WOLBACH — Overton continued its improbable run through the Class D2 state football playoffs Tuesday night.
With the temperature hovering around freezing, the Eagles lined up and ran straight at Central Valley’s defense. The Cougars had no solution to stopping the Eagles’ rushing attack, which accumulated 305 yards.
The Eagles defense also stepped up when needed, forcing three interceptions. The Eagles’ ground-and-pound offensive philosophy and opportunistic defense allowed them to upset the Cougars 22-14 in Wolbach to advance to Monday’s semifinals where they will meet Pleasanton, a 34-24 winner over Twin Loup.
“They just keep fighting every down, every play,” Overton coach Paul Heusinkvelt said. “They listen, they’re disciplined and that’s what won the ball game.”
The Eagles (8-3) appeared to be in control when the fourth quarter started. They led by 16 points and had the ball. But Overton’s third-and-12 play was well short of the first down and on the punt, the snap slipped through Max Kulhanek’s hands and back 23 yards to the Overton 4.
The Cougars scored two plays later when quarterback Ty Nekoliczak scrambled for a 4-yard score. His run for the 2-point conversion also was successful, cutting Overton’s lead to 22-14 with 11 minutes, 47 seconds left.
On the ensuing drive, the Eagles ran 14 plays to burn nearly seven minutes off the clock.
Nekoliczak tossed an interception on the Cougars’ next drive. After an Overton three-and-out, the Cougars had one more chance to even the score. They moved the ball into Overton territory, but Nekoliczak threw another errant pass. Kulhanek recorded his third interception of the game when he picked off Nekoliczak’s pass with 31 seconds left.
“Our defense was just doing what we’ve done all year long,” Heusinkvelt said. “They’re great, they listen, they’re disciplined, and they play disciplined defense, which led to turnovers, which led to us winning the game.”
Early in the game, neither team could string together a scoring drive. The Cougars scored early in the second quarter, but then the Eagles’ offense came to life, scoring on three consecutive drives.
Ryan Lauby plunged up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown for Overton’s first score. Elijah Heusinkvelt broke through the right side and dashed 48 yards for a touchdown less than three minutes later.
Lauby capped the scoring surge with 45 seconds left in the first half when he darted up the middle, bounced off one defensive player and broke a tackle to score on a 71-yard run.
“All those touchdowns we had were huge,” Coach Heusinkvelt said. “Elijah breaking that one out and then Lauby breaking that one out just showed we could do what we needed to do.”
The Eagles will play Pleasanton (9-2) in the Class D2 semifinals at 6 p.m. Monday in Overton for the right to go to Lincoln for the state championship game Nov. 25.
n Overton 22, Central Valley 14
Scores by Quarter
Overton (8-3) 0 22 0 0 — 22
Central Valley (10-1) 0 6 0 8 — 14
Central Valley — Morgan Behnk 3 run (Behnk run failed)
Overton — Ryan Lauby 1 run (Ryan Johnson run good)
Overton — Elijah Heusinkvelt 48 run (Johnson pass failed)
Overton — Lauby 71 run (Johnson run good)
Central Valley — Ty Nekoliczak 4 run (Nekoliczak run good)