Lane Yates did his postgame interviews Friday night sitting in the back of a utility vehicle.
His Omaha Westside teammates were celebrating a 14-7 win over rival Omaha Creighton Prep, which was decided by his 16-yard halfback pass to Malek Pittman in the second half. But he had been helped off the field with an ankle injury late in the game.
“I wish I was out there with my group,” Yates said, “but I'm just glad we got the win.”
The No. 6 Warriors (2-0) held their second straight opponent to a single touchdown, following last week's 24-7 opening-game win over Omaha Central.
“Nobody talked too much coming in to the season about our defense, and they took it to heart,'' Warriors coach Brett Froendt said. “Tonight might be the most proud I've been of our defense.”
No. 2 Prep (1-1) saw two scoring chances go awry. The Junior Jays lost a fumble late in the first half at the Westside goal line, which Jalen Cox-Martin scooped up and returned 35 yards.
Prep also elected to go for a 41-yard field goal with four minutes left in the game, trailing by a touchdown, and junior Peter Schropp pushed the kick wide left.
“There was a lack of consistency tonight,'' Prep coach Chris Nizzi said. “Do you have enough hands to count all the mistakes we made?”
The rivalry game drew an overflow crowd of at least 5,500 to Westside's Phelps Field, with spectators standing two deep on the Prep side of the stadium. Among those in the crowd was North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl.
The winning touchdown capped a 54-yard drive for Westside after a short Prep punt. Yates got the ball from quarterback Christian Hagan and threw to a wide-open Pittman in the end zone.
“We've been running that a lot in practice, but we just could not find the perfect way of getting it off,” Yates said. “When it got called, I had so much going through my mind. I didn't want to throw an interception.
“When I saw him wide open and threw it, and saw he scored, I was so happy. It finally worked, out of all the practices we had run.”
Yates said he heard a pop when he got tackled while Westside was trying to run out the clock. Froendt said it was too early to tell how long the returning 1,500-yarder could be out.
“He's a tough kid, so whether it's game three or game nine we hope he's back,'' the coach said. “He's the heart and soul of this team.”
Westside was more fortunate than Prep with a goal-line fumble. In the first quarter, Yates lost the ball crossing the line but Matthew Connelly covered the loose ball for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead after Hagan's extra point.
Prep gained a 7-7 tie in the second quarter on a 6-yard run by Micah Rensch, a junior who ran for 124 yards to 127 for Yates.
The remaining possessions for the Junior Jays ended fumble, fumble, punt, punt, missed field goal and end of game.
On the drive that ended with the missed field goal, Prep moved from its 22 to the Westside 28 before a procedure penalty. After a pass to leading receiver RJ Urzendowski for 5 yards, Rensch carried for 1 and 5 yards to bring up fourth down.
Hagan, making his second start at quarterback for Westside, was 12 of 15 for 109 yards and an interception.
Easton Stick was 10 of 16 for 94 yards for Prep. He was sacked five times. Urzendowski, denied the deep ball by Westside's pass rush and secondary, caught seven passes on short- to medium-length routes for 73 yards.
Westside also overcame 16 penalties for 116 yards.
Omaha Creighton Prep (1-1) ............................ 0 7 0 0—7
At Omaha Westside (2-0) ................................ 7 0 7 0—14
W: Matthew Connelly offensive fumble recovery in end zone (Christian Hagan kick)
P: Micah Rensch 6 run (Peter Schropp kick)
W: Malek Pittman 16 pass from Lane Yates (Hagan kick)
A: 5,500 (est.)
RUSHING: P, Rensch 24-124, Mike Stick 13-33, Blake Williams 1-4, Zane Zitek 1-4. W, Yates 18-127, Hagan 10-69, Jamaal Conway-Smith 1-5, Connelly 1-2, Drew Fitzmorris 2-8, Brayton Novak 1-3.
PASSING: P, Stick 10-16-0 94, W, Hagan 12-15-1 109, Yates 1-1-0 16.
RECEIVING: P, RJ Urzendowski 7-73, Alex Duncan 1-minus 3, Rensch 1-17, Trystin Ducker 1-7. W, Andrew Combs 1-13, Fitzmorris 2-8, Conway-Smith 3-25, Malek Pittman 6-64, Luke Biggs 1-13.