>> Video Below: See Millard North-Millard South game and fan highlights
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It's not an official motto for Millard North yet, but the Mustangs can rally around a short phrase their coach tucked into his postgame talk Friday night.
One more time.
The top-ranked Mustangs did it again, getting a 39-yard field goal off the right foot of senior kicker Andy Bayne with 19 seconds remaining to outslug backyard rival No. 3 Millard South 38-35 in a classic of a state playoff semifinal played in front of a reporter-estimated 5,500 fans at Buell Stadium.
If the Mustangs can do it one more time Nov. 19 inside Memorial Stadium in the Class A title game, it will put a cap on one of the best high school football seasons in Nebraska history and give them their fourth state title since 2003.
“I told them one thing I love about football is them,” Millard North coach Fred Petito said afterwards, just moments before his team mobbed him at midfield, breaking up his interview. “And that's true. I really love these dudes.”
Every haymaker seemed to connect in the fourth quarter, but each chin seemed tougher than the last in the back-and-forth tussle.
It appeared as if Millard North had its trip to the championship sewn up when Isaac Aakre went in for a 14-yard touchdown scamper with 1:35 to play. That came one snap after he hit Matt Evans for a 25-yard gain on an option pass play on 4th-and-4.
But just as quickly as its momentum left, Millard South snatched it right back. The Patriots used a statue of liberty reverse play for a 65-yard touchdown run by Quentin Williams to knot things at 35-35 just 10 seconds later.
Aakre, when asked what the mood was like on the Mustang sideline after that big play, slumped his shoulders and shook his head a bit.
“All right, let's do it again,” he then said.
Millard North took over at its own 24 on a drive that Petito admitted he was just hoping to get a first down out of.
“And then we popped a run, and then things got a little more serious,” he said.
Millard South used a pair of timeouts to set up a third down in Mustang territory. On that snap, Aakre went around the right side for about 15 yards before pitching in traffic to Evans for another 7. A pair of completions to Nick Roth of 12 and 13 yards helped Millard North reach the 22 to set things up for Bayne.
His boot, from the left hash, barely made it inside the left upright to set off a wild celebration on the Mustang sideline and in the stands.
“I can't even say 'tucked' is the right word for it,” said Bayne. “It might have hit the left upright.”
Millard South's shot at one last comeback lasted just two plays. A long incompletion down the left sideline preceded two delay of game penalties before a last attempt went for just 11 yards and ended with a crushing tackle near the Millard North sideline.
“They won. They deserve to go,” Millard South coach Andy Means said as he walked quickly off the field. “(We) just wore down. They went and won the game.”
Means' group led twice in the first half and answered each Millard North score in the second half with a touchdown of its own. Anthony Cloyd had three rushing touchdowns and Williams went for 152 yards on seven carries to lead the Patriots.
But Aakre was too much. The senior had 24 of his 37 carries in the second half, finished with 227 yards on the ground, 115 more through the air and four total touchdowns.
“You keep the ball in Isaac's hands,” Petito said, “you know good things happen.”
Millard South (9-3) ................... 7 7 7 14—35
Millard North (12-0) ................. 0 14 7 17—38
MS: Anthony Cloyd 32 run (Nick Giaffoglione kick).
MN: Conner Matthew 34 run (Andy Bayne kick).
MS: Cloyd 3 run (Giaffoglione kick).
MN: Matt Evans 6 pass from Isaac Aakre (Bayne kick).
MN: Nick Roth 33 pass from Aakre (Bayne kick).
MS: Quentin Williams 47 pass from Cloyd (Giaffoglione kick).
MN: Aakre 1 run (Bayne kick).
MS: Cloyd 18 run (Giaffoglione kick).
MN: Aakre 14 run (Bayne kick).
MS: Williams 65 run (Giaffoglione kick).
MN: Bayne 39 FG.
RUSHING: MS, Bennie Olsen 9-48, Anthony Cloyd 11-76, Quentin Williams 7-152, Will Beard 1-minus 1; MN, Conner Matthew 12-76, Isaac Aakre 37-227, Matt Evans 4-23, Clay Fischer 3-8, Grant DeVries 2-3.
PASSING: MS, Cloyd 5-12-1 79; MN, Aakre 8-12-0 115.
RECEIVING: MS, Williams 2-52, Kyle McMindes 1-11, Beard 2-16; MN, Nick Roth 6-84, Matt Evans 2-31.
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