HASTINGS — Class B, No. 8 Aurora looked like it was supposed to be the top-ranked team in the class most of Friday night at Hastings College against No. 1 Hastings High School.
Aurora scored first, trailed only at 7-6 in the first quarter and led 34-21 at the half. But, the Huskies were having none of letting Hastings comeback after they tied the game late in the third quarter. Aurora went on to dominate the final 12 minutes in a 55-34 upset of the previously undefeated Tigers.
“We thought they might have some issues with our option game with all the coverages that they run defensively,” Aurora coach Kyle Peterson said. “We got them into some difficult situations early in the game in the option fits. Then, they made adjustments and we had to refine ourselves a little bit.
“Ultimately, we made about two or three plays their in the fourth quarter that were the difference in the game.”
The coach is, indeed, right.
After Hastings tied it on a 3-yard pass from Jarrett Synek to Austin Nauert with 3:38 left in the third quarter, the Huskies embarked on a game-defining possession. They moved from their own 37 to the Tiger 42 where they faced 4th-and-3 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
They lined up in punt formation with quarterback Ethan Shaw as the punter and he sprinted to his right and connected with Jacob Suttles for an 8-yard gain.
“If you think we are punting, you haven’t ever seen an Aurora football game,” Peterson quipped with a smile.
Sure we have coach.
The Huskies took the lead for good five plays later on Mack Owens’ 3-yard bull in to the end zone with 9:46 left. On Hastings’ first play from scrimmage after the touchdown, Jameson Herzberg picked off Synek and the Huskies pounded away again.
They added insurance with a 9-play, 49-yard drive that featured a Shaw scramble for a first down on 4th-and-5, then he caught a reverse pass from Cayden Phillips from 22 yards out with 4:52 left.
Shaw was a bag of tricks for the Hastings defense.
He ran for 112 yards on 20 carries, was 11-for-18 for 195 yards passing with a 28-yard touchdown to Suttles, then caught the late pass for a 329-yard all-purpose night. Decent. Owens went for 164 yards on 21 attempts and three scores as the Huskies ran 314 yards.
“Smash mouth. Old school football,” the quarterback said. “RPO stuff. We just did us. We expected to (have that success).”
He said, the Huskies — but mostly him — learned about ball security after opening the season with losses to North Platte and No. 5 Bennington.
“We learned that we need to take care of the ball,” Shaw said. “Early in the season, it was kind of me that wasn’t doing that. The past three games, I haven’t had a turnover. That’s what I need to do. We need to control the ball and we’ll win games.”
Now, his Huskies believe in themselves and have five straight wins including two over ranked teams. They’ll get another one next week when they face No. 9 Northwest in Aurora. They control their own fate for the district title.
“It was a fun win,” Shaw added. “Knocking off the No. 1 team is something special. It gives us confidence. But, their are a bunch of great teams in Class B. We have to keep our heads straight and be us.”
Peterson, ever the coach, had forgot about the win streak.
“Just trying to go 1-o each week,” he said.
at Hastings College
Aurora (5-2) 14 20 0 21—55
Hastings (6-1) 14 7 13 0 — 34
A — Ethan Shaw 9 run (run failed), 9:52
H — Zaine Weidner 31 run (Breyer Menke kick), 7:42
A — Mackenson Owens 6 run (Shaw pass from Cayden Phillips), 3:25
H — Gareth Jones 2 pass from Jarret Synek (Menke kick), 1:02
A — Ethan Shaw 14 run (pass failed), 10:07
A — Jacob Settles 28 pass from Shaw (pass failed), 8:30
H — Synek 13 run (Menke kick), 7:46
A — Owens 5 run (Britton Kemling run), 2:05
H — Synek 37 run (Menke kick), 7:20
H — Austin Nauert 3 pass from Synek (kick failed), 3:38
A — Owens 4 run (Alex Peters kick), 9:40
A — Shaw 22 pass from Phillips (Peters kick), 4:52
A — Owens 13 run (Peters kick), 1:48