North Platte turned in an encouraging performance against a traditional KCI Conference power, possibly injecting some confidence ahead of a huge rivalry matchup.
Andrew Hernandez, a sophomore, made his debut as starting quarterback, throwing for three touchdowns in a 37-26 loss to Lawson on Friday, Sept. 8 in Dearborn, Mo. The Panthers scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter after falling behind 37-8 through three quarters.
Lawson (2-2) won a second straight in KCI play behind 128 yards rushing and three touchdowns from running back Andrew Stevens.
North Platte (1-3) entered off a thrilling comeback win over Mid-Buchanan and closed to within 14-8 of the Cardinals in the first quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion run for senior running back Remington Wilson, who finished with 52 yards. Hernandez, who split time in previous games with senior Austin Snook, ran for a team-high 74 yards — 56 on one play — and went 11-for-22 passing for 231 yards.
Hernandez threw touchdown passes of 39 and 12 yards to senior Corbin Green plus a 53-yarder to senior Will Morse in the fourth quarter. North Platte failed on each of the 2-point tries while trying to cut more into the deficit.
Green caught five passes for 92 yards, while Morse had two catches for 91 yards.
North Platte dropped to 1-1 in KCI play but has a chance this week to eclipse last year’s conference win total of one. That lone win came in the annual rivalry game with West Platte after the Panthers reclaimed The Tobacco Stick traveling trophy in 2016, ending a 12-game losing streak in the series.
The most recent wins for North Platte against West Platte came in in 2006 and 2016, and the Panthers haven’t won two straight in the series since taking six straight from 1995-2000. West Platte leads the all-time series 46-21.
West Platte started the 12-game winning streak from 2007 to 2015 with a one-point win in 2007 then took the next 11 by double digits. The Bluejays won two games against North Platte in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
In addition to bragging rights and a conference win, the two teams will also be playing for position in the Class 1 District 7 standings.
West Platte (1-3) remains fourth despite losing three straight with help from a season-opening win against Class 3 Lincoln Prep. North Platte sits sixth with the same record.
The winner will take tiebreaker criteria, which can be an important factor in determining the final seeds in the eight-team bracket.