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Despite several 30-plus deficits, the Elkhorn Valley football team refused to quit and battled all game, but eventually fell to Osceola/High Plains, 69-38, Friday.
"(It was) 38 against 11 (players) and I was really happy with our effort all the way through," said Elkhorn Valley coach Brendan Dittmer. "In the second quarter we could have went one of two ways. We chose the positive route, we started playing for each other, making plays and all of sudden it was a ball game at halftime."
The Falcons fell in an early 26-0 hole through the first quarter of play.
Brock Schaecher got Elkhorn Valley on the scoreboard with a four-yard touchdown run.
On the ensuing kickoff, Keaton Van Housen took the kickoff to the house, pushing the Stormdogs' lead to 34-6.
Following a Van Housen touchdown run, Josh McFarland answered with a five-yard scoring run.
Just before the half, Braedyn Ollendick connected on a 38-yard TD pass to Adam Miller, making the score 41-20 at half.
Both teams exchanged turnovers to start the second half and Ollendick found Miller for a 34-yard touchdown pass, to draw to within 15 of OHP.
"We talked about it at halftime, the way responded midway through the second quarter was all the tale I needed to know about these kids and how hard they are going to fight for me," Dittmer said. "We cut it to 15 in the third and that is exactly what we talked about at halftime. From there, there were a couple of series where we didn't get the plays to go our way and I should've punted at mid-field, but we went for it. It's one of those things you live or die on a gutsy call like that. Van Housen took over after that."
After the lead was cut to 15, the Stormdogs responded with a 30-yard Van Housen scoring run, a Carter Boden TD run and one final Van Housen touchdown.
Elkhorn Valley continued to fight as McFarland broke free for a 35-yard score.
Bryce Reed sealed the game with a 55-yard touchdown scamper with under seven minutes to go in the contest.
The Falcons found pay dirt one final time, as Schaecher scored on a 49-yard scoring pass from Ollendick.
OHP's running attack was the key to the win. On 43 carries, the Stormdogs rushed for 371 yards - more than eight yards per carry. Van Housen led the way with 174 yards on the ground, four rushing touchdowns and a kickoff return for a score. Boden added 110 yards rushing and a score.
"They're a really good team," Dittmer said. "The Van Housen kid is an absolute stud. I don't know of an eight-man football player who might be better."
After a slow start offensively, Elkhorn Valley found its groove starting in the second quarter. The Falcons gained 364 yards of total offense. McFarland rushed for a team-best 141 yards and two TDs, Schaecher accumulated more than a 100 yards of total offense and two scores, Ollendick completed 10 passes for more than 200 yards and three touchdowns and Miller tallied four catches for 88 yards and found the end zone twice.
"We knew watching film and in preparation, we could move the ball on them," continued Dittmer. "It was matter of disbelief early in the game and miscues. We missed some catches we normally make and we didn't get the blocking assignments. Once we sured that up, all of sudden our offense took off."
Osceola/High Plains (3-1) hosts Cross Country Friday at 7 p.m.
Elkorn Valley (1-2) looks to bounce back Friday when Madison comes to Tilden for a 7 p.m. contest.
"I told the boys after the game, 2-2 we're a playoff team," Dittmer concluded. "We're not on the outside looking in, we're on the inside of the 32. We need to make sure to use that as motivation moving forward and I think next week could be a step forward for us."