Bearcats fend off late rally to remain unbeaten: Scottsbluff downs Northwest 23-21, plays Gering on Friday
     2012-10-05      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen
Bearcat senior Eric Moreno (No. 11) searches for an open player on Friday during the Scottsbluff Homecoming battle against Northwest at Bearcat Stadium. The Bearcats remain undefeated, with a score of 23-21 against Northwest.
 
SCOTTSBLUFF — Scottsbluff football coach Joe Benson said the Bearcats played great for three quarters in shutting down Grand Island Northwest’s potent spread offensive passing attack Friday night at Bearcat Stadium.

But maybe some homecoming plans entered the Bearcats’ minds with a two-touchdown lead, because the visiting Vikings stormed back and came up short because of two missed extra-point attempts.

And thus the Bearcats, ranked No. 2 in Class B by the Associated Press and Omaha World-Herald, improved to 6-0 by hanging on for the 23-21 victory heading into Friday’s Twin City archrival game at Gering.

“It was good to win,” said Benson, whose team had been outscored its first five opponents 147-28. “We’re not going to win all our games by two touchdowns. We expected a tight game and that’s what we got.”

The Bearcats faced Class B’s most potent quarterback in Northwest senior Zach Rouzee, who entered the game averaging more than 325 passing yards per game — and was coming off a 421-yard, Class B record-breaking performance in the Vikings’ 40-23 home win over Gering on Sept. 21.

“Their offense was different,” Benson said of the Vikings’ spread attack. “They dared you to stop the pass.”

Relatively speaking, the Bearcats stopped Rouzee by allowing him just 195 passing yards on just 18 of 43 completions. Scottsbluff also made two interceptions, the first by senior Matt D. Klein, who later left the game with a shoulder injury.

Klein’s pick, which gave the Bearcats their first possession at the Northwest 25. Bearcat senior quarterback Eric Moreno completed a 16-yard gain to senior Taylor Winkler, but the drive stalled and senior Randy Wentz put Scottsbluff on the board first with a 22-yard field goal.

On the Vikings’ first play from scrimmage after Wentz kicked his second touchback, Rouzee fumbled the ball and Bearcat senior Ty Dunkel pulled in the loose ball at the Vikings’ 20.

The Northwest defense then held Scottsbluff to no gain, and Wentz booted a 37-yard field goal to give the Bearcats a 6-0 lead midway through the first period.

Wentz then drilled the ball through the end zone again for his third touchback and starting the Vikings on the 20 again.

“Our kicking game was great,” Benson said. “Randy had three field goals and three touchbacks.”

Rouzee, who threw for 88 first-quarter yards, connected with senior Alec Waters that put Northwest ahead 7-6 with 4:32 left in the first quarter.

Wentz added his third field goal, a 21-yarder, with 6:50 left before halftime after the Bearcats had driven 35 yards to the 4 but stalled out again.

Scottsbluff finally found the end zone in the third quarter when senior Matt T. Klein ran for a 6-yard score. Klein added another touchdown on a 7-yard rush early in the fourth period for a 23-7 Bearcat lead.

But then Rouzee and Co. erupted when he completed a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior Alex Larsen with 6:53 remaining. Senior Kyle Bockmann ran in the 2-point conversion, pulling the Vikings to within 23-15.

Rouzee and Larsen the connected on a 30-yard score with 1:03 left in the game to put Northwest within two points. But Scottsbluff juniors Blake Wills and Bo Lofink snuffed out Bockmann on the 2-point try to preserve the Bearcats’ win.

“ We could have scored at least 40 but we kicked it around a lot and let them back into the game,” said Benson, whose team netted 306 total offensive yards. “The kids got tired. We won the first three quarters and they won the fourth.”

Klein finished with 148 yards and his two touchdowns on 31 carries, while Moreno completed 9 of 18 passes for 107 yards.


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