One streak continued and another came to an end Friday night as the Wolfpack defeated Neligh-Oakdale.
Elgin Public/Pope John clinched the D1 District 7 title and won its fourth straight game in the 36-20 victory over the Warriors. The loss snapped Neligh-Oakdale's four-game win streak.
"We did a lot of good things," N-O Coach Ron Beacom said. "At this point in the season though, the teams start to get better and you have to play a complete game in order to win. Offensively, that means you have to take care of the ball and execute at a pretty high level. Defensively, that means you have to play every down. We were doing a pretty good job on and 1st and 2nd down and then giving up a big play on 3rd down. On 3rd down we have to learn to buckle down and make one more stop so that we can get off the field and get our offense back on the field. Special teams, that means we have to field balls cleanly, have our blockers execute the scheme and allow our return game to set up better field position. It also means we have to have excellent kick coverage. All phases are coming, and at times look superior. However, as you get into the tail end of your schedule and are playing for district titles and ultimately start playing playoff caliber teams, they have to be at a high level."
The Wolfpack pulled ahead of the Warriors late in the second quarter, using a strong run game behind the legs of sophomore Chad Bode.
EPPJ started the third quarter with the ball and held it on the one possession for nearly the entire quarter as the Wolfpack slowly marched down the field for a touchdown. The Warriors responded with a quick score as they flew down the field through the air, but Neligh-Oakdale struggled defensively to stop the Wolfpack's powerful run game.
Beacom said EPPJ was 8-13 on 3rd down conversions and 6-6 on 4th down conversions. Click here for Warrior stats and here for Wolfpack stats.
"Give them a lot of credit," he said. "It extended their drives and really made it so we had to be perfect offensively. We only ran 41 offensive plays compared to their 68. In the middle two quarters, it was really pronounced, because we only ran 14 plays to their 43. This will be a really good film for us to learn from and move forward. It only dashed one of our goals. We lost out on being District Champions. However, there is still a lot to play for and our team is pretty hungry."
Both teams are now 4-3 on the season. The Wolfpack are 4-0 in the district while Neligh-Oakdale is 3-1. In wild-card standings, EPPJ is 17th with 40.5714 points and Neligh-Oakdale is 20th with 39.8571 points.
Both teams end the regular season next week and have guaranteed themselves a playoff berth. On Thursday, EPPJ travels to Boyd County (1-6) and the Warriors travel to Clearwater-Orchard (1-6).
N-O 14 0 0 6 - 20
EPPJ 8 14 8 6 - 36