LINCOLN — For a half, Exeter-Milligan was the better football team and had a state championship in its sight.
But Elgin/Pope John proved to be too much for the Timberwolves, rallying from 14-8 halftime deficit with 32 unanswered points to beat E-M 40-14 in the Class D-1 state championship game Monday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The win gave Elgin/Pope John its second straight state title and 26th consecutive win, while Exeter-Milligan finished the season 12-1 and earned the school's first runner-up finish.
"This was not the way we wanted it to end, but I thought the guys fought hard and they had a great year. That's something they'll reflect on when this settles down, but this is a tough loss for the guys," Exeter-Milligan coach Dean Filipi said. "I thought they fought hard, but we just didn't execute on defense or offense. Hats go off to (Elgin/Pope John), they played really hard and took us out of a lot of things."
The Timberwolves went into halftime leading Elgin/Pope John 14-8, but the Wolfpack came out of the locker room with a higher level of intensity and determination in the second half.