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Peru State's new coach got his first win in remarkable fashion

Peru State's new coach got his first win in remarkable fashion

Peru State

Peru State running back Ki'Jana Owens had a career-high 173 rushing yards against Baker last week, including 142 in the second half.

Peru State looked like a different team during the second half of last Saturday’s game, turning a 10-3 halftime deficit into a 30-17 win over previously unbeaten Central Methodist.

Coach Casey Creehan offered a simple explanation for the turnaround.

“Our execution wasn’t where it needed to be” in the first 1½ games, said Creehan, whose team lost its opener 41-2 before last weekend’s comeback. “In the second half, we just executed better.”

It’s understandable that it took the Bobcats time to get on the same page.

Creehan, who coached Lyon College in Arkansas last season, took over at Peru at the beginning of March — just ahead of COVID-19 shutting down campuses for the rest of the spring.

Peru’s first two scheduled games were postponed as quarantine situations made it even more challenging implementing a new offense.

“There’s nothing about this season that has been ordinary,” Creehan said.

Peru opened Sept. 26, but the Bobcats managed just 118 yards of offense in the blowout loss to Baker. They scored three first-half points against Central Methodist (2-1) before scoring the first 27 of the second half.

Joey Dominguez threw two touchdown passes in the first eight minutes and added a scoring run early in the fourth quarter. Running back Ki’Jana Owens then capped his huge second half with a 71-yard score.

Owens finished with a career-high 173 yards on 17 carries. The senior from North Platte hadn’t rushed for more than 56 yards in 26 career games at Peru; on Saturday he had 142 yards on 11 carries in the second half.

“He’s a really good back and has the potential for big plays. He’s on our leadership committee and is a team guy,” Creehan said. “When you play games, that’s when you find out about your team. We’re finding out about our kids every day.”

Creehan hopes he gets to watch his Bobcats play an entire season. With COVID forcing postponements of college games each week, he knows it continues to be a fluid situation.

“In football, you’re always concerned about football injuries. Now you throw this in there,” Creehan said. “It’s an uncertain season, and that’s the same for our opponents.”

Peru’s opponent Saturday is Benedictine, which played in the 2018 NAIA title game. The Ravens are 2-1, coming off a 41-7 loss to Grand View in which they committed six turnovers.

“They have a lot of seniors,” Creehan said. “When you have a lot of seniors, you have a chance to be good.”

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