The North Platte Bulldogs controlled the second half Friday to defeat Millard West, 17-7, at Bauer Field.
Millard West (1-6) scored first on a five-yard touchdown run by Chase Hultman. But NPHS (5-2) got some momentum later in the first quarter when Kolten Tilford intercepted a Brody Peterson pass and returned it to the Millard West 16.
On the next play, quarterback Caleb Tonkinson dropped back and threw to Tate Janas in the left side of the end zone. Janas leaped and made the catch to tie the game at 7-7.
Neither team scored the rest of the first half and the score remained the same at halftime.
In the third quarter, the Wildcats moved the ball into Bulldog territory. But on fourth down and three from the 28, Peterson’s pass went incomplete.
That was when the Bulldogs started to get going. Jaylan Ruffin carried the ball to the Millard West 35 on a pitch to the right side. The drive stalled shortly thereafter but Jayden Dike booted a 40-yard field goal to give North Platte the lead.
Tilford then got his second turnover of the game when he recovered a Peterson fumble at the Wildcat 36. But on the next play, Tonkinson tried to throw to Ruffin just short of the end zone. But Kaden Williams wrestled the ball away and Millard West got the ball back.
But being backed up at their own three, they weren’t able to get anywhere and Ruffin returned their punt to the Wildcat 19. The Bulldogs appeared to be stopped again when Tilford was tackled short on third down. But a personal foul penalty by Millard West gave NPHS a new set of downs and on the first play of the fourth quarter, Cody Wright punched it in from two yards out to make it a two-possession game.
The Wildcats moved the ball into NPHS territory on their next possession. But on fourth down, Peterson was sacked by Matt Musselmann at the 38.
The Bulldogs got the ball just past midfield before being forced to punt and they pinned Millard West deep in their own territory again. The Wildcats still couldn’t get anything going and they had to punt from their own end zone.
North Platte kept the ball the rest of the game and clinched their first winning season since 2008.
Next, the Dawgs will play in the Class A playoffs. With the eight schools in the Omaha Public School system canceling their season due to COVID-19, the 24 remaining teams in Class A will qualify for the playoffs with the top eight seeds determined by a committee getting a first round bye.
NPHS is seeded No. 10 and they will host Lincoln High (1-4) in the first round on Oct. 23. If the Bulldogs get past the Links, they will play at No. 7 seed Lincoln East (6-2) in a rematch of the game from Oct. 9, in which the Spartans won 21-7.