For the first time in nearly two decades the Scottsbluff High School football team will play in the Class B state championship game in Lincoln.
On Friday night at Bearcat Stadium it was Scottsbluff erasing another second half deficit to beat the defending state champion York Dukes, 27-21.
The Bearcats will play Omaha Skutt in the title game on Tuesday night, November 20th, starting at 7:30 CT.
The scoring started late in the first quarter with York backed up deep in their own end. Garrett Snodgrass, York’s superstar quarterback dropped deep into his own end zone and had his middle screen pass intercepted by Sabastian Harsh, who caught it while standing on pay dirt as Scottsbluff took the early 6-0 lead.
Turnovers were a major story in the game.
York would respond quickly with a four play, 65 yard touchdown drive. After a long pass from Snodgrass to Jeb Lucas it was Jacob Diaz scoring on an 8 yard run and with the PAT it was 7-6 York early in the second quarter.
York would score again before halftime with 2:23 to play in the second quarter on a Snodgrass 1 yard touchdown plunge and at the break it was 14-6 with the Dukes on top.
But just like last week in their come from behind win over Roncalli the Cats were not going to be denied on their home field.
In the second half it was patented Bearcat football coupled with mistakes from York that led to the final outcome.
The lone points of the third quarter belonged to Scottsbluff as big junior quarterback Sabastian Harsh rumbled in from 12 yards out. York’s defense stood tall and stopped the two point conversion try as the Dukes continued to lead, 14-12, as the game headed to the final twelve minutes.
Early stages of the fourth quarter York hit, what at the time, seemed like a crucial pass play. With 10:17 to play it was Snodgrass connecting with Lucas for a 71 yard touchdown pass and with the PAT York made it a two score game, leading 21-12.
I said turnovers were huge. After a Snodgrass fumble in the third quarter, York would turn the ball over three more times in the final stanza; two Snodgrass interceptions and another Snodgrass fumble as Scottsbluff once again rallied for a victory.
Scottsbluff star running back Chris Busby was held in check most of the night by that stout defense from York, so in the second half Scottsbluff turned a bulk of the running duties over to Harsh, who from his quarterback position, ran downhill and used his 220 pound frame to start to wear down York just a little bit.
With 8:25 to play in the game Harsh scored on a 1 yard run and with the PAT the York lead was cut to 21-19.
Then came another Snodgrass interception, with Keegan Reifschneider returning the pick down inside the 10 yard line. From there, less than a minute and a half later, Busby found the end zone with a four yard run and Harsh hit Reifschneider for the two point conversion pass and Scottsbluff went ahead for good, 27-21.
Snodgrass would throw a couple more late interceptions including a game clinching pick by Jeremiah Delzer with less than forty seconds to play in the game.
From there it was victory formation and the celebration was on as Scottsbluff pocketed their third straight home playoff win with the 27-21 final.
The overall turnover battle? York turned it over six times while Scottsbluff had just one turnover. Plus five in the turnover column usually leads to a win.
Penalties were also front and center in this one. York was flagged 12 times for a total of 108 yards while Scottsbluff committed a total of 9 penalties for 72 yards.
York out-gained Scottsbluff in total offense 381 to 243. The leading rusher in the game was York’s Jacob Diaz, who tallied 115 yards on 15 carries. Diaz was injured late in the first half and in the second half managed only three rushes for 2 yards.
Snodgrass, who came in to this game with a banged up ankle, finished with just 39 yards rushing on 18 attempts with a pair of lost fumbles. In the passing game he was 4 of 17 for 179 yards with a touchdown pass and four interceptions.
For Scottsbluff it was Harsh with 76 yards on 14 rushes with a pair of touchdowns. Jacob Krul came up with some key carries, finishing with 72 yards on 10 carries while Busby ran it 27 times for a total of 66 yards with the game winning touchdown.
In the passing game there wasn’t much happening for Scottsbluff; Harsh hit 3 of 9 for 29 yards on the night.
Once again, Keegan Reifschneider proved he’s an elite player. Last week it was the five touchdown catches. Last night he was everywhere on defense; defending and picking off two passes, making big stops in the running game. He shut down an entire York offensive series by himself in the fourth quarter.
It’s been an amazing last calendar year for York High School. They won the 2017 football, boys basketball, and boys golf titles and they played through a ton of injuries last night.
I know the respect level for York from everyone involved with Scottsbluff football is very high.
Scottsbluff Offensive Coordiantor, Jud Hall, called York’s Brady Danielson the best overall athlete in Class B.
Coach Hall joined the postgame show on KNEB to talk about another game effort from this Bearcats club, “We’ve got a special group of kids. Kids that will battle, never think they’re down or never think they’re out. The talk on the sideline was positive the entire night. Guys encouraging each other, having each others back, telling everybody to keep going , we’re not going to lose. We have a special group of kids.”
So, the Bearcats will head to Lincoln for a title game for the first time since 2000, when they got beat by Crete 13-3 (they also lost the championship gamein 1999 to Elkhorn 23-8).
The seeds have held to form, #1 Omaha Skutt vs. #2 Scottsbluff. It’ll be the final high school football game of the season in the state on Tuesday night, November 20th, starting at 7:30 central time.
“I’d say York and Skutt are the measuring sticks in Class B football. So anytime you get a chance to go up against the best you get to challenge yourself and see where you’re at. They’ll be extremely well coached with Coach Turman. They’re gonna run some power football. They have a great running back and a great defense that will stand there and challenge you”, Coach Hall said about Skutt.
KNEB will have coverage on 94.1 The Brand and kneb.com starting with Countdown to a Championship at 5:30 mountain time taking you up to kickoff at 6:30.