It was evident Friday night that Omaha Skutt was led by Zeplin.
Senior Zach Zeplin caught one touchdown pass, threw for another and made several other big plays as the host SkyHawks defeated previously unbeaten Ralston 28-14.
“Zach is a do-it-all guy for us,” Skutt coach Matt Turman said. “He does a little bit of everything.”
That certainly fit the description of what Zeplin accomplished against the Rams. He caught a 28-yard TD pass, threw a 45-yard scoring pass, set up a third Skutt touchdown with a long kickoff return and ended Ralston's final drive with an interception.
“It was a fun game for us,” Zeplin said. “We knew they were coming in 7-0, so we wanted to make a statement.”
The game between two of the top teams in Class B — the 7-1 SkyHawks are ranked second and the 7-1 Rams are third — was played in front of an estimated 2,200 on a chilly night at Skutt.
Job No. 1 for the SkyHawks, who haven't lost since a season-opening setback against top-ranked Gretna, was to slow down Ralston running back Isaac Wallace. Class B's leading rusher, who averages 193 yards a game, was held to 124 yards on 22 carries.
“He's scary,” Turman said. “You hold your breath every time he touches the ball.”
Skutt scored on its first possession. The SkyHawks marched 52 yards in five plays and scored on a 28-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Creighton Koley to Zeplin.
The Rams tied it later in the period when Wallace busted loose for a 46-yard touchdown run. The 6-foot-2 senior started up the middle, juked a defensive back and then cut left down the sideline for the score.
The SkyHawks used some razzle-dazzle to go back on top in the opening minute of the second quarter. Zeplin came around from his wide receiver position on what appeared to be a reverse, but he pulled up and hit tight end Ryan Bouda in stride with a 45-yard TD toss.
“That pass was my favorite play tonight,” Zeplin said. “That was something we just put in this week.”
Turman said he couldn't take credit for the play, given to him by his father — longtime Wahoo Neumann coach Tim Turman.
“He used it against Wahoo last week and scored on it,” Matt said. “He showed it to me and we thought we'd give it a try.”
Skutt stretched its lead to two touchdowns late in the first half when running back Joe Dooley broke loose for an 18-yard scoring run. That capped a six-play, 80-yard drive highlighted by a 52-yard pass from Koley to Zeplin.
Zeplin started the second half on a positive note for the SkyHawks, returning the kickoff 51 yards to the Ralston 39. It took Skutt nine plays to punch it in, with running back Brett LaMontia going over from the 2.
Wallace had one more big play left for the Rams, though it wasn't a rush. He took a short pass from quarterback Josh Krzemien and took it down the sideline 68 yards for the touchdown.
But that score late in the third quarter was the last of the game. The Rams' two fourth-quarter possessions ended in interceptions — the first by linebacker Tyler Weis and the second by Zeplin.
“They had too many explosive plays, especially in the first half,” Rams coach Tyler Zahn said. “We didn't do a good job of controlling things.”
Koley finished 8 of 15 for 164 yards for the SkyHawks while Zeplin caught six passes for 147 yards.
“We knew they were a very physical team,” Turman said. “I was hoping our speed would offset that, and I think it did.”
The final word goes to Zeplin, who had the kind of game players dream about.
“We all really wanted to get this done,” he said. “It was a great team win for us.”
Skutt will close out the regular season next Friday night at Omaha Gross while the Rams will play at Omaha Roncalli.
Ralston ......................................... 7 0 7 0—14
At Omaha Skutt ............................ 7 14 7 0—28
OS: Zach Zeplin 28 pass from Creighton Koley (Mitch Swain kick)
R: Isaac Wallace 46 run (Diego Gutierrez kick)
OS: Ryan Bouda 45 pass from Zeplin (Swain kick)
OS: Joe Dooley 18 run (Swain kick)
OS: Brett LaMontia 2 run (Swain kick)
R: Wallace 68 pass from Josh Krzemien (Gutierrez kick)
Rushing: R, Isaac Wallace 22-124, Josh Krzemien 5-9, Sam Dannehl 2-11. OS, Brett LaMontia 12-46, Creighton Koley 13-20, Joe Dooley 9-41, Dakota Krejci-Smith 9-30, Isaiah Ramsey 1-22.
Passing: R, Krzemien 4-9-2 84. OS, Koley 8-15-0 164; Zeplin 1-1-0 45.
Receiving: R, Wallace 1-68, Joey Weber 3-16. OS, Zeplin 6-147, Ryan Bouda 2-55, Nathan Gradoville 1-7.