The Bison could not overcome two key turnovers in the second half in the playoff battle at Weiland Field in McCook.
McCook quarterback Austin Cherry was tackled in the end zone for a safety as he tried to roll left after Norris had pinned the Bison deep on a punt in the fourth quarter. Two plays after the free kick, Norris back James Kruger ran 42 yards for a touchdown and a 26-14 advantage with 3:52 remaining.
McCook answered with a 62-yard scoring drive. Cherry hit wide receiver Cody Wudtke for a 15-yard gain on a key third down to keep the drive alive. Cherry later found Wudtke in the right corner of the end zone, as the senior receiver out-jumped Norris defender Trey Hair for the TD. Dakota Baumgartner's conversion kick pulled the Bison within 26-21 with 1:32 to go.
McCook almost executed the onside kick. The ball took a high bounce among the Norris receiving team members, but Norris covered the football. Quarterback Jakson Reetz ran 9 yards for a first down to ice the victory.
Norris drew first blood when Reetz ran 76 yards untouched on a option keeper late in the first quarter. The Titans fooled the Bison with an onside kick that was recovered by Reetz at the McCook 48. Norris drove deep in Bison territory, but the McCook defense held, and Norris settled for a 33-yard field goal by Ryan Bellinghausen and a 10-0 lead.
McCook answered quickly. Cherry used the pump fake and throw to get Wudtke wide open, and the Bison wideout eluded two Norris defenders after the catch to complete a 53-yard touchdown pass play. Baumgartner's PAT kick pulled McCook with 10-7. Norris took the 10-7 lead into halftime.
McCook struck quickly to start the second half. Cherry hit wideout Zayne Gillen over the middle, and Gillen carried the ball to the Norris 42 on a 37-yard pass play. Five plays later, Cherry rolled to his left, cut back and hit tight end Matt Collicott on a 14-yard scoring strike. Baumgartner converted the kick to put McCook ahead 14-10 just three minutes into the third quarter.
Norris answered with a 12-play, 76-yard TD drive capped by Kruger's 2-yard run. Bellinghausen's kick put the Titans ahead 17-14 with 2:36 to go in the third period.
McCook pushed the ball deep in Norris territory, but Cherry's pass was picked off by Reetz. Norris threatened to score again, but Javier Beltran stole a pass and returned the interception 8 yards to give McCook another chance with 9:39 left in the final quarter.
Cherry was hit as he rolled to his right trying to get rid of the football. The ball rolled loose, and officials ruled a fumble recovered by the Titans at their 37-yard line. McCook forced a punt, and Reetz line-drived the football near the McCook goal line, where Bryan Hood of Norris downed the ball at the 3-yard line.
Cherry was hit for a safety on the next play.
McCook, the seventh seed in the Class B playoff field, ends the season with a 7-3 record. The Bison had won seven straight games after starting the season 0-2.
Norris, 8-2 and seeded 10th, advances to the quarterfinals Friday, Nov. 2 against the Gretna-South Sioux City winner.