AURORA — It’s a play in coach Kyle Peterson’s playbook that has ended in multiple touchdowns for one former Husky now playing for the Huskers.
Now it has Aurora back in the Class B state championship game.
Tight end Preston Ramaekers sneaked free on a drag route and hauled in a 19-yard go-ahead touchdown with 3 minutes, 2 seconds left to help lift No. 4 Aurora to a 21-17 come-from-behind win against No. 5 Omaha Skutt in the state football semifinals on a cold Friday night at Aurora High School.
The offense worked on the play all week in practice, Ramaekers said, and it came after the Huskies were beginning to wear down the SkyHawks with bruising junior running back Carlos Callazo.
“I didn’t really process it at first,” Ramaekers said of his score. “and then I felt my teammates coming up to me and that was just pure joy, really.”
It was pure joy as junior quarterback Drew Knust took one final knee to wrap up the Huskies’ second straight finals appearance. This one comes 10 weeks after the Huskies were dealt a 0-2 start.
But they didn’t lose confidence or lose focus on their “unfinished business” vision.
“This is a group of kids and a team and a community that believes in the process,” Peterson said. “They believe in coming to work every single day, coming to practice and getting better.”
The Huskies (10-2) dug themselves out of a hole and won nine straight games. They dug themselves out of a 17-7 hole Friday.
The SkyHawks, seeking their fifth Class B finals appearance in six years, marched down the field in 11 plays and nearly five minutes to open the third quarter and took a 17-7 lead on a Caden Becker QB sneak.
Aurora went the other way in 12 plays but came up empty after driving to the Skutt 8-yard line, and the SkyHawks (8-4), behind Becker’s arm and legs, took a 10-point lead into the final quarter.
“We never really put our heads down,” Ramaekers said. “We knew that if we competed like how we needed to, how we could, that we were never out of this game.”
Knust’s 47-yard connection with junior Carsen Staehr gave the Huskies a spark, and they pulled to within 17-14 on Callazo’s 11-yard score, his second of the game to go with his 44-yard TD in the first quarter.
Aurora went with a heavy dose of Callazo, who finished with nearly 200 yards on 30-plus carries, on its next offensive series. The 200-pound back got the ball on the three straight plays, and five more consecutive plays before the coaches called a pass play for Ramaekers, who got behind the safety and was wide open.
Former Husky tight end standout Austin Allen was in the crowd to see it.
“We’ve targeted Austin on some similar plays like that in the past,” Peterson said. “He’s caught a few touchdowns on that same play, honestly.”
Aurora lost to top-ranked Bennington 55-44 on Sept. 3 in Aurora to fall to 0-2. Peterson told his team after the game that if the Huskies improved, they might get another shot at the Badgers.
That shot will come on Nov. 22 at Memorial Stadium, only this time there is more on the line.
“I’m really happy for them to have earned this opportunity to go play in Lincoln, to play against a team that we played earlier in the year,” Peterson said. “We’re going to see how much we’ve grown. Have we grown enough? Have we gotten better enough to be more competitive in that game? We’ll find out.”