A cloudless night for football still produced a pair of lightning strikes Friday night for Omaha Creighton Prep.
The Juniors Jays' big-play connection of quarterback Easton Stick and wide receiver RJ Urzendowski hooked up for two long touchdown passes as the third-ranked Junior Jays rallied for a 35-27 victory over seventh-ranked Lincoln Southeast. Prep overcame a 17-point deficit to boost its record to 3-1 while the Knights fell to 2-2.
The first long strike between the pair covered 81 yards and pulled the Junior Jays within 17-7. Stick lofted a pass deep downfield and Urzendowski caught it in stride, outracing a defender to the end zone.
With Prep leading by a point late in the third quarter, the duo combined for an even more spectacular TD. Stick hit Urzendowski on a relatively short down-and-out and he turned it into something much more, racing 97 yards for the score.
“It's about time we connected like this,'' Stick said. “We've missed the last couple of weeks, but the runs he made after catching the ball tonight were spectacular.''
Stick, a 6-foot-2 senior, completed 10 of 15 passes for 271 yards. He also had a 10-yard TD toss to Urzendowski, who caught six passes for 218 yards.
“It all starts with our offensive line,'' Urzendowski said. “Easton got great protection and we were able to connect tonight.''
The game, played in front of an estimated 3,500 at Burke Stadium, didn't begin like a Prep highlight reel. Southeast led 10-0 after the first quarter and extended that advantage to 17-0 early in the second quarter on a 22-yard run by Hunter Johnson.
“I wish we didn't dig ourselves a hole like that,'' Prep coach Chris Nizzi said. “But we had the grit to recover and played much better after that.''
Not much went right for the Junior Jays until Stick's 81-yard touchdown throw to Urzendowski with 4:35 left in the second quarter. That started a 35-3 scoring run by the Junior Jays and gave them a needed spark.
“We were upset with ourselves, the way we were playing,'' Stick said. “But we're really resilient and were able to come back.''
After a 26-yard field goal by Logan Keitges put the Knights on top 20-7, Stick drew the Junior Jays within a touchdown on a 1-yard run shortly before halftime. Prep went ahead for good on its first possession of the third quarter when Stick hit Urzendowski with a 10-yard TD toss to cap a 73-yard march.
Southeast responded on its first drive of the second half, moving from its 20 to the Prep 10. But disaster struck on second down when Prep defensive back Nick Vipond intercepted a Luke Gifford pass near the Junior Jays' goal line.
Prep took over at its own 1, and Micah Rensch carried for 2 yards. That set up the 97-yard touchdown strike from Stick to Urzendowski, which actually looked like a fairly harmless play at the start.
After a Southeast defender gambled on an interception attempt, Urzendowski had room to run. He zipped down the Prep sideline, cut back across the field at the Knights' 35 and outraced everyone to the end zone.
“After I got past that first guy, I knew it was on,'' the wide receiver said. “It was tough getting in a hole the way we did, but we didn't quit.''
Prep extended its lead midway through the fourth quarter when senior linebacker Michael Emodi scooped up a Southeast fumble and rumbled 41 yards for the score. The Knights scored a late touchdown to draw within 35-27, but junior tight end John Marcotte recovered the ensuing onside kick and Prep had its victory.
“We made it a challenge tonight,'' Nizzi said. “I'm just happy to come out of here with a win.''
Southeast returns to action next Friday against Lincoln Southwest while Prep plays Friday night against Omaha Northwest.
Lincoln Southeast .................................. 10 10 0 7—27
Omaha Creighton Prep ............................ 0 14 14 7—35
LSE: FG Logan Keitges 22
LSE: Luke Gifford 1 run (Keitges kick)
LSE: Hunter Johnson 22 run (Keitges kick)
CP: RJ Urzendowski 81 pass from easton Stick (Peter Monahan kick)
LSE: FG Keitges 26
CP: Stick 1 run (Monahan kick)
CP: Urzendowski 10 pass from Stick (Monahan kick)
CP: Urzendowski 97 pass from Stick (Monahan kick)
CP: Michael Emodi 41 fumble return (Monahan kick)
LSE: Alex Agostine 3 run (Keitges kick)
Rushing: LSE, Luke Gifford 18-76, Hunter Johnson 17-115, Javier Fa’ali’l 6-18, Alex Agostine 1-3, Trey Beamon 1- (minus 1), Kwame Robinson 2- (minus 2). CP, Micah Rensch 22-103, Easton Stick 9-4, Blake Williams 1-2.
Passing: LSE, Gifford 13-27-1 157. CP, Stick 10-15-1 271.
Receiving: LSE, Beamon 6-71, Logan Beebe 3-30, Taylor Richards 1-15, BJ Day 1-15, Taylor Richards 1-21, Brady Blazek 1-5. CP, RJ Urzendowski 6-218, James Scott 4-53.
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• Video: See highlights from the game: