Kowalski, T-Birds rout Titans, make statement

NO. 3 BELLEVUE WEST 49, NO. 5 PAPIO SOUTH 12

Third-ranked Bellevue West made a strong case Friday night to climb higher — perhaps two spots higher — in the ratings.

The Thunderbirds defeated fifth-ranked Papillion-La Vista South 49-12 in front of an estimated 4,000 fans at Bellevue West. Coach Mike Huffman's squad led 35-0 at halftime and 49-0 early in the fourth quarter before the Titans got a pair of late scores.

But Huffman was deflecting any No. 1 talk after the game.

"I don't think we can say that yet," he said. "We've had a great first two weeks, but let's see how things play out over the next three weeks or so."

Senior Jadyn Kowalski led the way, throwing for 283 yards and four touchdowns. He completed 16 of 22 passes before leaving the game at the end of the third quarter.

"The thing I like most about Jadyn is his decision-making," Huffman said. "He's a very heady player."

Kowalski wanted to share credit with the defense, which kept Papio South bottled up most of the game.

"I thought they turned in a great performance," he said. "I was really impressed by the way our defense played tonight."

Penalties helped stymie the Thunderbirds early as they led 7-0 after the first quarter. That score came on a 3-yard pass from Kowalski to Cade Johnson and would be followed by four more touchdowns in the second quarter.

A 13-yard TD pass to Jaylin Bradley was followed by a 2-yard Bradley scoring run. Kowalski then went over from the 2, followed shortly after by a 34-yard TD toss from Kowalski to Johnson.

That 35-point lead initiated the running clock in the second half, but Bellevue West still managed to tack on another score in the third quarter on a 64-yard pass from Kowalski to Johnson. Kowalski gave way to freshman Evan Kieser, who made it 49-0 on a 12-yard scoring pass to Keith Howell.

The Titans got a pair of late touchdowns from Finest Hampton to break the shutout. The first came on an 88-yard kickoff return and the second on a 27-yard run.

"That's two weeks in a row we've given up late touchdowns like that," Huffman said. "But overall, this was a good outing for us."

Despite his glossy numbers, Kowalski said he wasn't satisfied with his performance.

"I could have played better," he said. "I think we've all got things that we can work on to improve."

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