Photo Credit: Eric Francis

Five Thoughts on Omaha Westside’s 41-34 Overtime Win Against Millard South

October 14, 2022

Omaha Westside made some big plays down the stretch to pull out a 41-34 win in overtime against Millard South on Senior Night at Phelps Field Thursday.

The Warriors marched down the field to convert the game-tying field goal with 24 seconds left, scored first in overtime then made a big defensive play to seal the victory and improve to 7-1.

Here are five thoughts on the game.

Keifer Called Game

Millard South won the coin toss to begin overtime and opted to start on defense (if you’re unfamiliar with high school overtime rules, each team gets a set of downs from he 10-yard line). The Patriots held the Warriors out of the end zone on their first two plays, but Westside scored on the third.

That meant Millard South needed a touchdown to extend the game. On first down, quarterback Camden Kozeal rolled out to his right and tried to fid his tight end near the pylon, but the receiver couldn’t come down with it. 

On second down, the Warriors flushed Kozeal from the pocket and he again rolled out to his right. Running out of time and space, Kozeal took a shot at the end zone for a receiver that he thought would be open, but senior safety Ty Keifer, who was hiding behind the intended receiver, jumped in front and intercepted the pass to seal the victory.

A lot of perseverance and hard work led up to that senior day moment for Keifer, who suffered a torn ACL at the tail end of his sophomore and and again as a junior after showing a lot of promise early in his career. He never got discouraged, continued to put the work in to make his way back and is now having a terrific senior season for a really good Westside squad. Keifer also had a couple of impressive pass break-ups earlier in the game, and now he’ll have a memory he can hold onto for a long time.

Killer Kozeal

Thursday was the third time I’ve seen Millard South this season, but the first with their starting quarterback. Kozeal, the Vanderbilt baseball commit, missed three weeks while helping win the USA Baseball U18 team to the gold medal at the World Cup in Sarasota, Florida.

Kozeal played in one game before departing for Florida, throwing for 307 yards and three touchdowns and running for 125 yards and one touchdown in a win over Millard West. The Patriots proceeded to lose their next three games without him.

Kozeal returned to lead the Patriots to three straight wins, averaging 218.7 yards through the air and 78.0 yards on the ground with 10 total touchdowns and no interceptions, though all three were against unranked opponents.

Thursday was Millard South’s first chance to measure itself against a championship contender with its starting quarterback, and although the Patriots didn’t get the win, they proved hey’ll be tough to deal with come the postseason.

Unofficially, Kozeal threw for 231 yards and a score and ran the ball 10 times for 51 yards and three touchdowns. He made some impressive throws down the field with four completions of 30 yards or more plus a 23-yard score to Jackson, and he also extended a few plays and made last-second throws to his tight end underneath for chain-moving gains. Perhaps his most impressive play of the day happened in the fourth quarter as he scrambled around in the backfield, evading at least four Warriors that had a chance to take him down for the sack before launching the ball downfield to Gavin Nunnally, who got knocked out at the 1. Soon after, Kozeal punched it in for a touchdown to take the lead with less than six minutes to play in the game.

Video Game Numbers

Westside has a lot of talented athletes, but the guy that makes that offense go is junior quarterback Anthony Rezac. Kozeal played a great game, but Rezac definitely won the battle of two of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the state.

Westside quarterback Anthony Rezac runs away from the Millard South defense during the Warriors’ win on senior night.
Photo by Eric Francis.

Unofficially, Rezac went 19-for-26 for 299 yards and two touchdowns and ran the ball 26 times for 182 yards and three more scores. The yardage totals set new season-highs and the five touchdowns matches the total he posted in last week’s win against Kearney. Rezac now has four games of 120-plus passing yards and 120-plus rushing yards this season. He’s leading the team in rushing and has totaled 19 touchdowns through eight games.

Rezac made two huge plays on the ground. First, after a holding penalty knocked the Warriors back to their own 11-yard line, Rezac dropped back, tucked the ball and took off, blasting through the defense then beating everyone to the end zone for an 89-yard touchdown that tied the game up at 14-all after the Patriots jumped out to a 14-0 lead. 

Second, on third-and-5 at the Patriot 35 with just under two minutes to play, Rezac took off on either a quarterback draw or a scramble for a gain of 27, putting the Warriors inside the 10 with just over a minute to play. The Millard South defense stiffened up and held Westside to a field goal for the tie, but Rezac went on to make the game-winning touchdown pass to junior Trevor Spady in overtime. 

Two-Way Impact

Kozeal’s return also allows Brock Murtaugh, who filled in at quarterback in week two before suffering an injury in week three, to move back to wide receiver on offense where he can replace the injured Austin Trotter as the team’s big-play threat.

Murtaugh had receptions of 34and 30 yards, both contested catches. He’s also a standout on defense and teamed up with Lance Rucker to force a fumble and get the ball back for the Patriots, preventing Westside from potentially stretching its lead to two scores midway through the fourth quarter.

Rucker, a North Dakota commit, also plays on both sides of the ball for the Patriots. In addition to the forced fumble, he recorded a sack, flushed Rezac from the pocket into the waiting arm of a teammate for another sack and caught two passes including a 6-yard touchdown.

Throw it Up

Remember those athletes I mentioned on Westside’s offense around Rezac? Thew showed up on Thursday too as the Warriors had two receivers hit the century mark.

Jaylen Lloyd, the track star from Omaha Central who transferred to Westside for his senior year, caught eight passes for 127 yards including a 14-yard touchdown. He also had receptions of 39 and 34 yards. He’s up to 635 yards and five touchdowns on 35 receptions this season, good fir sixth in Class A in receiving this year.

The other 100-yard receiver was Rezac’s twin brother, Teddy. He caught four passes for 106 yards, all in the second half. That included a 65-yard catch-and-run that set up a 12-yard rushing touchdown for his brother early in the second half. 

Rezac is a standout linebacker who moved back to safety and started playing more offense after the Warriors lost junior Caleb Benning to a collar bone injury against Bellevue West in week three, and he’s a weapon for the Warriors no matter what position he’s playing.

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