Eric Buller rushed for 157 yards and scored two touchdowns to propel 16th seeded York to a stunning 28-9 win over Class B's top seed Scottsbluff on Friday night at Bearcat Stadium in Scottsbluff.
The outcome proved to be the biggest upset so far in this year's Nebraska state playoffs.
For York it marked the Dukes' first postseason win since 2003. The 6-4 Dukes will now host Elkhorn in a quarterfinal game on Friday. Elkhorn beat Blair 27-20 in a first-round contest.
“The whole trip was based on team bonding and I think it brought us together to pull out this big win,” Buller said. “We couldn't have done it without our coaching staff. Our coaching staff has done an amazing job this year and the team is outstanding this year.”
Buller said the Dukes executed when they needed to on offense and their defense made the plays. York held Scottsbluff to just 77 yards rushing and 300 total yards.
The Dukes one-two running back punch of Buller and Evan Neville proved to be a major factor in the contest. Neville finished with 86 yards rushing and a touchdown. Buller added 88 yards receiving with two touchdowns, an 82-yard pass reception for the opening score and then an 89-yard run with a second left in the half.
“Our game plan was mostly to stop their running game because they have one of the best running backs in the state,” Buller said. “We just wanted to shut that down and to be disciplined on offense, and cut down on the penalties.”
The loss was the first of the season for Scottsbluff. The Bearcats end a spectacular season with a record of 9-1.
Scottsbluff coach Joe Benson said York is a good team and his Bearcats just flat out got out-played.
“Early on I thought we were going to take it in and get up 7-0. But I am not an excuse maker, we got out-played and that is the bottom line,” Benson said. “York is the real deal and they got a hat on our hat and we didn't do anything different than we did all year when we stopped people. Tonight we didn't stop people. They might be the best team that we have played.”
There were plenty key moments in the contest for both squads, but it was the Dukes that had the bigger plays.
“Late in the season most of our gains have been big plays,” Buller said. “We work off those and feed off those big plays and keep driving down the field to keep us going.”
Scottsbluff started strong by taking the opening kickoff and marching straight down the field. But the 19-play drive was bogged down with two key penalties when the Bearcats reached the 10-yard line forcing Scottsbluff backwards into a punting situation.
“We knocked it right down the field in the first drive,” Benson said. “It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if we scored. It may have been a little bit different.”
York's first series resulted in a score when quarterback Linden Kaliff and Buller hooked up on an 82-yard touchdown that put the Dukes on the scoreboard first.
Midway through the second quarter, the Bearcats put together another solid drive. Following three straight completions by Eric Moreno, including a 27-yard hookup with Luke Worden, the Bearcats managed to drive deep into York territory. However, the Bearcats had to settle for a 31-yard Randy Wentz field goal.
Late in the first half, Buller broke loose for an 89-yard touchdown run down the sideline to give the Dukes a 14-3 cushion at halftime.
The Bearcats came out in the second half with plenty of fire as Worden got things started with an interception on York's first series. However, the Bearcats had to punt after a three-and-out.
On the ensuing York series, the Bearcats' Matt Klein was injured and didn't return. After Klein and York's Neville had a helmet-to-helmet collision, Klein laid motionless for 5 to 10 seconds before turning over. He then was taken to the hospital for safety reasons.
Scottsbluff stiffened on defense and held York to a 44-yard field goal attempt, which came up short.
York scored its third touchdown with 11 minutes to play in the game when Neville scored from 12 yards out for the 21-3 lead.
The Bearcats mounted a late charge scoring on the next series behind the arm of Moreno. Moreno started things by hooking up with Worden for an 8-yard gain and then found Tim Magdeleno for an 18-yard gain. Moreno capped off the series by completing a pass to Tayler Winkler for a spectacular 44-yard reception for the score to cut the lead to 22-9.
Scottsbluff couldn't must much offense the rest of the way.
York put the game away when Kaliff scored on a 1-yard run with just under two minutes to play.
Kaliff finished the game completing 10 of 16 passes for 169 yards.
Scottsbluff's Moreno completed 16 of 32 passes for 223 yards. Winkler caught four passes for 93 yards, while Worden had seven receptions for 79 yards. Magdaleno had 20 yards receiving.
The Bearcats had just 77 yards rushing, led by Klein with 54 yards before going out in the third quarter. Moreno had 11 yards rushing, while Worden had eight yards on the ground.
York (6-4)........................7 7 0 14 – 28
Scottsbluff (9-1)..............0 3 0 6 – 9
Y — Linden Kaliff 82-yard pass to Eric Buller (Colten Sikes kick).
SB – Randy Wentz 31-yard field goal.
Y – Buller 89-yard run (Sikes kick).
Y – Evan Neville 12-yard run (Siikes kick).
SB – Eric Moreno 44-yard pass to Taylor Winkler (2-pt no good).
Y – Kaliff 1-yard run (Sikes kick).