sprinted 50 yards for the first TD. The PAT kick was no good leaving the score 6-0.
York caught a break on the kickoff as Scottsbluff return man Ray Cerda mishandled the short kick and York senior Jon Fletcher recovered the loose ball at the Scottsbluff 24.
Three plays later, after the first two plays netted just two yards, Kaliff set up the screen perfectly and Hayden Robb carried the ball 22 yards to the end zone for the touchdown.
The PAT failed and the score stood 12-0.
At this point the Bearcats took over.
Scottsbluff used the running game to move the ball deep into York territory, but a third-and-8 pass fell incomplete.
Bearcat Jackson Hinze booted a 39-yard field goal to put the visitors on the board at 12-3 with under two minutes to play in the first quarter.
Scottsbluff's defense then cracked down as York was held scoreless until the fourth quarter. Meanwhile the Bearcat offense was starting to get its rhythm against the Dukes' defense.
The Bearcats cut the York lead to 12-10 on a 4-yard scoring pass from Hinze to Rueben Flores at the 6:19 mark and with 2:29 to play in the first half Hinze booted his second field goal, this time from 25 yards out to make it 13-12.
In the third quarter the York defense made a huge stop after the offense went three and out to start the second half.
Scottsbluff used almost seven minutes of the clock pushing the ball from its own 24-yard-line to the York 25, before Hinze's 42-yard field goal attempt was short.
The Dukes started their game winning drive as Robb picked up 6, Kaliff hit Ryan Dolan for 5 and Robb skirted the left side for 10 yards.
On first-and-10 from the Scottsbluff 47 the pitch went to Robb. He did a good job selling the run, then pulled back and hit Danielson in full stride for the score.
Scottsbluff could not move the ball against the York defense which was now playing with the lead, pinning its ears back and coming after quarterback Hinze.
On the Marty Winters KAWL post-game show, York head coach Glen Snodgrass praised the Scottsbluff team's effort and also his own defense.
“Our defense did a great job,” said Snodgrass. “Coach Kern (Matt), Crawford (Jordan) and Mattox (Chad) always do a great job with the defense and in the second half we changed up some things up front and that seem to really help out. There are no guarantees in the playoffs and I don't think we took them too lightly. They are just a very good football team. They probably should have beaten Aurora and McCook and they could easily have been 8-1.”
Snodgrass added that he really is proud of the work his guys have done and it's no fluke they have gotten to where they are.
“They have earned the right to be here. What they have accomplished doesn't come easy and it doesn't come free,” Snodgrass stated. “Tonight we played a very good team and while the offense didn't play as well as they have been and they made some uncharacteristic mistakes, the defense played hard and we got done what we needed to.”
Unofficially the Bearcats had 224 yards of total offense, but just 55 in the second half. Scottsbluff rushed for 149 on 45 carries and was 6-13 passing for 75 yards. The ground game was led by Tristan Donelson with 11 carries for 61 yards, while Ty Benson was 13 for 47.
York finished with 292 yards. The Dukes were 24-150 on the ground and Kaliff was 9-23 for 142 yards passing. Other than Neville, Robb had five carries for 29 yards, while Danielson hauled in two receptions for 70 yards and one score.
York (9-1) will host Ralston next Friday night at East Hill Field. The Rams were leading 27-0 in the second half, but a final was not available at press time.
Snodgrass said Ralston is big and a lot like Beatrice.
“They are very big and physical and very much like Beatrice,” Snodgrass said. “Our guys are not going to back down to anyone, they are going to step up and play physical and do what it takes. We are a much better and (more) physical team than we were when we played Beatrice.”
Later this week the NSAA will announce what time kickoff will be next Friday.