Bouncing back from a road loss to Elkhorn Valley, the Neligh-Oakdale Junior High football team improved it's record to 3-1 with a 20-12 victory over O'Neill St. Mary's on October 3 in Neligh.
The Warrior offense was in high gear early, scoring on it's first three possessions of the game. Neligh-Oakdale notched it's first score on a Colton Klabenes 8-yard touchdown run. Brock Kester and Dawson Kaup connected for the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead.
After a defensive stop, the Warriors added a second score when Kester again connected with Kaup, this time for a 17-yard touchdown pass. A failed conversion made the score 14-0.
The Warrior defense yielded a touchdown drive but shut down the two-point conversion attempt to maintain a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Neligh-Oakdale struck early in the second quarter with a Kester touchdown run. A failed conversion attempt gave the Warriors a 20-6 lead.
Near the end of the first half, a Julien Hearn interception ended a potential St. Mary's scoring drive.
In the second half, the home team moved the ball consistently but was unable to dent the scoreboard. After the Cardinals managed another scoring drive, Neligh-Oakdale linebackers Garret Belitz and Caleb Payne combined to sack the St. Mary's quarterback to stop the two-point attempt. With five minutes to go in the game, St. Mary's intercepted a pass and returned in to the Warrior 22-yard line. However, Neligh-Oakdale's defense held strong, stopping the visitors on four straight downs. On the final play of the game, a St. Mary's last attempt pass was intercepted by Belitz to end the game.
Hearn led the warrior rushing attack with 74 yards, with Kester adding 57 yards of his own. Klabanes and Tyson Rix added 48 and 7 yards, respectively.
Kester had 62 yards passing, all to Kaup.
Defensively, Payne and Kaup each recorded sacks. Hearn and Belitz each added an interception.
Head coach Gary Davis applauded the Warrior's effort.
"This was a game where the boys found out they could overcome some adversity and win a tight game," he said. "The defensive stand in the fourth quarter was crucial in order to hold onto our lead. Offensively, we came out of the gate quickly but seemed to lose our focus a little bit in the second half."
The Warriors now travel to Orchard on October 10 to take on the Clearwater-Orchard Cyclones.