In the first playoff game held at Warrior Field since 2006, the Neligh-Oakdale faithful braved the wind and cold Wednesday night. In front of hundreds of fans, the Warriors ended their season with a 50-35 loss to undefeated Creighton.
Neligh-Oakdale coach Ron Beacom, who is in just his second year with the program, said the mindset and confidence of his players has changed. He said the Warriors never talked about playing with Creighton - it was always about beating the Bulldogs.
“Never once did we talk about playing them close. Never once did we talk about getting to half time. Never once did we talk about let’s play four quarters and see what happens,” Beacom said. “Every time we talked about ‘when we beat these guys.’ ‘What are we going to do to win?’
The Warriors burst out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter against the top-seeded Bulldogs. Sophomore quarterback Grant White connected with Garett Allemang and Marquis Granville for touchdowns.
Creighton scored late in the first quarter and then took the lead in the second quarter when Colton Boelter found the end zone from the one-yard line, putting the Bulldogs up 16-14. Creighton scored again thanks to a 68-yard scamper from Reid Liska, but the Warriors responded to tie the game at 22 when White connected again with Allemang for a 19-yard touchdown following several penalties that had pushed the Warriors back on third down.
Creighton took a 30-22 lead into halftime and added to it in the second half. The Warriors never let Creighton get comfortable with its lead and stayed within striking distance.
The 6-4 Warriors ended the season with their best record in nearly a decade.
"The kids bought into it. We won six out of the last seven. They really got on a roll and really understood what we were trying to do. They executed at a high level. That’s a good football team,” he said.