CREIGHTON — As the first half winded down, it appeared No. 12-seeded Creighton would be halfway to a second straight upset victory in the Class D1 playoffs.
But fourth-seeded Osceola/High Plains scored a touchdown with 1 second left in the first half, starting a 40-8 scoring run that allowed the visiting StormDogs to end the season for the defending state champion Bulldogs 46-32 at Bill Harder Field.
The second-year co-op will host top-seeded Howells-Dodge on Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
“Our kids took lumps and got a lower seed, but we knew we had potential. We knew we had some talent,” Creighton coach Zac Kliment said. “We just had to work hard and see how far it took us. We knew we were going to have a tough road with all of these teams. We were going to have to earn it no matter what.”
The late score swung the momentum for the third quarter.
“In the second half, we made some changes, and we cleaned up the mental part of it, and we were able to move the ball and do a lot better job,” Osceola/High Plains coach Greg Wood said.
Osceola/High Plains scored on four straight possessions of the second half, starting when it recovered a fumble three plays into the second half, and cashed it in for two plays later for a score. Thad Hazen did stretch the lead back on a 46-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 play with 8:03 left in the third quarter, and Caden Wortman's two-point conversion made it a 10-point game.
But from there, Osceola/High Plains held Creighton to just 35 yards of offense in the game's final 20 minutes. In particular, the StormDogs shut down preseason Super Six athlete Brayden Zimmerer — who ran seven times for 152 yards in the first half — to minus-1 rushing yards and 0 for 3 passing in the second half.
That paved the way for Keaton Van Housen and company. The senior running back finished with 255 yards on 33 carries, including second-half touchdown runs of 9, 26 and 5 yards in the second half. As a team, the StormDogs rushed for 349 yards.
“He's a good, hard runner,” Kliment said. “He runs with low pads, and his line gets up to the linebackers. When he hits holes, and it's five yards before you get a hand on him, you're in trouble.”
The spark for the second-half ground onslaught came through the air, however. With time running, quarterback Dylan Soule scrambled away from pressure and threw a pass to the back shoulder of Van Housen, who turned it into a 27-yard touchdown with 1.0 seconds showing on the clock.
“Up until that point, the biggest thing for us was the mental mistakes we were making,” Wood said. “We were moving the ball, we were doing good things, and then we'd get a holding call, or a false start, or a block in the back, or something else.”
In the first half, the story was Creighton and its quick-strike offense, starting with a 58-yard scoring play from Zimmerer to Hazen. Zimmerer then added scoring runs of 28 and 63 yards in the first half, the latter giving his team a 24-6 lead with 3:46 until halftime.
“We had our power game. It was pretty successful early,” Kliment said. “They were getting up to the linebackers, and they made an adjustment in the second half. They slid down, and we couldn't really come off of them.”
Osceola/HP (8-2) 6 8 16 16 — 46
Creighton (6-4) 16 8 8 0 — 32
CRE: Thad Hazen 58 pass from Brayden Zimmerer (Caden Wortman run), 5:52.
OHP: Dylan Soule 2 run (PAT failed), 5:23.
CRE: Hazen 28 run (Wortman run), 3:49.
CRE: Zimmerer 63 run (Wortman run), 3:46.
OHP: Keaton Van Housen 27 pass from Soule (Van Housen run), 0:01.
OHP: Van Housen 9 run (Van Housen run), 10:07.
CRE: Hazen 46 run (Wortman run), 8:03.
OHP: Van Housen 26 run (Soule run), 3:41.
OHP: Soule 1 run (Van Housen run), 9:01.
OHP: Van Housen 5 run (Van Housen run), 3:33.