AURORA, Neb. — After having pulled within one point and forcing Norris to punt with less than four minutes left in the first half, Aurora looked poised to grab the momentum of Friday’s Class B state semifinal.
Instead, things started to snowball Norris’ way, to the tune of 38 straight points and a 52-13 victory.
A roughing-the-punter penalty gave No. 5 Norris a second chance on that possession. Norris eventually scored a touchdown on the drive, and the Titans (10-2) tacked on another TD before halftime to grab a 28-13 lead and firm control of the momentum.
“They got the roughing on our punter, and it kind of snowballed from there,” Norris coach Jim Jacobsen said. “(The two late first-half touchdowns) got momentum on our side. Once you get that going, it’s tough to let go.”
Class B’s leading rusher, James Kruger, scored touchdowns of 5 and 24 yards in the third quarter as Norris pulled away. Kruger finished with 227 yards on 33 carries and four touchdowns.
After gaining 191 yards in the first half, Aurora was limited to 118 in the second.
“We kind of settled down a little bit,” Jacobsen said. “We had a hard time with their veer game option responsibilities, so we got that cleaned up. Then we tackled a little bit better, so defensively we were able to shut them down a little bit.”
Aurora coach Randy Huebert said Norris’ two touchdowns at the end of the first half were tough to overcome.
“I think if we would have had some good things happen there. ... The blocked punt, I thought we had that. Shoot, the kid was in great position. It just didn’t happen. Things weren’t going our way,” Huebert said. “Those two touchdowns they scored right before the half hurt. It seemed like we kind of dug ourselves a hole a few times in the second half and got third-and-long situations, which wasn’t good for our football team.”
Aurora played the game without three injured starters — quarterback Troy McDonald, outside linebacker Trent Arndt and guard Sam Pickrel. Also, Ben McQuiston played with a cast on his left hand, limiting him to playing defense instead of his usual additional roles as receiver and punter.
Norris advances to a state championship game for the first time since winning the 1979 Class B title.
“This is great,” Jacobsen said. “These kids have worked extremely hard and our coaching staff has worked extremely hard. We’re looking forward to the extra week of practice and we’ll give it our best shot next week.”
Norris (10-2) ................. 7 21 14 10—52
At Aurora (9-3) ................. 7 6 0 0—13
N: Kruger 4 run (Bellinghausen kick)
A: Williams 13 run (McQuiston kick)
N: Reetz 1 run (Bellinghausen kick)
A: Bricker 1 run (kick failed)
N: Kruger 28 run (Bellinghausen kick)
N: Flodman 8 pass from Reetz (Bellinghausen kick)
N: Kruger 5 run (Bellinghausen kick)
N: Kruger 24 run (Bellinghausen kick)
N: Bellinghausen 30 field goal
N: Davis 59 run (Bellinghausen kick)
RUSHING: N, Kruger 33-227, Davis 6-88, Reetz 11-30, Docter 1-2. A, Reichardt 14-108, Geiger 4-43, Standage 8-36, Ashby 5-26, Williams 1-13, Bricker 6-12, Kittle 5-4.
PASSING: N, Reetz 5-7-0 69. A, Standage 8-20-1 64, Kittle 1-2-0 3.
RECEIVING: N, Gutzmer 2-47, Helmink 1-10, Flodman 1-8, Bornschlegl 1-4. A, Williams 3-15, Reichardt 2-24, Ashby 2-13, Hunt 1-11, Allen 1-4.