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B | WAVERLY 56, BEATRICE 7

'It just feels great to be out there': A full-time Murray helps Waverly overwhelm Beatrice in top-10 clash

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Beatrice vs. Waverly, 10.1

Beatrice's Jace Starkey gets gang-tackled during Friday's game against Waverly at Waverly High School.

WAVERLY — Cole Murray made the most of his first full game back after missing Weeks 3 and 4 with a lower leg injury.

Waverly’s senior quarterback was injured late in the Vikings’ second-week double-overtime loss at Omaha Skutt. He returned to play about half the game in a win over Mount Michael a week ago. On Friday, Murray looked like he hadn’t lost a step, accounting for five touchdowns in a 56-7 rout of previously unbeaten Class B No. 8 Beatrice at Viking Stadium.

“It just feels great to be out there doing what I love,” Murray said.

Murray led No. 5 Waverly (4-2) to touchdown drives on all five first-half possessions. He capped a 10-play, 69-yard march on the Vikings' opening drive, taking it in from 17 yards out. Murray accounted for 65 of the yards on the drive, with 59 coming on the ground.

“Our O-line made it easy for me,” Murray said. “They were staying on their blocks and all I had to do was read it. The credit goes to them.”

While the Waverly offense was humming along, a stout Vikings defense made life miserable for Beatrice and its power running game.

Deegan Nelson, who ran for over 250 yards in a win over Norris a week ago, was held to 43 yards on 12 carries. Thirty-five of those yards came over the final 20 minutes when the running clock had set in.

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Waverly coach Reed Manstedt credited his front seven defenders for wreaking havoc on the Orangemen's running game.

“Our front guys really set the tone up front,” Manstedt said. “They do a lot of work and make it a bit easier on our back-end guys.”

The Vikings also intercepted Beatrice quarterback Austin Burroughs twice in the first half. Junior linebacker Cooper Skrobecki and senior defensive tackle Wyatt Fanning each came up with key picks to thwart Beatrice drives.

Murray’s lone TD pass was to fellow senior Riley Marsh on a beautiful fade route from 11 yards out right before half.

“Riley’s my guy,” Murray said. “I know if I throw it up there, he’ll make a play on it.”

A pair of senior running backs — Garrett Jenkins and Eddie Johnson — ran for 101 and 69 yards, respectively, for Waverly. Junior Preston Harms added 70 yards and touchdown.

Manstedt was undoubtedly pleased to see his senior quarterback back on the field, healthy and making plays.

“I’m just really happy for Cole,” Manstedt said. “This was basically his first full game back from injury, and he hit the ground running … literally. It was good to see.”

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