Blue Valley North entered Friday’s homecoming showdown having lost four straight against archrival Blue Valley Northwest.
The game was intense, as rivalries always are. The game was close, as rivalries often can be.
BV North walked off of the District Athletic Complex field with a 28-21 victory because it outmuscled the Huskies in those little moments that define games.
All those moments came in the second half, and all played into the victory.
Moment one: With the game tied 14-14 at the half, BV Northwest, 0-4, got the ball to start the third quarter and was driving. Points seemed inevitable until junior Mustang defensive back Keilon Hunter wrestled the ball away from BV Northwest receiver Cooper Trusdale. There were four hands on the ball when they went to the ground. Hunter had the most ball and was awarded the interception, which led directly to …
Moment two: Alex Blake’s go-ahead 59-yard touchdown catch, which gave the Mustangs, 3-1, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Blake ran underneath a rainbow pass from quarterback Joey Dolan on the left sideline but was eventually corralled by the ankle 20 yards short of the end zone.
Blake had three options: Go down; get plowed by the Northwest defense closing in or break free. Option three was the winner.
“I turned around expecting to get hammered, and nobody was there,” Blake said. “So it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m going to try to break free.’ That’s what I did.”
Dolan had his pick of receivers Friday, completing 16 of 20 passes to five different Mustangs for 320 yards and three touchdowns.
Blake was the big-play threat, catching four balls for 146 yards and two scores.
“If I’m ever in doubt, I just have to throw it up to (Blake),” Dolan said. “He’s a threat. He’ll go up and get anything no matter who he’s going up against.”
Blake’s second touchdown catch opened up a 14-point lead with 8:50 to play.
BV Northwest was swimming upstream all night. There were errant snaps, untimely injuries, miscues of various sorts.
That didn’t stop the Huskies from responding, driving 67 yards in six plays to cut the deficit to seven points. Most of the yards, including the final 42, came from the scrambling of quarterback Jack Knutson, who rumbled down the sideline to get BV Northwest back in the game.
The Huskies’ defense held on the ensuing drive, and BV Northwest got the ball at its own 20 with 2:55 left in the game and a chance to tie.
Both sides of the stadium came alive, but BV North wasted no time putting the game away.
Moment three: Knutson was scrambling to his right, running out of room, when he threw the football into a swarm of three players. BV North senior Carter Howes came out of the scrum with another interception that involved more wrestling than anything else.
Running back Cooper Lantefield, who finished with a workmanlike 139 yards in 28 carries, helped ice the game from there.
“It’s a great victory, we’re going to enjoy this one,” Mustangs coach Andy Sims said. “We showed tonight we can be a physical team if we need to be.”
All wins are worth celebrating, and BV North did so. The echoes of the postgame activities in the locker room could’ve been heard from the other side of the stadium.
“Northwest is our biggest rivals. We haven’t beat them since 2010. There was definitely a fire lit under us tonight,” Dolan said. “We wanted this one. It hasn’t been that much of a rivalry lately because they’ve been beating us, but we took pride in this game. This was a pride game.”
The pride showed in those three defining moments.