A subpar first half on defense — at least by its lofty standards — helped fire up Omaha Westside on Friday night against Elkhorn South.
So did a spirited halftime talk from coach Brett Froendt.
The sixth-ranked Warriors responded by rallying for a 35-21 homecoming win. Westside moved to 7-0 while the Storm fell to 4-3.
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The Warriors entered Friday night yielding six points per game, but Elkhorn South scored two first-half touchdowns to take a 14-10 halftime lead.
“They came out and smashed us in the mouth,” Froendt said. “We needed to make an attitude adjustment in the second half if we were going to win this game.”
Junior linebacker Grant Tagge agreed.
“They ran it down our throats,” he said. “We were fired up to get back out on the field.”
Jack Bush booted a 37-yard field goal on the Warriors’ first drive of the second half to make it 14-13. Westside’s defense then made its first big play of the half when Daniel Opperman blocked a punt, giving Westside the ball deep in Elkhorn South territory.
Two plays later, Avante Dickerson scored on a 14-yard run. Dickerson, who had a 60-yard scoring jaunt in the first quarter, finished with 161 yards on 22 carries.
After holding the Storm on their next possession, Westside got the ball at its own 18. On third-and-5 from its own 48, quarterback Cole Payton hit Dylan Packett with a 52-yard scoring strike.
The Warrior defense again forced the Storm to punt as Westside, which outscored Elkhorn South 18-0 in the third quarter, carried a 28-14 advantage into the fourth.
The lead grew in the final period when the Warriors blocked their second punt, this one resulting in a touchdown. Cade Haberman got the block and Nolan “Deuce” Miller-Johnston recovered in the end zone.
Elkhorn South scored a late touchdown on a 47-yard pass from Elliott Brown to Cole Skradis, but it wasn’t enough to spoil Westside’s homecoming night and the postgame fireworks.
“We knew that we needed to get more physical,” Froendt said. “They’re a very good football team, but our defense did a good job of shutting them down in the second half.”
The Storm finished with 289 yards in total offense against a team that had given up a total of two points the past two weeks. Senior running back Cooper Jewett ran for two first-half touchdowns and finished with 100 yards to pace Elkhorn South.
But Westside’s domination of the second half secured the Warriors’ seventh straight victory.
“This was a big win for us,” Froendt said. “I just liked the way our team responded to the challenge against a really tough team.”
Elkhorn South (4-3)................7 7 0 7—21
At Omaha Westside (7-0)......10 0 18 7—35
OW: FG 26 Jack Bush
ES: Cooper Jewett 6 run (Brian Cross kick)
OW: Avante Dickerson 60 run (Bush kick)
ES: Jewett 49 run (Cross kick)
OW: FG 37 Bush
OW: Dickerson 14 run (Trevor Barajas pass from Cole Payton)
OW: Dylan Packett 52 pass from Payton (Bush kick)
OW: Nolan Miller-Johnston fumble recovery in the end zone (Bush kick)
ES: Cole Skradis 47 pass from Elliott Brown (Cross kick)
Rushing: ES, Cooper Jewett 13-100, Eli Hustad 10-78, Elliott Brown 7-41, Drew Reetz 3-(minus-10), Jason Carlos 5-18, Guy Hunt 1-0, team 2-(minus-32). OW, Avante Dickerson 22-161, Will Hurtado 1-1, Cole Payton 11-22, Bodie Harrell 10-30, Joe Stegman 2-0, Grant Tagge 1-0.
Passing: ES, Brown 10-24-0 94. OW, Payton 14-23-1 141; Stegman 0-2-0 0.
Receiving: Cole Skradis 2-56, Guy Hunt 1-30, Hustad 2-3, Kobe Ballard 1-2, Carlos 2-(minus 1), Dylan Bay 1-4, Jewett 1-0. OW, Dylan Packett 6-104, Stegman 2-3, Dickerson 1-0, Brett Curran 3-20, Tagge 1-6, Koby Bretz 1-8.