WAVERLY — It was deja vu all over again for Omaha Skutt and Waverly football teams.
Their second game in just over a month played out in a similar fashion, as Skutt scored just before halftime to take the lead and then pulled away in the second half for a hard-fought victory over the Vikings.
A month ago, Skutt won 30-14, and on Friday night, Jarod Epperson scored a touchdown with 12 seconds left in the first half and then again just 50 seconds into the third quarter as the Skyhawks rolled to a 34-14 win in the Class B playoff semifinals.
“Things weren’t going right in the first half and we had to battle through some adversity that we weren’t really used to,” Skutt coach Matt Turman said. “We were thinking 0-0 at halftime we might be fortunate. That last touchdown really gave us a lot of momentum.”
After a scoreless opening 23 minutes, which featured a failed fourth-and-goal and two fumbles, Skutt finally got its offense going on its final possession of the half.
The Skyhawks got good field position at Waverly 45 following a facemask penalty on the punt return. The Skyhawks picked up a big first down on an 18-yard end around by Tyson Gordon. Then two plays later, Epperson hauled in a 20-yard touchdown reception in the waning moments of the first half.
On the third play of the second half, Epperson broke free for a 50-yard touchdown run.
“Jarod Epperson just makes plays,” Turman said. “That was a touchdown catch that was in between two guys and just jumped up and got it.”
Waverly looked poised to respond and marched down to the 5 by using on a rejuvenated passing offense. However, on the 15th play of the drive, Gordon intercepted a pass in the end zone.
That turnover along with a failed fake field goal attempt in the first half where the ball bounced off the receivers’ hands in the end zone, came back to haunt the Vikings, which ended the season 6-3.
“At the end of the first half, penalties put them in position to score and in the second half, we didn’t tackle very well,” Waverly coach Tim Williams said. “You can’t make that many mistakes against a team like Skutt,”
Skutt took advantage quickly by moving the ball 95-yard on four plays, which TJ Skradski capped off with a 50-yard touchdown reception.
The Vikings tried to stay close with a 50-yard touchdown (the third score from that distance) from Kaleb Canoyer. The senior running back appeared to be stopped after seven yards, but he fell onto the would-be tackler, spun off and ran free for the score.
Epperson, who finished with 218 rushing yards, added his third touchdown of the game to cap off the offensive explosion in the third quarter. The two teams combined for 27 points in the quarter after just seven in the first half.
Waverly senior quarterback Rhett Jordon scored the Vikings final score as he finished with 101 rushing yards and 166 through the air.
However, after that score, the Skutt offense took control again and put together a nine-play drive that took off almost five minutes from the game clock. McCormick capped off the night with a 24-yard bootleg for a touchdown.
Skutt will play Scottsbluff in the title game for its fifth appearance in the last six years. Turman is hoping for a different outcome after dropping the past two to rival Elkhorn South.
“Our kids really wanted this one and a chance to get back to Lincoln and see what happens again,” Turman said. “These guys have a chance to get a gold instead of a silver.”
OMAHA SKUTT 34, WAVERLY 14
OS--Epperson 20 pass from McCormick (White kick)
OS--Epperson 50 run (White kick)
OS--Skradski 50 pass from McCormick (White kick)
W--K. Canoyer 50 run (E Canoyer kick)
OS--Epperson 30 run (kick failed)
W--Jordon 1 run (E. Canoyer kick)
OS--McCormick 24 run (White kick)
RUSHING--Skutt, Epperson 23-218, McCormick 7-51, Legel 9-48, Gordon 1-18. Waverly, Jordon 23-101, K. Canoyer 10-73, Stoddard 2-5, E. Canoyer 1-1, Benes 1-1.
PASSING--Skutt, McCormick 5-8-0, 87. Waverly, Jordon 16-23-1, 166, Adams 0-1-0.
RECEIVING--Skutt, Legel 1-5, Gordon 1-5, Skradski 2-57, Epperson 1-20. Waverly, Murray 1-9, Weatherwax 2-15, Brown 1-8, Adams 5-23, Nieman 6-91, Schawang 1-10.