To a player, the Kearney Bulldogs insist payback was never a topic of conversation this week. They said they had moved on from last year’s collapse against Platte County, during which they blew a 20-point halftime lead.
But then they were served with a cruel reminder.
After racing out to a two-touchdown lead Friday, Kearney watched as Platte County clawed its way back into the game, ready to swipe all the momentum heading into halftime.
This time, the Bulldogs grabbed it back.
Kearney defensive back Kale Harmon picked off a pass in the end zone, and the Bulldogs turned it into a touchdown on the final offensive play of the first half in a 44-22 victory against Platte County.
“We didn’t really talk about the way last year’s game ended the whole week,” Davis said. “But we were thinking about it. We wanted to come out and step on the gas.”
They certainly did — jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter behind two touchdown runs from quarterback Austin Hinck— but the Pirates fought back for a second straight year.
Platte County, 3-2, drove the ball into the red zone for a potential game-tying touchdown before Harmon intercepted Tyler Cooper’s pass with less than two minutes remaining in the opening half. Cooper finished 19 of 38 with three touchdowns and two interceptions — both to Harmon.
Kearney flipped each turnover into points. With five seconds to play in the first half, Hinck hit Zack Davis in stride for a 30-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 20-7 lead at the break. Davis caught eight passes for 120 yards.
“That’s a big momentum change,” Platte County coach Bill Utz said. “It wasn’t necessarily a killer to give up the score there, but the way we dealt with it in the second half, it turned out to be one.”
Kearney tailback Brock Broughton made sure of that. It was the least he could do.
With Kearney leading 14-0 and dominating on both sides of the ball, Broughton muffed a punt in the first half, which led to the Pirates’ first score — a nine-yard pass from Cooper to Matthew Barmann.
No worries. Broughton atoned for the mistake after halftime. He scored all three of his touchdowns — two on the ground and one on a reception from Hinck — in the first 14 minutes of the second half. He ran for 191 yards for the game.
“I just wanted to make up for it because I’m a very competitive person,” Broughton said. “If It’s my mistake, I make it hard on myself. I had to tell myself to calm down and go play my game.”
He found more running lanes after Kearney Hinck completed his first six passes against a Platte County defense intent on stopping the run. Hinck threw for 257 yards and a pair of scores and added two more rushing touchdowns.
“We have some great receivers, so if you overload the box on us, we showed what we’ll do,” Kearney coach Greg Jones said. “You have to pick your poison. That’s the kind of team we are.”