Nebraska City used a pair of clutch special teams plays to grab a 12-7 season opening home win over the Auburn Bulldogs on Friday night.
Auburn took the initial lead of the game with an eight-yard touchdown pass at the 4:51 mark of the second quarter.
The Bulldogs led 7-0 at the half.
Nebraska City emerged from the halftime locker room and went on a 60-yard drive that consumed nearly eight minutes off the clock before Jay Sornson scored on a four-yard run. The point after was blocked and Auburn retained the lead at 7-6.
The Pioneers took the lead midway through the final quarter when Auburn tried to pin the Pioneers deep in their own end with a quick kick. The Bulldogs lined up as if they were going to go for it, but, upon taking the snap, the quarterback pitched it to his halfback who then attempted a kick.
That kick was blocked by Nebraska City's Logan Riege and Andrew Christiansen scooped up the loose ball and returned it 74 yards for a score. A point after run by Nebraska City failed and the Pioneers led 12-7 with 7:04 left to go in the game.
Another special teams play sealed the deal in the fourth quarter when Nebraska City punted and Auburn fumbled. For a moment, it appeared that Jake Pierce had scooped up the fumble and gone in for a touchdown, but flags were on the field and officials huddled to determine what the outcome of the play would be.
The officials ruled that Nebraska City was not allowed to return a muffed punt, thus wiping out the touchdown. As it relates to penalties, it was ruled that Auburn had committed a pre-fumble clipping infraction. Nebraska City was charged with a post change of possession clipping penalty.
Nebraska City declined to accept the penalty for Auburn's clipping violation. The clip against Nebraska City was enforced, but Nebraska City was allowed to retain possession.
With little time left on the clock and with Auburn out of timeouts, Nebraska City was able to run out the clock and secure its 12-7 win.