Bearcats outrush Bulldogs to win offensive slugfest: Speedy Alliance attack leaves Scottsbluff defense vulnerable
     2012-10-19      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen
Bearcat junior Andrew Aratani (No. 62), and teammate, senior Matt Klein (No. 9), work together to take down Holdrege junior Dakota Fulk (No. 8) during a Sept. 7 battle against the Dusters at Bearcat Stadium. The Bearcats remain undefeated after last week’s 49-33 road battle against the Alliance Bulldogs.
 
While a highly potent offensive attack has been a consistent factor in the Scottsbluff football team’s winning its first eight games this season, the Bearcats’ stellar defense has been equally rock solid.

But the Alliance Bulldogs provided quite a challenge to Scottsbluff’s defense, compiling more than double the yardage the Bearcats had allowed per game in their first seven contests.

Nearly 800 total offensive yards and another 211 return yards later, the Bearcats added to their undefeated record and finally broke loose from the explosive Bulldogs in the fourth quarter for a 49-33 victory at Bulldog Stadium.

“I thought we played great on offense,” Scottsbluff coach Joe Benson said Monday of the Bearcats’ 381 yards from scrimmage, anchored by senior Matt T. Klein’s 227 yards and three touchdowns.

“And we played great on special teams,” he added of his team’s 186 return yards that included a 48-yard punt return by senior Klein and a 79-yard kickoff return by senior Luke Worden for touchdowns in the third quarter.

Worden had four kick returns for 121 yards, and senior Randy Wentz was perfect on seven point-after-TD kicks while averaging nearly 50 yards per kickoff and forcing numerous touchbacks.

“Our defense,” Benson bluntly said after the Bearcats allowed Alliance 487 total offensive yards, although Wentz had an interception, “must improve.”

Scottsbluff entered the District B-8 game averaging 216 yards allowed per game, but Benson said the Bearcats may have not seen the team speed with which the Bulldogs behind senior quarterback Isaac Burnham and senior tailback Mitch Pancost attacked the SHS defense.

“Mostly, Alliance has great team speed,” Benson said. “They are one of the fastest teams we have seen, if not the fastest we will see all season.”

Scottsbluff outgained Alliance on the ground, 309 rushing yards to 214, but the Bulldogs’ total was nearly double that which the Bearcats’ defense had allowed in their first seven games.

And the 33 points Alliance scored was about one-third of the Bearcats’ scoring total of 96 points allowed this season.

Pancost led Alliance’s ground charge with 134 yards on 28 carries, while Burnham had 46 yards on 10 rushes. Burnam had 13 completions for 283 passing yards and three touchdowns, including an 80-yard scoring play by Pancost off a screen pass that gave the Bulldogs a 21-14, second-quarter lead.

Klein scored on Scottsbluff’s next series with a 59-yard rush that knotted the score at 21-all at halftime.

Klein and Worden’s touchdown returns helped give the Bearcats a 35-33 lead after three periods, and Scottsbluff sealed the hard-fought victory with two more scores in the fourth quarter.

Following Klein in rushing for the Bearcats was senior Tim Magdaleno, who added 40 yards on four carries. Worden had 23 yards on six rushes.

Senior quarterback Eric Moreno had 4 of 9 completions for 72 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown connection with Taylor Winkler that pulled Scottsbluff even with Alliance at 14-all in the second quarter.

Sidney is riding its first victory of the season into Bearcat Stadium on Friday night on the heels of a 257-yard, three-TD rushing attack by Logan Lewis in the Red Raiders’ 44-24 home rout of Gering.

Benson said plenty of defensive focus on stopping the rush in the teams’ regular-season finale was to be a key focus in practice this week.

“We need to stop Sidney’s running game to have a chance to win,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Despite their two district victories over Gering (4-4, 1-1 district) and Alliance (5-3, 1-1 district), the Bearcats are playoff bound but still have not clinched the District B-8 title. “The district is up for grabs,” Benson said.

Sidney (1-7, 1-1 district) has a chance to steal the district title if the Red Raiders can pull off the surprise against Scottsbluff on Friday at Bearcat Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

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