Bulldogs advance to Nebraska state playoff semifinals

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Posted: Wednesday, November 7, 2018 8:49 am | Updated: 10:10 am, Wed Nov 7, 2018.

Less than a month ago, 32 Nebraska Class D1 football teams entered the Nebraska School Activities Association playoffs.

Creighton is one of four that remain as contenders for the state championship.

The Bulldogs quickly overcame a lost fumble on the opening kickoff return at Norfolk’s Memorial Field last night, stopping the Lutheran High Northeast Eagles’ first possession on the 14-yard line.

Then, three plays later, Brayden Zimmerer took the ball on a 69-yard trip to the house. It was one of many long Bulldog runs to pay dirt.

The Bulldogs put almost 600 offensive yards in the books, nearly all of it - 539 yards - on the ground.

But when quarterback Brayden Zimmerer took to the air, he and his company made it count. Four of his five passes were complete, including a 25 yarder to Thad Hazen for a touchdown. Zimmerer ran for 156 yards and three touchdowns.

Bryce Zimmerer had 199 yards on the ground and three TDs.

Hazen added a second TD, on a 69-yard race to the endzone.

A running clock started just before the third quarter ended and Coach Zac Kliment sent the starters to the bench, allowing the young Bulldogs to gain expereince on the turf.

After the junior Bulldogs gave up one touchdown and a two-point conversion, reserve quarterback Sam Vortherms took the ball 49 yards to the end zone in the final minutes of the game.

The 76-28 victory gives Creighton’s seniors one last home game.

Unofficially, Exeter-Milligan/Friend, a cooperative team that brought an 8-0 record to the playoffs, defeated Guardian Angel Central Catholic, 46-12, in Beemer last night and will make the trip to Creighton for the semifinal matchup.

On the west side, undefeated number-one seed Burwell eliminated Arcadia-Loup City at Arcadio last night, 43-8 to advance to the semifinals. North Central won over  Dundy County-Stratton, 50-14, and will travel to Burwell.

Semifinal winners score trips to Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium.

A freshman Bulldog receiver took the opening kickoff of last Wednesday’s second-round playoff game to the house, scoring just 11 seconds into the game at Bill Harder Memorial Field in Creighton.

Cade Hammer raced 72 yards for the touchdown, unleashing the Bulldogs, who ran away to a 58-6 halftime lead.

By the halfway mark, the Zimmerer boys, quarterback Brayden, and his go-to  running back, Bryce, had teamed up for 260 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, running through holes punched open by senior linemen Travis Tyler, JD Kuhlman, Cameron Tyler and company.

Bryce Zimmerer, a senior who was rumored to be nearing 5,000 total high school offensive yards, got away with 118 yards and four TDs, and fetched two passes for 15 yards. He also had seven tackles and assisted on one as a defender.

Brayden Zimmerer, a junior, found the end zone three times, on runs of 56, 31 and 15 yards, and completed five of six passes for another 86 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, he had nine solo tackles and two assists, along with retrieving a Gator pass.

Junior Sam Van Metre caught two passes for 60 yards and Hazen, a junior, caught one for 11 yards and ran for 19.

Terrance Burrell, also a junior, kicked off eight times in the first half, each time putting the football within 10 yards of the end zone.

The Gators only TD against the varsity Bulldogs came after a kickoff was returned from the 5-yard line to Creighton’s 36. The Gators took the ball to the end zone after a 10-play drive that began late in the first quarter.

An attempt to run at first-and-goal was stopped by Creighton junior Clay Curtis, and he and Hazen nearly picked off the second-and-goal pass, but the WP receiver got his hands around it and the Gators were on the board.

Defensively, the varsity dog pack limited Wisner-Pilger to 116 yards and the single touchdown in the first half, behind leader-of-the-pack Travis Tyler, who attacked the Gators five times for negative yardage, in one instance, taking down an offensive blocker and the ball carrier at the same time, one in each arm. Three times, he sacked the quarterback, for a total 25 negative yards. He also forced a fumble and blocked a punt that Cameron Tyler recovered on the Wisner-Pilger one-yard line, setting up Bryce Zimmerer’s second TD.

The 58-6 halftime score initiated a running clock for the second half. Kliment sent the reserves in on the Bulldogs’ first drive of the half.

The young Bulldogs allowed one touchdown - in the fourth quarter - and finished out the 66-12 victory when Vortherms called his own number and scampered two yards for a TD and Logan Eggers ran for two points.

The Bulldogs had no turnovers, self recovering their two fumbles. They found themselves in third-down situations just three times and saw one fourth down, late in the third quarter. Brenden Waldow punted once, a 32-yard kick late in the game. The Bulldogs had the ball back two plays later when a WP fumble was recovered by Dylan Kuhlman, setting up Vortherms’ TD.

Wisner-Pilger saw 13 third downs, converting just three, and handed the ball over to Creighton twice on fourth down. The team punted four times and was penalized 40 yards for five offenses.

The Bulldogs drew four flags, also penalized 40 yards.

LHNE punched its ticket to this week’s quarterfinals with a 66-26 road win over Osceola-High Plains, the 13-seed team that upset defending D1 champion Bruling-Davenport/Shickley in the first round.

GACC advanced to the quarterfinals with a 40-34 win over Howells-Dodge, while EMF eliminated Fullerton with a 40-28 victory in Friend.

Two semifinal games will be played Monday, Nov. 12, with the victors heading to Memorial Stadium in Lincoln for the championship game, Nov. 19.

In D2 playoff action, Bloomfield advanced to the quarterfinals with a win over Osmond last week, but were eliminated in the quarterfinals, 72-32, Tuesday night by Johnson-Brock.

Northeast Nebraska teams, Randolph, Hartington-Newcastle, Allen and Clearwater/Orchard were eliminated in the second round, while Wausa and Plainview’s seasons ended with first-round losses.

© 2018 The Creighton News . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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