McCOOK — It was the Rhett Jordon show on Friday night, from his 69-yard run on Waverly’s first play from scrimmage, to his interception with 15 seconds left in the game.
In between, the senior quarterback entertained by rushing for 297 yards and two touchdowns and throwing a 79-yard TD pass to Mason Nieman for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter to lead the seventh-ranked Vikings to a 36-30 win at No. 3 McCook in the quarterfinals of the Class B football playoffs before an estimated 2,500 spectators at Weiland Field.
“The kid can do just about anything,” said Waverly coach Tim Williams, whose 9-2 Vikings overcame a 20-7 first-quarter deficit to advance to a home semifinal meeting with No. 1 Omaha Skutt on Friday.
“When we got down, I was extremely pleased with how we bounced back,” Williams said. “At halftime, the kids were calm and confident and they were the same way when McCook got up 20-7 late in the first quarter. They were like ‘Don’t worry about it, we’ve got this.’"
Jordon, a 5-foot-10, 180-pounder, was quick to credit the offensive line — Trevor Brown and Sam Schneider at tackles, Logan Schuelke, Justis Priess and Jared Nielsen at guards, center Cade McKibben and tight ends Alex Murray and Sawyer Schroder -- for his individual performance.
“When they come out and are ready to go like they were tonight, we’re the best team in the state,” said Jordon, who led Waverly to 404 yards on the ground. “When our line, backs and receivers block like they did tonight, that’s not me. That’s the team.”
Jordon’s 69-yard run set up his first TD of 5 yards, but the Bison (9-2) responded by scoring on their next three possessions. After junior quarterback Cameryn Berry tied the game at 7-7 with a 5-yard TD run, Morgan Fawver caught two touchdown passes to seemingly put McCook in control.
The first was a 22-yarder from Berry in which he came back to the ball in front of the Waverly defender in the end zone. The second was a 50-yarder on a halfback pass from Alec Bunger with a minute left in the opening period.
Using a no-huddle offense, Waverly went 82 yards in 11 plays on its next series to cut the deficit to 20-14 with 9:57 left in the first half on a 5-yard run by Kaleb Canoyer, the first of his two TD runs.
After a 42-yard field goal by McCook’s Trae Koetter, Jordon’s second TD run of 2 yards brought the Vikings within 23-21 with 3:54 before intermission. Jordon, who had 219 yards rushing at halftime, got loose on a 68-yarder in that drive.
“Jordon was very tough to contain and Waverly had a good offensive game plan,” said McCook coach Jeff Gross, whose team missed a 31-yard field goal as time expired in first half after a 36-yard interception return by Berry with 22 seconds left. “They spread their offensive linemen out and those huge splits forced our linemen to make plays in the space. There was always room for their backs to run.”
Waverly took the lead early in the fourth quarter when Nieman snagged a pass in the right flat, slipped through several McCook tackles and took it up the sideline to the end zone. The Vikings then went 72 yards in 13 plays on their next possession to take a 36-23 lead with 4:11 left.
“That was all Mason. We have so many offensive threats on this team and he’s just one of them,” Jordon said. “I thought we started to wear them (McCook) down defensively in the fourth quarter going with the no-huddle, hurry-up.”
McCook’s Gabe Sehnert scored on a 1-yard run to produce the final score with 1:57 left. The Bison got as close as the Waverly 45 with their final possession before Jordon’s interception.