CREIGHTON — Atkinson West Holt outlasted Creighton by the thinnest of margins, 33-32, on the way to improving to 5-2 on the season here at Bill Harder Memorial Field.
It took about 45 minutes of action and a bunch of great plays to push the Huskies over the hump against the Bulldogs as the teams went back and forth all evening long. The two teams battled to the delight of both sets of fans, but the stubborn Bulldogs would not relinquish until 3 yards made the difference.
Sam Vortherms ran for a touchdown with 28.8 seconds remaining in the contest to push Creighton to within the final score, but the West Holt defense finished the game.
With the Bulldogs in the Wildcat formation for the two-point try, Clay Curtis took the direct snap, then went to his left for the Bulldogs. But Tyler Larby and Ben Slaymaker were waiting for him for West Holt.
“My job was to stay outside and turn it back,” Larby said. “I trusted our guys would take care of it from there.”
And that’s exactly what they did.
“Once he turned him back, I knew I had him,” Slaymaker said. “It was the perfect team play and we ended up with the win — it was great.”
The Bulldogs, who were missing some players, showed the heart of a champion, which they were last season.
“We have some injuries this year, which is the way football works,” Creighton coach Zac Kliment said. “We have been stressing and going with the ‘next man up’ theory. We fell just short tonight.”
Although Creighton had injuries, Kliment wanted to point out West Holt won the game.
“We made some mistakes and so did they,” Kliment said. “At the end of the day, they made a play when we didn’t.”
“I’ve been coaching here for 10 years,” West Holt coach Steve Neptune said. “This is the first time we have beaten them.”
Even though it was the first time for the Huskies’ coach to defeat the Bulldogs, Neptune was happy with the way his team played while making a statement within the district. West Holt lost its opening two games of the season to Burwell 48-21 and Neligh-Oakdale 56-12 before catching fire over the past five games.
“We’re really coming around,” Neptune said. “We have some young kids stepping up and enough kids back to really get some things going.”
The Huskies made a mistake to set up the fireworks at the end of the game.
West Holt was flagged for a pass interference call with under a minute left in the game, but then Vortherms fumbled inside the 10. Fortunately for Creighton, Conner Hammer recovered the ball and Vortherms took it in on the next play.
“He was basically our JV quarterback before he started playing this year,” Kliment said. “He’s doing a great job.”
The game seesawed the entire evening with neither team gaining a big advantage throughout.
The Huskies led 7-6 after the opening 12 minutes and then took a 21-18 advantage into the halftime locker room.
“This was just a great high school football game,” Neptune said. “I’m proud of our guys, both teams played their hearts out. It was just a great, great game.”
West Holt (5-2) 7 14 12 0 — 33
Creighton (5-2) 6 12 8 6 — 32
CRE: Thad Hazen 11 run (PAT failed), 10:39.
WH: Jakeem Brown (Rumen Rentschler kick), 5:24.
WH: Tyler Larby 17 run (Rentschler kick), 6:53.
CRE: Sam Vortherms 34 run (PAT failed), 6:36.
WH: Larby 3 run (Rentschler kick), 4:16.
CRE: Vortherms 2 run (PAT failed), 1:43.
WH: Larby 2 run (PAT failed), 9:35.
CRE: Vortherms 36 run (Clay Curtis run), 2:31.
WH: Jason Cadwallader fumble recovery in the end zone (PAT failed), :06.8.
CRE: Vortherms 8 run (PAT failed), 28.8.