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For the first time all season, Neligh-Oakdale was forced to rally from two scores down to stay undefeated on the season.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Warriors battled back to score three times in the final stanza for the 47-36 win to preserve their perfect season.
After the game, Coach Ron Beacom reminded his players that their "playoff season" is half over. Since the Warriors are ineligible for the NSAA playoffs due to enrollment numbers, the coaching staff has said repeatedly that every game is a playoff game for Neligh-Oakdale.
"This was our fourth playoff game. What that means is it's half way over," Beacom said. "People keep saying it's a shame you guys can't be in the playoffs, but they don't understand - we are."
The Warriors scored quickly in the first quarter and held a two-point advantage after the first quarter and snuck a three-point lead into halftime.
And then the points dried up for the Warriors for more than a quarter as the Jaguars shut out the Warriors offensively and grabbed the lead. But Beacom said his players responded in the fourth quarter when the game was on the line.
"This was the first time we've been down two touchdowns," he said. "Answered the call, stuck a couple back in and took the lead. We played hard and made plays when we had to. The bottom line is in a big game, big-time players make big-time plays, and we had guys who made big-time plays."
Neligh-Oakdale didn't just take the lead in the final quarter. The Warriors owned the fourth quarter and outscored Howells-Dodge 20-6 for a convincing double-figure victory.
"Like I talked about at half time, nothing worth having is ever going to come easy," Beacom said. "Nobody's just going to give you something special."
He said the Warriors were shorthanded due to injuries and several players moved to different positions to fill the gaps.
Beacom said he was proud of his team "for working through some adversity when we probably didn't play our best game. I'm hoping maybe we learn a lesson from tonight."
The Warriors will be on the road next week as they travel to Clarkson-Leigh for a matchup with another Highway 91 team.
Score By Quarters
Neligh-Oakdale (4-0) 16 11 0 20 - 47
Howells-Dodge (2-2) 12 12 6 6 - 36