Creighton wins game of winners
CREIGHTON — Creighton and Clearwater-Orchard butted heads here at Bill Harder Field Friday night in a battle of eight-man juggernauts.
Creighton eventually won the game, but there were no losers — other than the scoreboard — where the Bulldogs outlasted the Cyclones 50-44, as the contest will propel both teams down the road for the remainder of the season.
“This game was nuts, really wild” first-year Creighton head coach Zac Kliment said. “We knew they were going to be great and well coached. This was just a great game between to really good eight-man teams.”
The game included so many peaks and valleys and so many big plays. It was like a playoff game in August.
The final outcome was not determined until the final 52 seconds. and it came down to an onside kick, where the Bulldogs made the play to thwart the stubborn Cyclone comeback.
“I am so proud of our kids,” Clearwater-Orchard coach Jeff Shabram said. “My, we played our tails off, and this will make us so much better down the road.”
“We have had two really tough games to start the season,” Kliment said. “One thing we wanted to work on this year was playing a full four quarters. We’ve had to these first couple of games and we have responded.”
In the beginning, it looked like the Bulldogs would make short work of the Cyclones.
Creighton used exactly 59 seconds to take an 8-0 lead.
Brayden Zimmerer rambled 49 yards for a touchdown and after Bryce Zimmerer tacked on a two-point run it looked like the rout was on.
C-O turned the ball over on downs in its first possession and the Bulldogs were back in business.
Creighton used a sustained drive, mostly on the ground, culminate by a Bryce Zimmerer four-yard blast. The run failed on the extra point try, but the Bulldogs were up 14-0 with over seven minutes left in the first quarter.
It took the Cyclones one play and 12 seconds to respond.
Eli Macke grabbed the ensuing kickoff and ran through and around the Bulldogs for a 78-yard score to make it 14-6.
Chris Kester hit Clay Thiele on a conversion pass and it was 14-8.
Three minutes later, C-O was back in the end zone on a 38-yard pass play from Kester to Blake Hoke, and after a conversion run by Jacob Long, the Cyclones led 16-14.
“We knew if we stayed after what we do, we could play with Creighton,” Shabram said. “We needed to just stay after them and play our game.”
Bryce Zimmerer had other things in mind as he finished the opening half with a flourish running behind some good blocking and nifty moves.
He would score from four yards out, still in the opening 12 minutes, 35 yards to open the second frame and three yards with just over four minutes left before the half to make it 36-16 at the break.
“We seemed to have control a couple of different times tonight,” Kliment said. “But I knew they were far from out of it.”
Kester took off on a 14-yard score on a quarterback draw to pull the Cyclones back to within, 36-22 early in the third.
Both defenses stiffened for the remainder of the third before Bryce Zimmerer slashed in from the four to put the Bulldogs back up 42-22.
“We could have folded three or four times tonight,” Shabram said. “We didn’t. We really grew up tonight. We were down but we kept coming back at them.”
Kester would score on a one-yard run, and after the two-point run by Macke the score was 42-30 with 6:22 in the game.
The Cyclones tried the first of three onside kicks in the final period, but it didn’t work, and the Bulldogs were set up at midfield.
Bryce Zimmerer took it in from 36 yards out and Brayden tacked on the conversion run to put Creighton up 50-30 with 5:22 left.
And Clearwater-Orchard still wasn’t done.
“You have to give them credit,” Kliment said. “They just kept playing football.”
The Cyclones took the Creighton kickoff and went 45 yards in seven plays ending with Kester rolling in from the five to make it 50-36 with just over four minutes left in the contest.
C-O played the timeout game after another unsuccessful onside kick following the touchdown and forced the Bulldogs to turn the ball over on downs at the Cyclone’s 27 with 1:12 remaining.
After an incomplete pass on first down, Kester hit Hoke again who took the ball away from the Creighton defender and went on a 54-yard dash to pay dirt.
Sam Van Metre recovered the final onside kick for the Bulldogs and the 50-44 final was set.
“This was a game against two good teams,” Kliment said. “We just made one more play than they did – there are no losers here.”
C-O (1-1) 16 0 6 22 – 44
C (2-0) 22 14 0 14 – 50
C: Brayden Zimmerer 49 run, Bryce Zimmerer run, 11:01.
C: Bryce Zimmerer 4 run, run failed, 7:27.
C-O: Eli Macke 78 kickoff return, Clay Thiele pass from Chris Kester, 7:15.
C-O: Blake Hoke 38 pass from Kester, Jacob Long run, 4:00.
C: Bryce Zimmerer 4 run, Brayden Zimmerer run, 1:30.
C: Bryce Zimmerer 35 run, run failed, 11:04.
C: Bryce Zimmerer 3 run, Bryce Zimmerer run, 4:17.
C-O: Kester 14 run, pass failed, 11:13.
C: Bryce Zimmerer 4 run, run failed, 9:18.
C-O: Kester 1 run, Macke run, 6:22.
C: Bryce Zimmerer 36 run, Brayden Zimmerer run, 5:22.
C-O: Kester 5 run, pass failed, 4:07.
C-O: Hoke 54 pass from Kester, Macke run, :52.3.