Papillion-La Vista dominated the stat sheet during the first half of Friday’s game against Omaha Burke.
But when the Monarchs went to the locker room at halftime, they found themselves trailing by six points on the scoreboard.
“It was frustrating, but it kind of built our confidence knowing that we could play with a team of that caliber and if we quit making mistakes, we’d be all right,” Papillion-La Vista coach Jeff Govier said.
It turned out all right for Papillion-La Vista as the 10th-ranked Monarchs shut out the fifth-ranked Bulldogs after halftime to pull out a 28-20 victory at Foundation Field.
Papillion-La Vista got two touchdown passes from Alec Ditoro to Jalen Allison in the second half, and its defense recovered a pair of fumbles deep in its own territory to upend Burke.
Ditoro led a Monarch offense that gained 510 yards and 27 first downs. Ditoro finished the night 22 of 30 for 336 yards and four touchdowns, including three to Allison. Ditoro also rushed for 66 yards, while running back Sean Van Briesen rushed for 100.
“We just focused this week on making the right reads and cutting out little mistakes,” Ditoro said. “We still made a couple of mistakes, but our defense came through and our offense put up points like it should.”
Burke was on the verge of stretching its lead to two touchdowns midway through the third quarter. With senior Trey Carr running effectively from the quarterback position, Burke drove to the Monarch 1. But on first-and-goal, Burke fumbled its handoff and Papillion recovered at its 3. Five plays later, Ditoro hit Allison on a 42-yard touchdown pass to make it a 21-20 game with 4:49 left in the third quarter.
After Burke’s Hayden Guy missed a 26-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, Carr looked like he gave Burke the lead when he went 74 yards on its next possession. But a block in the back was called at Papillion’s 15-yard line to negate the touchdown, and on the next play, Papillion’s Nick Lechtenberg recovered a Burke fumble at the Monarch 26.
Three plays later, Ditoro connected with Allison, who finished with eight catches for 192 yards, on a 69-yard scoring pass with 8:28 left. Burke’s offense didn’t get inside Papillion’s 35 the rest of the game.
“Too many mistakes. We had turnovers, too many penalties,” said Burke coach Paul Limongi, whose team had 11 penalties for 80 yards. “You can’t win when you make mistakes like that. If you’re going to match them score for score, you got to finish drives and we didn’t do that.”
Carr rushed for 183 yards on 13 carries as Burke finished with 335 yards. About all those yards came in the last 2½ quarters as Burke had six yards with four minutes left in the first half.
In fact, after Ditoro hit Reid Matthias with a 26-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7 with 4:04 left in the second quarter, the Monarchs had a 271-6 edge in total offense. Burke, though, scored twice in the final three minutes of the half to take the halftime lead.
Burke also scored the only touchdown in the first quarter when Josh Holcomb intercepted a Ditoro pass and raced 85 yards to the end zone. But early in the second quarter, Holcomb was injured on the Monarchs’ first touchdown play.
The game was delayed about 20 minutes as Holcomb was taken from the field on a stretcher and by ambulance to the hospital. Limongi said he wasn’t sure about Holcomb’s status and was going to see him after the game.
Omaha Burke (5-3) ............................ 7 13 0 0—20
Papillion-La Vista (5-3) ............................ 0 14 7 7—28
OB: Josh Holcomb 85 interception return (Hayden Guy kick)
PL: Jalen Allison 29 pass from Alec Ditoro (Gage Romans kick)
PL: Reid Matthias 26 pass from Ditoro (Romans kick)
OB: Trey Carr 26 run (Guy kick)
OB: Lim Puoch 12 pass from Carr (kick failed)
PL: Allison 42 pass from Ditoro (Romans kick)
PL: Allison 69 pass from Ditoro (Romans kick)
RUSHING: OB: Trey Carr 13-181, Logan Gier 15-70, Colton Hough 5-21, Alex Curbeam 4-2, Rodney Williams 2-1; PL: Sean Van Briesen 21-100, Alec Ditoro 17-66, Jalen Allison 2-8.
PASSING: OB: Carr 2-4-0 48, Curbeam 0-3-1 0; PL: Ditoro 22-30-1 336.
RECEIVING: OB: Austan Daniels 1-36, Lim Puoch 1-12; PL: Allison 8-192, Reid Matthias 8-102, Van Briesen 3-9, Jack Kalina 2-18, Lucas Hostetler 1-15.