Gering falls to McCook on the road
     2013-09-26      By Philip Eckerberg   
Photo by Nathan Flowers/Spectrum Photo Gering senior Gage Winkler (No. 4) plows through the Lexington defense during a Sept. 13 home game. The Bulldogs were on the road last week against McCook, and fell 34-7 against the Bison. 
The Gering Bulldog football team took a road trip to McCook to face the Bison last Friday. The trip was hard on them as they fell to the Bison 34-7. Gering won the opening toss and elected to receive. The ball was caught by Gage Smith at the 6 yard line and he ran in back to the 18. The starting quarterback was Austin Hoffman who opened the game with a handoff to Smith for four yards. Hoffman attempted a pass next and was sacked for an eight-yard loss. Facing third and 15, Gering attempted a pass and was incomplete. The Bulldogs were forced to punt the ball away after three and out. Smith punted to the McCook 37 yard line where the ball was downed and the Bison took over.

The Bison quickly picked up a first down and then decided to try a pass. The pass was intercepted by Gering’s Ryan Schwarztkopf and Gering was back in the ball game taking over at its own 29 yard line. Gering suffered its first penalty of the night with a false start and were backed up five yards. Two runs by Smith and a pass from Hoffman to Justin Brester resulted in a fourth and one. Coach Jimmie Rhodes decided to go for it. Hoffman ran a quarterback sneak and picked up a first down. Hoffman attempted a pass and was intercepted by the McCook’s Trevor Matson. Matson took advantage of the interception running it back for a pick six, touchdown Bison. The point after kick by Vince Lyons was good 7-0 Bison with 6:13 left in the first quarter.

The Dawgs’ Gage Smith received the kickoff at the 4 and ran it back to the 20. Runs by Joey Godinez and Smith, an offside penalty and a reception by Brester did not result in a first down and Gering had to punt. The first McCook play resulted in a first down. McCook soon faced its own fourth and short. The Bison went for it with a quarterback sneak and picked up the first down. The next play resulted in another first down for McCook at Gering’s 24 yard line. McCook’s Matson made the next run into the end zone with a good point after score was now 14-0 Bison with 45 seconds left in the first quarter.

Schwartzkopf received the kickoff at the two and returned it to the 13 and the Bulldogs faced a long field in front of them. Gering faced third and 14 when a Hoffman to Schwartzkopf pass resulted in a gain of 24 yards and moved Gering to the 47. A couple of Smith runs later and Gering picked up a first down. Gering received a five-yard penalty for offside and faced first and 15. A Hoffman to Brester pass and a Smith run resulted in another first down.

Hoffman attempted to pass again and was pressured and had to throw it away. A Smith run and another Brester pass reception found the Dawgs at first and goal to go. Hoffman was sacked for a loss and it was now second and 20. Smith tried to run and was tackled for a loss at the 23 of McCook. The Dawgs had to settle for a Smith field goal attempt and the Bison blocked the field goal and the McCook team took over on downs. McCook did not take very long to strike again as Matson soon rushed for a touchdown. The point after was good and the McCook Bison led 21-0 with 6:12 left in the half.

The ensuing kickoff was a touchback and Gering started at its own 20. Smith tried to run and was tackled for a loss, backing the Dawgs to their 11. McCook committed pass interference and gave Gering free 15 yards with three to go for a first down. Gering could not convert and had to punt the ball away. Smith getting the ball to the McCook 28 yard line.

McCook did not waste any time marching down the field with big plays by Matson. He capped it off with a two yard touchdown run for his fourth touchdown of the game point after was good 28-0 Bison with 2:03 to go in the half.

Schwartzkopf picked up the reception and ran it out to the Bulldog 22. Gering earned first down and took a timeout. A Hoffman pass to Brester earned a first down to the McCook 45. Hoffman to Elijah Timblin pass put Gering on the Bison 30. Hoffman threw another pass on fourth down to Schwartzkopf to the 24 yard line for another first down. Hoffman attempted a touchdown pass to Brester but it was incomplete. There was another touchdown pass attempt to Gage Winkler and it was also incomplete. Facing fourth down, the Bulldogs tried for a Gage Smith field goal but it missed and the half ended with Gering behind 28-0.

The Bison open the second half receiving the kickoff. Matson caught the ball and ran back to the 28 yard line. The Gering defense rallied and got their first stop of the night. McCook punted for the first time in the game and Gering took over on their 20. Gering took three and out and prepared to punt. Smith was back to punt and the snap was low. Smith scooped it up and tried to punt but it was blocked and McCook took over on the Bulldog 15. The Gering defense held McCook and the field goal unit came on the field for McCook. The kick was good and Bison led 31-0 with 6:10 left in the third quarter.

Schwartzkopf received the kick off and ran it out to his own 20 and Gering started yet another drive from deep in their own territory.
The injury bug struck Gering quarterbacks again as Hoffman went down on a helmet to helmet contact and Hoffman was pulled from the game and Matt Wolfe took over as quarterback. Gering was not able to move and had to punt. McCook took over on their 30.

McCook earned a first down and was aided by a Gering face mask penalty. McCook suffered a penalty of their own; however, they were able to recover and get a first down the next play. The McCook drive stalled and McCook settled for another field goal of 35 yards score now 34-0 McCook leading Gering with 5 seconds left in third quarter.

Schwartzkopf received the kickoff and ran it to the Dawgs 12 yard line. Matt Wolfe took over as quarterback as Hoffman was hurt and did not appear to be coming back into the game. Gering advanced on runs by Smith and Godinez and faced a fourth and inches. Gering went for it with a Wolfe quarterback sneak and made the first down.

Gering continued to bang away with runs from Smith and Godinez. A pass from Wolfe to Timblin led Gering to the McCook 25. Smith then made a 23 yard run to the 2 and the next play Smith ran it in for the Dawgs first score of the night. Smith made the point after and the score was 34-7 Bison with five minutes left in the game. There were no more scores in the game.

After the game Coach Jimmie Rhodes said “there were a lot of positive things that happened tonight, of course it is not good to lose our starting quarterback. Hats off to Matt Wolfe for leading the team. Coach Gross has a good football team here in McCook, they did some really good things, and they are tough as nails.”

Continuing, Rhodes said “We moved the ball all over the place tonight we just did not finish. We didn’t finish on offense, we didn’t finish on defense, and we didn’t finish on special teams. We need to go back to practice and fix these things, we didn’t get out hustled and we didn’t get out muscled, we didn’t finish what we are supposed to do and that’s a focus thing and we need to get that fixed.”

Rhodes refused to speculate on the condition of Austin Hoffman after being hit in the head in the third quarter.

Asked about the Gering touchdown drive at the end of the game, Rhodes said “The kids did a nice job, we were subbing trying to get guys in there to move the football. We need to come together as a team and show some pride, we can come back on Monday and get back to work.”

Gering will play Grand Island Northwest tomorrow at Memorial Stadium in Gering. GINW is 1-3 the same as Gering having beaten Hastings and lost to Sidney, McCook, and Lexington. The Bulldogs will be looking for their first home win of the year against the Vikings. Look for a likely 6 p.m. kickoff time.

Looking ahead to the Grand Island Northwest game, Rhodes said “Coach Kevin Stein is a good coach he has done some really good things in the passing game, they are a one back team and they run a little power play. They are well coached and they are going to be flying around ready to go. If Gering is going to have any chance at salvaging this season, tomorrow is the day to start as time is running out. We are at the half way point already. This is going to be a tough job with the injuries that have been suffered in key positions.”

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