OVERTON – A battle of the defenses ensued in the Class D2 semifinal game in Overton on Monday, Nov. 18. The low-scoring affair between the Overton Eagles and the Pleasanton Bulldogs went in favor of the ‘Dogs, 6-12.
The stadium was packed to the brim in Overton with stands full of fans and others nearly climbing the fences to get eyes on the field. The energy on both sides of the gridiron could power a small city as the teams took the field to decide who would go to the Class D2 State Championship game.
A win for Overton would take them to the championship game for the first time since the 2006 season, in Class D1, when they took a 32-8 win over Bancroft-Rosalie under the direction of Nebraska 8-man Hall of Famer Glen Snodgrass. Pleasanton, with a win, would take their first trip to the state final.
Overton kicked-off the Monday night game. Pleasanton took residence on their 24 yard line where they would begin their inaugural drive. The Eagles brick-walled the ‘Dogs, forcing them to fourth and eight when Pleasanton punted the ball down field.
Max Kulhanek recovered the ball for Overton and weaved his way to about the 20 yard line where Overton would begin their return drive. Overton pressed for five yards to a third and five at their 25 yards line when, almost as if to herald a locomotive movement for the Eagles, a train rumbled through town on the Union Pacific line. The ball was snapped, Johnson tossed the ball to Ryan Lauby on his right and Lauby breaks through the middle to carry the ball down field for a 55 yard touchdown run.
Overton led the Bulldogs, 6-0, just 3:07 into the first quarter with Ryan Lauby’s touchdown run, his 28th rushing touchdown of the season.
The remainder of the first half went scoreless and Overton took a 6-0 lead into halftime.
The second half went in favor of Pleasanton, largely aided by Overton mistakes. Plagued by penalties, the Eagles were fighting themselves in their offensive opportunities.
In their first drive of the second half, the Eagles gained two first downs before a holding call set them back with a first and 20. Ryan Lauby on the carry was taken down behind the line of scrimmage on the following play, taking the Eagles even farther from the end zone with a second and 24. A four-yard run for Overton brought them to third and 20 when a bad snap resulted in the Eagles’ quarterback Ryan Johnson getting sacked for a another loss. Overton faced a fourth down and 25 in their opening drive of the third quarter and were forced to punt.
A big turning point for Pleasanton came with the punt, as they put pressure on Kulhanek, blocking his punt and recovering on the Eagles’ two yard line. Overton’s defense rose to the occasion, forcing a turnover on downs from the two yard line.
Lauby made a push for the 17 yard line in the first play of the drive, gaining a first down for the Eagles. Overton with a first and 10, Johnson fumbled the ball and Pleasanton’s Jakson Keaschall recovered, taking the ball in for Pleasanton’s first touchdown. Overton stopped the conversion attempt, leaving the game in a 6-6 tie with 6:06 left in the third quarter.
Keaschall scored Pleasanton’s second touchdown in the fourth quarter after an Eagle turnover. Overton was able to stop the conversion, but the Bulldogs took the lead, 6-12.
Overton had one final opportunity to clinch a tie or a win with short time left on the clock. Pleasanton forced the Eagles to a fourth and two when Overton coach Paul Heusinkvelt called their final timeout. Johnson pitched to Lauby who gained the first down at the Pleasanton 33 yard line with 1:25 left in the game. The ball was pushed back to the 40 yard line after a holding call on Overton. Johnson scrambled a four yard gain to the 36 before throwing an interception with less than a minute left on the clock. The game clock ran down to a Pleasanton win to end Overton’s season, 6-12.
The Eagles end the 2019 season with a record of 8-4.
Congratulations to the Eagles on a successful season from the Lexington Clipper-Herald staff.