Bulldogs look to build on positives from road loss: Gering bitten by GI Northwest passing game but scores defensive TD
     2012-10-01      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Ken Kurtz/Spectrum Photo Gering senior James Guzman (No. 32) prepares to push through McCook defense, while senior teammate Jake Rexus (No. 2) gets ready for battle during a Sept. 14 home game against the Bison. The Bulldogs fell to Grand Island Northwest last week with a score of 40-23.  
By the time Gering football head coach Jimmie Rhodes had a chance to analyze the Bulldogs’ 40-23 Friday night loss at Grand Island Northwest, he said Sunday that the final score might not reflect the Bulldogs’ effort either for that game or in their first five contests.

“We had a lot of positive things that happened. A lot of kids got some good playing experience and we played good football,” Rhodes said Sunday night. “Both backs rushed for more than 100 yards.“
The harsh reality, but still something from which the 3-2 Bulldogs could learn?

“We turned the ball over five times and gave them short fields, and they had five big plays.”

Indeed, the Vikings (4-1) opened up the offense against Gering, and in the process Northwest quarterback Zach Rouzee threw for five touchdowns and a Class B record 421 yards. Three of those TDs were to senior Alex Larsen in the second half for 72 yards, then for 52 and finally for 52 again.

Rouzee’s longest touchdown pass came after Bulldog senior Jake Rexus alertedly grabbed Kyle Bockmann’s attempted option pass at the Gering 2 and went the distance to pull the Bulldogs to within 19-10.
“A 98-yard interception return for a D-lineman doesn’t happen every day,” a still excited Rhodes said.

The Vikings’ 19-3 halftime lead, which included a 7-yard TD pass from Rouzee to Bockmann in the first quarter and a 16-yard scoring strike to Austin Anderson in the second period might have been worse had Northwest not missed a half-ending field goal and some other opportunities.

Gering senior Branden Gabel ended Northwest’s first possession with an interception for the Bulldogs, but the Vikings regained possession when Larsen picked off Bulldog junior Dillon DeMott and returned the ball to near midfield.

The Vikings’ defense took any hopes of Gering’s gaining an effective aerial attack away before halftime. DeMott felt the pressure of the Vikings’ defense, completing only 2 of 11 passes for 29 yards with two interceptions.

“Some of our incompletions were throwaways,” Rhodes said. “We had two interceptions in the first half, and I just said we aren’t throwing it again.”

Northwest also took advantage of a Gering fumble deep in its own territory, setting up Rouzee’s TD toss to Anderson.

Bulldog junior Gage Smith, who had 16 carries for a team-leading 107 yards, helped put Gering on the board with a 32-yard field goal halfway through the second quarter.

Bockmann gave Northwest its 16-point halftime lead on a 1-yard run, after which the 2-point pass failed, and the Vikings missed a 32-yard field goal as time expired on the first 24 minutes.

After Rexus scored on his interception return, which cut the Vikings’ lead to nine, Rouzee and Larsen scored on the first of their long-bomb touchdowns for a 33-10 advantage .

DeMott gained one score back on a 2-yard run to cut Northwest’s lead to 33-16 early in the fourth quarter. Smith, however, had his first missed extra-point kick in eight attempts this season blocked.
Rouzee and Larsen connected on their second 52-yard scoring play for a 40-16 Viking advantage.

Then Gering senior James Guzman, who had 19 carries for 105 yards, ended the scoring with a touchdown of 10 yards that pulled the Bulldogs to within 17 for the final scoring margin.

DeMott’s touchdown run was part of six carries for 18 yards that attributed to the Bulldogs’ 236-yard rushing attack. DeMott’s two pass completions were to senior Austin Ferguson for 28 yards and junior Gage Winkler for 1 yard.

Although the loss was the second straight for Gering, Rhodes said he and the Bulldog players and assistant coaches have plenty for which they can approach Friday night’s home game against Hastings with optimism.

“We showed some speed but had some team blunders, and we can learn from those,” he said. “We weren’t necessary outplayed, we just weren’t ready.”

The Tigers, 44-0 losers to 5-0 Beatrice on Friday night, have gone 1-4 overall. Their only win was against Seward, a 48-41, triple-overtime shoot-out in the teams’ season opener.

“They haven’t been beaten by a team with a losing record,” Rhodes said of Hastings. All four of the Tigers’ losses have been to teams that are either 5-0 or 4-1, with the closest a 21-12 defeat to now 4-1 Alliance in the teams’ second game.

Hastings is being outscored 139-46, including 28-7 by Scottsbluff at home two weeks ago, but is a dangerous threat with its triple-option offensive package, Rhodes said.

“We’ll have to play assignment football and tackle the man with the football,” he said. “They play an old-school option and veer. We’ll just have to be ready to play.

“We’re still 3-2, we have a lot of momentum, it’s a home game and there a lot of positive things for us going in.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.

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