Papillion-La Vista South fell behind by 28 points before scoring 14-straight in the fourth quarter to have a chance at a comeback in a 42-21 loss against Millard South at Buell Stadium Friday.
“Our kids played hard til the end. Our mentality was going to be, ‘To unload everything we had’ against these guys — scheme wise — and we did that,” Papillion-La Vista South head coach Tim Clemenger said. “We just came up short.”
The No. 14 seeded Titans season ends with a 5-5 record, but returned to the playoffs in 2019 after making the playoffs six of seven times from 2011-2017.
The third-seeded Patriots opened the game with a scoring drive that was capped off by a 31-yard rushing touchdown by running back Isaiah Harris with 10:05 left in the first quarter. After a Papio South punt, Harris jumped out to 50-plus run that would’ve been a touchdown, but an unnecessary roughness call on MS negated most of the yardage on the play.
Momentum started to shift after Papio South forced the drive to end in a punt. The Titans took advantage and tied the game at 7-all on a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Connor Crandall to wide receiver Jackson Horn with 7:49 left in the first quarter.
A few unfortunate plays late in the second quarter shifted all the momentum back to the Patriots. On third down inside the Titan 20 for Millard South, the Titan defense had Millard South quarterback TJ Urban sacked in the backfield, but somehow broke free and found an open receiver in the corner of the endzone for a 14-7 lead with 5:36 left in the half.
Less than 50 seconds later, on the ensuing possession, Crandall’s pass over the middle was intercepted for a 29-yard touchdown for Millard South to lead 21-7.
Urban added another score for the Patriots with 18 seconds left in the half for a 28-7 lead at halftime.
Halfway through the third quarter, Crandall was intercepted inside the Millard South redzone. After a penalty on the return moved Millard South back to its 10-yard line, Harris broke free for a 90-yard touchdown, two plays later, to lead 35-7 with 7:18 left.
The Titans started to crawl back into the game to start the fourth quarter. On fourth down inside the Millard South 10-yard line, Crandall found Horn for a 6-yard touchdown just five seconds into the final quarter for a 35-14 score. Then with 7:40 left in the game, Crandall found Horn, for the third time, for a 38-yard touchdown to trail by only 14 points.
The Titan defense forced a three-and-out, on the ensuing possession, for a chance to bring the deficit to within one score. Instead the Titan offense punted on a fourth-and-8 at their own 34-yard line.
Millard South took advantage for a 62-yard touchdown by Harris to lead 42-21.
Crandall threw an interception, on the next possession, and the Patriots ran out the clock to end the contest.
“We will think about those (miscues in the second quarter) all offseason, but when you play good teams like this, the margin for error is very small. We have to capitalize on those plays,” Clemenger said. “The scoreboard didn’t end up looking like it, but, seriously, if you were at this game, you’d know that a couple plays here and there it could’ve been different.
“I mean, with four minutes and 30 seconds left, it was a two-score game despite all those things, so it was frustrating a little bit.
Crandall completed 24-of-39 for 184 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions while Horn caught all-three touchdowns and tight end Will Swanson caught seven passes for 49 yards.
While the recipe for the Titans was rushing the ball during the season, Papio South knew they would need to move the chains through the air against the Patriot defense. For the most part, it was successful.
“We tried to take advantage of what they were giving us and we got going on the pass game a little,” Clemenger said. “Credit to our kids and our offensive coaches for making good decisions.”