|Bulldogs stopped by Huskies, weather|
|September 30, 2016 Frank Marquez|
Photo by Nathan Flowers/Spectrum Photo Huskies running back Presten Dibbern pushes through the Gering defense, with a teammate assist, while Gering senior Riley Grote fights against a tough Aurora O line.
Gering forfeited the game against the Aurora Huskies due to possible lightning strikes last Friday night as the Bulldogs (0-5) suffered their fifth loss of the season at home, 26-0, in playing less than one half of the game.
The Bulldogs continue to struggle on offense scoring only 12 points total through five games; two touchdowns came against McCook and Hastings in the second and third week, respectively. “Offensively we have to do a better job up front,” said Gering Head Coach Todd Ekart. “We need to get low and play behind our pads and get a push. We have not finished the blocks and our pad-level is way too high.”
Regarding flashes of brilliance, the Bulldogs afforded one in the first quarter when junior QB Tyler Pszanka connected with senior receiver Dalton Scott for a 17-yard pickup. The completed pass brought a deafening roar from the crowd, which approved of a Gering team showing signs of life. But just as lightning strikes, the moment passed just as quickly.
That happened during Gering’s first chance at scoring. Instead, Aurora struck first, capping a six-play drive with 6:37 to go in the first quarter for a TD in its first series. In Gering’s first try, Pszanka hit Scott for 17 yards, getting into Huskies’ territory. The Bulldogs failed to extend the drive. Two runs for zero yards, and an incomplete pass later, Gering punted. The Huskies, with the ball, moved quickly down field from their own 32. Senior QB Carter Thompson tossed a 19-yarder to senior wide receiver Presten Dibbern, his only reception on the night. The Huskies missed the point-after attempt for a 6-0 lead.
Aurora cashed in on its next drive as well, after Gering’s four-and-out effort that shaved only a minute off the clock. In six plays, matching its first drive, the Huskies hand-off to Cal Narber on short yardage from the 5-yard line, put Aurora up, 13-0.
On Gering’s next drive, sophomore running back Garrett Conn, during a breakout run, moved the ball from the Bulldogs’ 36 to the Aurora 34, where the drive sputtered. An incomplete pass on fourth down gave the ball back to the Huskies, who then moved it the length of the field to the Gering 11-yard line, where the Bulldogs’ defense held.
Unable to uncork the big play and capitalize on momentum, Gering punted to an already hyped Huskies team. A heavy wet ball traveled only 36 yards, where Dibbern put his jetpack on and returned the rock for Aurora’s third TD, and a 19-0 lead.
Aside from Conn’s performance, Ekart said, “We are really seeing a lot of good things from freshmen in practice and there are some sophomores that are really raising their level of play. We still have plenty of work to do in regard to player development, but we are seeing the younger kids picking up on techniques and they will really benefit from the off season training.”
According to Ekart, Gering’s record doesn’t influence playing time or with whether or not underclassmen get more game-time experience. “We are going to play the kids that give us the best chance to win,” he said. “We are constantly looking for kids that are going to do what they are coached to do, and play with great effort. I expect that to be seniors, but if it is underclassmen so be it.”
Gering squandered another drive before the lightning delay, while Aurora again covered short yardage after the punt. After only two plays, Thompson hit senior Alex Kubik on a screen pass up the left side, adding another TD for the Huskies, and a 26-0 final score. Ekart called his team off the field with the weather delay, and eventual game ending forfeit.
Gering’s offensive leader Pszanka was 2-of-4 for 24 yards passing. Conn led rushers with six carries for 32 yards. Scott’s 17-yard reception was the longest. On defense, Scott also had three solo tackles, and two assists. Otherwise, the Bulldogs’ defense was almost non-existent.
The Bulldogs face the Lexington Minutemen tonight, September 30, on the road just one of four games left on their schedule. Both teams are still looking for their first win of the season after suffering five lopsided losses. Having that in common, which team will get that first win? It may be Gering’s best chance before having to play rival Scottsbluff, Alliance and Sidney as a heavy underdog.
The Bearcats remain undefeated at the top of the B-8 District standings unless they stumble against the McCook Bison; they have the best chance of any team in the valley of making a deep run in the playoffs. Their first win against the Hastings Tigers, 21-13, might have been their only real test.
As for Gering’s mounting losses, and although they have improved on last season’s efforts, the rewards have been incremental. “We try to just go 1 and 0 every week,” Ekart said. “So we tell the players to learn from past mistakes, but don’t dwell on them. Good athletes are internally motivated and we stress that. If they want to be good, we will put them in position, but they have to do the work.”
Against Lexington, the Bulldogs may be shorthanded on defense. Ekart said linebacker Cody Ybarra, a leader in tackles, who injured his shoulder in the game against the Huskies, will be evaluated by a specialist to measure the extent of the injury.
As for defense, the Bulldogs will need to pick up on the slack in covering the edges. Breakout runs by their opponents have plagued them all season long. “I think it was more a lack of speed,” Ekart said. “We had guys in position, but could not seem to run anyone down. We need better pursuit to help with that.”
As for the keys to a possible win against Lexington, Ekart said it will take “energy and a competitive attitude.”
Other area prep scores:
L - Mitchell 14, Gordon-Rushville 46
L - Morrill 12, Sutherland 66
L – Bayard 14, Bridgeport 18
W - Minatare 68, Potter-Dix 35
L - Banner County 6, Hay Springs 53
W - Torrington 66, Riverton 49