After taking the lead 57 seconds in, Elkhorn found itself trailing late in the third quarter.
The Class B No. 4 Antlers, however, cashed in a pivotal fumble recovery and a pair of Connor Hunt touchdown runs on their way to a 34-13 win over third-ranked Omaha Skutt on Friday.
“I really challenged our team coming off our loss at Gross last week,” Elkhorn coach Dan Feickert said. “They saw adversity throughout the week, and they saw it tonight, too. But I’m just really proud of the way they came back out after halftime and played four complete quarters.
“They hit us in the mouth a little bit but we were able to regain ourselves in the third quarter and came back out swinging.”
KJ Schenck gave the Antlers the early lead on a 69-yard touchdown run, weaving his way through the defenders front and down the open field. Schenck had 102 yards on nine carries in the first half.
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“We’ve been talking all year about how we haven’t had a big run yet,” Schenck said. “We hadn’t had anything pop and we’d been a shoestring tackle away, but we finally got one to pop there. Everything was rolling great and it was really big to get off to a good start.”
But the rest of the first-half offense came from the SkyHawks.
Wyatt Archer got Skutt on the board with 3:15 left in the opening quarter on a 25-yard touchdown run. Then quarterback Maccoy Holtam ran in from 1 yard out on the following drive, giving Skutt its first lead. The SkyHawks missed the extra point, but still led 13-7 — that lead would hold until the 10:16 mark of the third quarter.
From that point on, the Antlers scored 27 straight.
Hunt scampered into the end zone for his first touchdown of the night from 2 yards out. The Antlers pinned Skutt at its own 14 on the ensuing kickoff. Then came the play that shifted the momentum.
Elkhorn’s Andrew Salvatore recovered a fumbled pitch by Holtam, giving Elkhorn the ball at the 7.
“We knew it was gonna start with our defense getting a stop, and that was a game-changer,” Feickert said. “Our defense played really well in the third quarter, but we also knew we’ve got a really good quarterback. Especially running the football.
“So the second we had a chance to have him pull and keep one, we knew we wanted to. And (Hunt) made a play to get in.”
The Skutt defense stood tall on the first three plays, holding the Antlers at the 3-yard line. Then Hunt converted on a fourth-and-goal, putting the home side ahead 20-13 with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
“Our defense showed up in the second half and I had to do my part,” Hunt said. “I knew I just had to get in.”
Mason Villwok added a 2-yard touchdown run 4:39 into the final quarter. Villwok led Elkhorn down field and played a huge role in setting up Cooper Fedde’s 9-yard touchdown run, too.
Fedde’s run was another successful fourth-down conversion and came with 2:13 left in regulation to seal it.
“We’re a four-quarter team and we’re always ready to play,” Hunt said. “It’s a big win but we’ve got to keep going. We’ve got to take it day by day and next week is all we’re focusing on now.”
Skutt (2-2) is off next week as its contest against Omaha Buena Vista was forfeited. The SkyHawks return to action Sept. 29 at Lincoln Pius X. Elkhorn moved to 3-1 and will play at No. 1 Bennington next Friday.
Om. Skutt (2-2)......7 6 0 0—13
At Elkhorn (3-1).....7 0 13 14—34
E: KJ Schenck 69 run (kick good)
OS: Wyatt Archer 25 run (kick good)
OS: Maccoy Holtam 1 run (PAT failed)
E: Connor Hunt 2 run (kick good)
E: Connor Hunt 3 run (PAT failed)
E: Mason Villwok 2 run (kick good)
E: Cooper Fedde 9 run (kick good)