It was a showdown between two senior quarterbacks who desperately wanted to keep their seasons alive.
In the end, Sabastian Harsh and his Scottsbluff teammates did just enough to put away Jack Dotzler and Omaha Roncalli.
Harsh ran for five touchdowns and threw for three more Friday night as the visiting Bearcats posted a 63-56 win that lifted them into the Class B championship game for the second straight year in quest of the school’s first title.
Dotzler had a huge game, throwing for six touchdowns and running for another. But in the end, it wasn’t quite enough as Roncalli saw its season end at 9-3.
“I thought it was going to be a game like this,” said Scottsbluff coach Jud Hall, whose team, like last year, will play Omaha Skutt in the final. “They have a phenomenal team and I’m just so happy we were able to hang on.”
The game was a rematch from last year’s playoffs, where Roncalli led 35-14 until Dotzler broke his arm. The host Bearcats roared back to win 60-38.
Dotzler stayed healthy this time, throwing for an 11-man playoff record 453 yards. He set the tone by tossing a 57-yard touchdown pass to Shane Orr less than a minute into the game.
“He is one of the most competitive kids I’ve ever seen,” Hall said. “He keeps every play alive and he can hurt you running or passing.”
The same could be said of Harsh, who rushed for 343 yards — 263 in the second half — and threw for 254. He carried 47 times and used his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame to great advantage as the Bearcats (12-0) built their lead in the second half.
“I don’t want to say that I was getting tired,” Harsh said. “The crowd was being loud and that pumped me up.”
It was 36-33 at halftime. Scottsbluff’s score could have gone higher but a pair of touchdown passes were negated by penalties.
The Bearcats took control by scoring the first three touchdowns of the second half. Harsh scored on runs of 3 and 48 yards and Jasiya DeOllos blocked a punt and fell on the ball in the end zone.
That put the Bearcats up 57-33 and the Crimson Pride were unable to reclaim the lead. Roncalli got within a touchdown twice, scoring for the final time with 2:13 left on Dotzler’s sixth touchdown pass.
On the next possession, Scottbluff went for it on fourth-and-2 at midfield. When Roncalli jumped offside, the Bearcats’ win was assured.
Harsh had one final moment of drama, busting through the line while apparently heading for his sixth rushing TD. But after racing 48 yards, he intentionally fell at the 1-yard line to make sure Roncalli didn’t get the ball back.
“I wanted that one so bad,” he said. “But as I was running, I thought I’d better get down.”
Dotzler said he was hoping for that one late defensive stop that would have turned the ball over to the Crimson Pride.
“I felt if we just had one more chance,” he said. “It was an incredible game.”
Dotzler also had kind words for the opposing quarterback.
“Sabastian is insane,” Dotzler said. “He’s strong and fast and I definitely have a mutual respect for him.”
Brothers Shane and Jake Orr caught four of Dotzler’s touchdown passes while Ryan Fenoglio had the other two. Fenoglio caught the longest one, a 98-yarder late in the first quarter.
“I told our guys how proud I was of them,” Roncalli coach Tom Kassing said. “Our kids kept fighting, and I never doubted that they would.”
Scottsbluff (12-0)................7 29 21 6—63
At Omaha Roncalli (9-3)....14 19 8 15—56
OR: Shane Orr 57 pass from Jack Dotzler (Austin Schwarz kick)
S: Caleb Walker 54 pass from Sabastian Harsh (Walker kick)
OR: Ryan Fenoglio 98 pass from Dotzler (Schwarz kick)
S: Harsh 8 run (kick failed)
S: Harsh 6 run (Harsh run)
OR: Jake Orr 24 pass from Dotzler (kick failed)
OR: Jake Orr 29 pass from Dotzler (Schwarz kick)
S: Jasiya DeOllos 28 pass from Harsh (Walker kick)
OR: Dotzler 8 run (pass failed)
S: DeOllos 9 pass from Harsh (Harsh run)
S: Harsh 48 run (kick blocked)
S: Harsh 3 run (Harsh run)
S: Blocked punt recovered in end zone (Walker kick)
OR: T.J. Hamilton 1 run (Dotzler run)
OR: Fenoglio 21 pass from Dotzler (Hamilton pass from Dotzler)
S: Harsh 1 run (kick failed)
OR: Shane Orr 19 pass from Dotzler (Schwarz kick)
Rushing: S, Sabastian Harsh 47-343, Jasiya DeOllos 10-30, Caleb Walker 1-2. OR, T.J. Hamilton 5-33, Jack Dotzler 12-53, Darik Rodgers 4-28.
Passing: S, Harsh 8-13-1 254. OR, Dotzler 20-44-1 453.
Receiving: S, Walker 1-54, Brett Hill 1-26, Jack Darnell 3-81, DeOllos 3-93. OR, Hamilton 4-22, Shane Orr 5-116, Ryan Fenoglio 5-165, Rodgers 1-16, Jake Orr 5-90.