A stifling Creighton Prep defense shut down and shut out Class A’s most prolific offense in the second half on their way to a 25-16 win at Bellevue West’s Faiman Field.
Bellevue west led 16-15 at halftime, but could muster no points and very little offense after the break. The Thunderbirds turned the ball over on five of nine second-half possessions.
Bellevue West quarterback Joe Dolincheck, in what would be his final high school game, was hurried and hit all night long by an aggressive and motivated Creighton Prep defense. Dolincheck finished the night completing 19 of 41 passes for 227 yards and 1 touchdown. Dolincheck had thrown only five interceptions all season, but was picked off three times by Prep.
Dolincheck’s best series of the night was perhaps his first. He needed just two plays to find the end zone, the last a 14-yard hookup with Cedric Johnson, following James Radziunas’s opening kickoff return. The PAT was no good, making the score 6-0.
The Junior Jays’ offense, while not explosive, was effective when it needed to be. Prep drove nearly the length of the field on its opening possession, only to see leading rusher Luke Sims fumble at the 10-yard line.
After the defense held on a fourth-down try, the Prep offense resumed possession and used a fake punt to set up quarterback Sam Bonebrake’s 12-yard touchdown run. On Prep’s two-point try, Bonebrake scooped up the errant snap and found Sims in the corner of the end zone for the conversion.
Bonebrake, who began the season as the starting quarterback, had lost the job to sophomore Reid Burke in week two. Burke suffered a broken arm on the final play the Junior Jays’ first playoff game against Grand Island. It meant Bonebrake would return to the starting role he won in August.
The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter, with Bellevue West super soph Jeyvon Ducker dashing in from 36 yards out to put the Thunderbirds within two points. It came after Jackson Bartling carried in from 13 yards out on Prep’s first possession of the second frame.
A field goal by Daniel Campbell with 16 seconds remaining in the first half gave Bellevue West a 16-15 lead going into half.
The third quarter started with each team fumbling the ball away on their first play. Bartling coughed up the ball to start the third quarter, but Bellevue West’s wildcat play went awry and Ducker gave the ball right back to the Junior Jays. Prep’s offense could do nothing with the turnover and was forced to punt.
Dolincheck’s first interception would come on Bellevue West’s next possesion. Defensive end Tom Searl read the screen and tipped the pass into the air. Defensive tackle Jack Hasz came down with the ball for his first interception of the season. But again, the Prep offense would come away with no points, as Noah Strako missed a 40-yard field goal try.
The only touchdown of the second half came after a Bellevue West punt on the ensuing possession. Prep’s Bonebrake directed his offense downfield, punctuating the drive with a one-yard sneak for his second score of the game.
A fourth quarter field goal by Strako rounded out the scoring for Prep.
The Junior Jays (9-2) move on to face undefeated and top seeded Kearney in the state semifinals.