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For the second straight week, the Neligh-Oakdale football team rallied for a big road victory. But securing the win Thursday night in the final minute means more than just a "W" - it moved the Warriors into second place in district standings.
Neligh-Oakdale defeated North Central 49-45 at Springview. The Warriors are now 2-2 on the season and 1-0 in Class D1 District 7 action.
"I am extremely proud of the boys. We went on the road for a two hour trip and played a very experienced team that has had a lot of success over the last couple of years and were able to come out victorious," Neligh-Oakdale coach Ron Beacom said.
The Warriors were down 11 points with about six minutes to play when they just about broke a 70-yard run for a touchdown. Beacom said North Central made a great play and broke the ball out of Garret Allemang's hand, causing a touchback.
Neligh-Oakdale's defense responded and got the stop, though.
"Instead of getting down, we built each other back up and said there was still time. To get a defensive stop and follow it with a one play scoring drive from 56 yards out was a big momentum swing," Beacom said.
Grant White, who threw for 322 yards and was 16-of-27, connected with Allemang for the score. White found Chris Bentley for the two-point conversion with just 2:46 left in the game.
Still behind, the Warriors were forced to try an onside kick and managed to recover it. The Warriors then drove down the field and used a one-yard run from White for the go-ahead score. Casey Garcia kicked the PAT.
"To obtain the onside kick and follow that with a touchdown with :36 to play really showed what our kids were made of," Beacom said. "They're starting to understand they're never out of a game. Now we just need to start as fast as we are ending."
Bentley had a 115 yards receiving on three catches while Allemang had 110 yards on six. Allemang rushed for another 114 yards on just 14 carries.
Defensively, Garcia and Tyson Belitz both had six solo tackles. Garcia had another 14 assisted tackles while Blake Heithoff had 12.
The Warriors will play at home next weekend when they host district foe Niobrara-Verdigre in a 3 p.m. game.
"We haven't completely found the physicality part of the game yet but we have turned a corner in believing that we can and should win games. We had several circumstances that we could have hung our hat on and turned into an excuse," Beacom said. "Instead we continued to play on and battle every play. We showed a lot of resiliency and desire to improve. Each week we have continued to get better. This is the right time to be coming into our own."