BEATRICE, Neb. — Aurora did its part to add to an upset-filled Class B playoffs this year.
The No. 8-rated Huskies never trailed and overcame some injuries to knock off No. 1 and undefeated Beatrice 27-19 in Friday’s quarterfinals.
The win advances Aurora (9-2) to next Friday’s semifinals, where it will host No. 5 Norris, a 28-7 winner over No. 2 Gretna.
“It was tremendous,” Aurora coach Randy Huebert said of his team’s effort during his postgame radio interview. “We had guys get banged up tonight, but we hung together. We kept encouraging and motivating each other.”
Aurora drove 82 yards in 12 plays on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead on a 3-yard Troy McDonald quarterback keeper with 8:06 left in the first quarter.
Beatrice (10-1) answered to tie it with 3:45 remaining in the first on a 1-yard Chance Baumann run.
Aurora regained the lead by converting on fourth-and-6 on the opening play of the second quarter. Brock Reichardt had an 18-yard reception for the score to cap a 12-play, 80-yard drive.
But Beatrice quickly struck back with Dakota VanLaningham running 80 yards for a touchdown on the next play from scrimmage. The PAT kick was blocked by Reichardt, allowing Aurora to hold on to a 14-13 lead with 11:39 left in the half.
VanLaningham finished with 122 yards on nine carries, but he left the game with an injury early in the third quarter and didn’t return.
The defenses held the rest of the way until halftime, with the Orangemen using an interception to stop the Huskies as they were heading toward the red zone.
Reichardt opened the second-half scoring with a 14-yard run with 6:14 left in the third to extend the Huskies’ lead to 21-13.
Beatrice got the next touchdown from Jessup Workman with 7:36 left in the game. But the two-point conversion failed, so Aurora still led 21-19.
Aurora lost McDonald to an injury on its next possession, and he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg as he was helped off the field. But backup quarterback Luke Standage completed a 30-yard pass to Blake Williams on his first pass attempt.
On fourth-and-2, Aurora got a much-needed insurance score with a 30-yard touchdown pass by Standage to a wide-open tight end Alex Hunt. The PAT failed, keeping it 27-19 and a one-possession game with 3:40 remaining.
“That’s a play we just put in this week,” Huebert said of the touchdown. “We ran it a lot in the old days. ...and we brought that one back out. Our kids executed well and made a great play.”
The Orangemen were able to convert on fourth-and-7 from the Aurora 33-yard line with 1:47 left to keep their hopes alive. But the Aurora defense then got the stop it needed, and the Huskies were able to kneel down and run out the clock.
Aurora also lost receiver/safety Trent Arndt to an injury during the game. Receiver/defensive back Ben McQuiston saw his playing time limited after he was shaken up in the first half.
McDonald completed 16 of 24 passes for 179 yards before he exited with his injury.
“Troy did a tremendous job running our offense tonight,” Huebert said. “I sure hope he’s going to be all right.”
Aurora (9-2)..................................7 7 7 6—27
Beatrice (10-1)..................................7 6 0 6—19
A: Troy McDonald 3 run (kick)
B: Chance Baumann 1 run (Zach Decker kick)
A: Brock Reichardt 18 pass from McDonald (kick)
B: Dakota VanLaningham 80 run (kick blocked)
A: Reichardt 14 run (kick)
B: Jessup Workman 2 run (run failed)
A: Hunt 30 pass from Luke Standage (kick failed)