OTIS — Both the Otis-Bison High School and St. John football teams felt the difference that a safety can make on Friday night.
It was all that separated the two Central Prairie League teams as the Cougars won 22-20.
“It’s a win,” Otis-Bison head coach Travis Starr said. “Other than that, I don’t know. We had a lot of mistakes, and we just played one heck of a team. When it comes down to two points, it’s a tossup either way.”
The safety came between two Otis-Bison touchdowns in the second quarter, which ended with the Cougars ahead 16-6.
Tigers quarterback Spencer Nusser scored first in the opening quarter on a 7-yard run that capped a 38-yard drive.
St. John controlled the game early, but the Cougars were able to find some running room in the second quarter.
Otis-Bison running back Dylan Wissman, who finished with 173 yards and two touchdowns, scored on a 6-yard scramble, making it 8-6 with 49 seconds remaining in the half.
“That’s going to be the story of the year,” Starr said. “He’s going to be a workhorse for us. The more carries he gets, the better he gets and the better the offensive line gets.”
On the next play from scrimmage, Nusser got caught by Cougars defensive lineman Sam Higgason in the end zone for a safety.
Otis-Bison’s offense got good field position with 40 seconds remaining on the clock, and quarterback Kole Urban capped a 35-yard drive with a 1-yard dive into the end zone to give the Cougars a 16-6 advantage.
“If we could erase the last two minutes of that second quarter, that just killed us,” St. John head coach Nick Garcia said. “We’ve just got to not have silly mistakes.
“I’d like to say this is our first ball game, but it’s their first ball game, too. We’ve got to be accountable for what we did.”
St. John found some success throwing the ball against the Cougars defense in the second half.
Nusser, who completed 11 of 27 passes for 141 yards and two scores, found Dean Wade for a 17-yard touchdown, closing the gap to 16-14 after the two-point conversion. Wade finished with 80 yards.
“We’ve been working pretty hard trying to get him protected,” Garcia said of Nusser. “The last four or five years that we’ve been running the spread, we’ve seen every type of stunt, blitz and feint that you can think of. It’s a comfort thing as well. He’s got to be comfortable in the pocket, and that first half he was a little sketchy. But he settled in.”
Wissman broke out a 26-yard touchdown run to make it 22-14 with 7:46 remaining in the game.
Nusser completed another touchdown pass, this time to Omar Ramirez for a 3-yard score with 3:32 remaining.
With the score 22-20, Nusser tried to hit Ramirez on a fade route to convert for two points, but the ball fell just out of the receiver’s reach.
Otis-Bison hosts Central Plains next Friday night.
St. John travels to Victoria.
HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Central Prairie League
Otis-Bison 22, St. John 20
1 2 3 4 F
St. John 6 0 0 14 — 20
Otis-Bison 0 16 0 6 — 22
St. John — Spencer Nusser 7 run (pass failed), 3:18.
Otis-Bison — Dylan Wissman 6 run (Wissman run), :55.
Otis-Bison — Safety, :40.
Otis-Bison — Kole Urban 1 run (pass failed), :13.
St. John — Dean Wade 17 pass from Nusser (Ethan Long pass from Nusser), 10:26.
Otis-Bison — Wissman 26 run (run failed), 7:46.
St. John — Omar Ramirez 3 pass from Nusser (pass failed), 3:32.