Omaha Burke shut out Millard North in the second half, scoring 23 unanswered points, to win 43-21, in the first round of the Nebraska state playoffs. After a back-and-forth first half, the Bulldog defense completely stymied the Mustang rushing attack, holding them to just 86 yards after the break.
Burke quarterback Tyler Chadwick opened the scoring with a 34-yard pass to Xavier Watts in the first quarter. The touchdown came on the first play after Millard North fullback Noah Mick fumbled on the Mustangs first play from scrimmage. A mishandled snap on the PAT kept the score at 6-0 and looked to make the game interesting.
Near the end of the first quarter, the Mustang offense began to click. Following a 2-yard punt by Burke, Millard North took over at the Burke 29-yard line. Cade Elwood completed a key third-down pass to Noah Knoell to keep the drive alive before plunging in from a yard out for his 24th rushing touchdown of the season.
With the score 7-6, Chadwick put together a another scoring drive for the Bulldogs. Tight end Chris Hickman out jumped cornerback Chris Cavazos to secure Chadwick’s high lob and put the Bulldogs back on top 13-6.
On the next Millard North possession, Elwood would go to the air again. His 47-yard strike to Jadus Ellis put Millard North back in front 14-13.
But Burke would answer right back. Chadwick engineered a drive that featured wide receiver Darnel Davis and James Burks. An inside shovel pass to Davis moved the Bulldog offense to the two yard line, where Burks plowed in for the score with three minutes remaining in the half. Burks totaled 148 yards on 21 carries for the game.
Burke looked to be heading into the locker room with a 20-14 lead, but a late hit penalty on a 10-yard run by Mick gave life to Millard North. With just five seconds remaining in the half, Elwood found Knoell on a play-action pass from the four-yard line. It was Elwood’s second passing touchdown of the game and just his third of the season. He would finish with four completions on nine throws for 72 yards.
Millard North would not score again. The Burke defense, led by linebacker Nick Henrich, forced three punts and two turnovers on downs in the second half.
Player of the Game
Backup running back Gio Mainor was the offensive star for the Bulldogs. His touchdown runs of 42 and four yards over the final two quarters sealed the win for Burke. Mainor’s night ended with nine carries for 137 yards. Fullback Zach Tatem, on only his fifth carry of the season, added a touchdown in the third quarter to remove all doubt. A Gutierrez field goal in the fourth quarter capped the 23-point second half for the Bulldog offense.
Omaha Burke advances to the state quarterfinals for the second year in a row. They face the #2 seed Millard West on November 3.