Gering rallies but falls short in overtime against Lexington
     2013-09-23      By Philip Eckerberg   
Photo by Nathan Flowers/Spectrum Photo Gering ‘s Gage Smith (No. 3) breaks through a pocket of Lexington opponents with assistance from Bulldog teammate Justin Brester (No. 86) and Nate Ferryera and Ryan Schwartzkopf last Friday at Gering. The Bulldogs were slow to start but picked up their game in the third quarter and heading into overtime. It wasn’t enough to defeat Lexington, and the Bulldogs fell 23-20. 
The Gering Bulldogs football team started slow and made a furious comeback effort to tie in the fourth quarter, but lost in overtime against the Lexington Minutemen 23-20.

The story has been the same this season, rainy weather, and close games. Despite the all-day rain last Friday the Bulldog faithful made their way to Memorial Stadium by Gering Junior High School. The game was certainly exciting even if the outcome was disappointing for the fans.

Gering received to open the first half and punted after a few first downs. Lexington also went three and out and punted. Gage Winkler fielded the ball and had a great punt return to the Lexington 26. The Bulldogs could not move the needed 10 yards and went for it on fourth down but failed to move as the Minutemen took over on downs. Lexington punted again and the Dawgs followed with their own punt after three and out which brought the first quarter to an end.

Lexington opened the second quarter with a bang scoring the game’s first touchdown with 11:52 to go in the first half the extra point was good and the Minutemen led 7-0.

The Bulldogs received the kickoff but was three and out and the ball was punted away by Gage Smith. Lexington tried to make a trick pass play by handing off the ball running to the side and then passing it; however, Gering’s Joey Godinez was waiting and intercepted. It was all for naught as Gering made a great pass but is was fumbled by the receiver and Lexington took over at their own 22 yard line.

Lexington began another drive to the goal line aided by two Gering penalties that gave Lexington two first downs. The Minutemen got back into the end zone at 5:44 left in half extra point good 14-0 Lexington.

Gage Smith received the ball on the ensuing kickoff and ran back to the Bulldogs 36 yard line. A pass interference call against Lexington gave Gering a badly needed first down to keep the drive alive. Gering marched down to the Lexington 26 but the drive stalled and the field goal team was brought out. The field goal missed and Lexington took over on downs. Lexington wasted no time and marched into end zone for the third time that evening with 2:18 left in the first half. A missed extra point by Lexington would later prove to be critical as the Minutemen jumped to a 20-0 lead.

Brett Barge received the kickoff and made the run back. Gering quarterback Austin Hoffman connected a pass to Ryan Schwarzkopf for the first Gering touchdown of the night at 1:02 left in half. The extra point was good by Smith as Lexington went into the locker room with a 20-7 halftime lead.

Lexington received the second half opening kickoff and after a couple of 1st downs went for it on fourth down but the quarterback was sacked and Gering took over on downs at their own 45.Gering couldn’t advance and had to punt after three and out.

Gering held Lexington to three and out and Lexington made a short punt giving Gering good field position as they took over at their own 38. It was looking promising for Gering as Hoffman threw for the end zone; however, the Minutemen had other plans and intercepted in the end zone giving them a touchback and Lexington took over at their 20.

The fourth quarter started and Lexington did not move and had to punt. The punt went deep Gering took over about on their 15. Gering did not let the distance deter them passing and running down the field culminating in a touchdown pass Austin Hoffman to Justin Brester with 6:53 left in the game. The extra point was good and the score was now 20-14 Lexington.

The Bulldog fans were up and cheering as Gering completed a successful onside kick fumbled by Lexington and recovered by the Dawgs. Gering moved some but stalled on a failed fourth down.
Lexington couldn’t put together a successful drive and punted to Gering who took over on their own 40. The Bulldog offense rose to the occasion quickly with another Hoffman to Brester touchdown pass with 1:41 to go in the game. This celebration over the success was dampened at the extra point by Smith was missed and the score was tied at 20.

Lexington was forced to try and score; however a fumble in the back field was recovered by Gering and the Dawgs had another opportunity to finish the game. The Minutemen defense stepped up and held, forcing the Bulldogs to try and win with a field goal. From the stands the kick looked good and shouts of victory sounded but quickly died as the official indicated that the kick fell just short of the goal posts.

Regulation time ran out as Lexington took a knee and Gering entered its second overtime in as many weeks. Gering got the first possession in overtime and stated at the 10 yard line. Gering did not advance even a single yard and had to settle for a Smith field goal attempt. Lexington poured on the pressure and the kick missed wide.

The Minutemen went to work and although they advanced the Bulldog defense kept them out of the end zone. Lexington tried the field goal, finding the goal posts and ending the game with a 23-20 win for the Minutemen.

Gering Coach Jimmie Rhodes complimented Lexington for doing a good job and also his own team for “battling their tails off and playing out their expectations for themselves. I don’t think they quite know how good they really can be right now,” Rhodes said. “We had 95 plays in the game and it comes down to us having to make plays on more of those downs. We can’t miss field goals; we can’t not block guys; and Lexington gave us 10,000 opportunities tonight and we just got to take advantage of that.”

Rhodes said “at half time I told them to get their heads up and get their eyes up and just go play. They were flying around, we got stops, guys were getting first downs and we completed catches all over the yard.” Continuing, he said “This team has a great upside and we just have to makes the choices to push past discomfort and go and take it. Hoffman wants to win, Brester wants to win, Smith wants to win, the whole line wants to win. They were doing everything in their power to try and get down the field and win. If you put the ball in the hands of a couple of guys that want to win it’s lightning. ”

Gering is now 1-2 on the season and will be on the road tomorrow facing the McCook Bison in McCook. McCook, a perennial powerhouse, is 2-1 on the year, having lost to Aurora, then beating Scottsbluff and Grand Island Northwest. Rhodes said “Jeff (Gross) has a good football team and they will be excited and licking their chops for Gering to come to town. Everybody will be thinking that Gering is down, but they had better pay attention because we will get them. We are going to play physical, we will bow our neck and we’re going to get after coach Gross’s McCook team.”

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