BELLEVUE — Jay Ducker answered the bell all night long Friday for top-ranked and undefeated Bellevue West.
The Thunderbirds (10-0) routed Lincoln East 42-0 in the first round of the Class A state football playoffs.
Ducker, a Northern Illinois commit, rushed for 231 yards on 20 carries and scored five touchdowns on the ground as the Thunderbirds scored 28 points in the second half.
“They established that run game, and it really opened up their offense,” East coach John Gingery said. “It just made it really tough for us.”
Bellevue West’s lone score in the first quarter came from Nebraska commit Zavier Betts on a 45-yard touchdown down the left sideline and over the Lincoln East secondary.
“Most teams don’t press us, because of how dangerous we are,” Betts said, “but when they did come out and press us I was super-happy. I saw the safety was more towards the middle of the field. I think he tried to pull my jersey, but he tripped and the rest is history.”
After that, East’s defense hunkered down and the Spartan offense, with the help of two pass interference calls, marched down inside the T-Bird 10.
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Nate Walters was also effective passing the ball on the Spartans’ drive. He ended the night going 18-for-32 for 135 yards.
But the Bellevue West defense stepped up at the goal line, getting a stop that shifted the momentum of the game.
“If we score there, maybe it’s a little different,” Gingery said. “We had opportunities, we just didn’t capitalize. They’re a great team.”
Bellevue West marched 92 yards after that, capping the drive with Ducker’s first touchdown of the game on a 3-yard run.
“It’s been really important to our football team not to give up points,” Thunderbird coach Michael Huffman said. “For years we’ve had a great offense and everyone wants to ridicule the defense.”
Huffman’s T-Birds have given up a mere 35 points all season.
The second half turned into the Jay Ducker show. The senior rushed for four touchdowns in the final two quarters to push Bellevue West out to a comfortable lead.
“He’s a great athlete,” Gingery said. “The kid has great instincts, he plays fast and he’s smart. He is very effective, but he is sure surrounded by a lot of talent.”
Bellevue West will face Omaha Burke in the state quarterfinals next Friday, while the Spartans’ season ended at 5-5.