Gering falls to Hastings in tough season opener
     2014-09-04      By Philip Eckerberg   
Photo by Jim Headley - Gering ball carrier Joey Godinez looks to cut his way outside and past a pair of Hastings defenders, while Dylan Radzymski (No. 44) tries to fend off the Tiger attack in Friday night’s game at Hastings. The Tigers shut out the Bulldogs, 34-0. 
HASTINGS – The Gering Bulldogs fell 34-0 to the Hastings Tigers on the road in their season-opening game. Gering had to leave early in the morning and endure a long trip home after the loss to the Tigers.
Gering Coach Jimmie Rhodes said that with a young team and an inexperienced team, he has to find the positives that we had and build on them. “We have to be able to show the growth from week on to week two is what we are looking for,” he said. “We are going to move around some guys. Some young guys showed some really good signs of getting better. We need to take advantage of opportunities that are given to us.”

Gering opened receiving but went three and out before junior Brent Barge punted. Hastings made one first down but had to punt which was shut down before Gering took over. The Bulldogs punted again and this time Hastings capitalized on the opportunity, scoring a touchdown with 4:55 left in the first quarter. The extra point failed, leaving the score 6-0, Hastings.

The Bulldogs got the kick but was forced to punt again. Barge made it count, forcing Hastings back to their 6 yard line. The next play saw Gering hand Hastings a 5-yard loss, backing them up to the 1. Hastings clawed their way out of trouble, scoring again with 1:26 left in the first quarter. The next point was good, bringing the score to 13-0.

The Dawgs received the kickoff but had to rely on Barge to punt again. The Bulldog defense held them down, forcing a Hastings punt. Gering took the ball at their 21 and began to drive, marching a few inches from the goal line. The next play saw senior Joey Godinez find the end zone but a holding call cancelled the effort. Gering could not find the end zone again, turning it over on downs. Hastings ran the clock out for half time.

Gering kicked off to open the second half and held Hastings to 3 and out before Gering received the punt. Godinez made a good return but was called back for holding. Gering made a first down off a run by Godinez when a roughing the passer penalty gave Gering another first down. Gering couldn’t get traction and Barge lined up to punt again but it was a fake attempt. Barge tried to pass but the effort was incomplete. Hastings took over on downs and marched down for a touchdown. Gering blocked the point attempt with 6:18 left in the third quarter and a score of 19-0.

Gering took the kickoff and drove it down, ending with a fumble by junior Austin Hoffman, which saw a Hastings recovery. Hasting took made hay and scored again with a good 2-point conversion at 1:20 bringing the score to 27-0.

Hastings scored once more in the fourth quarter with a good point, creating a 34-0 lead. Junior Matt Wolfe made an interception to give the Bulldogs a bright spot at the end of a long game. The final score was 34-0 Hastings.

After the game, Rhodes praised Barge for his punting and said the kick return team did a good job, as well as the defense. “The whole game was not just one giant negative,” he said. “We had the emotional roller coaster of ups and downs that are typical in a competitive game. We need to learn how to have more up than down.”

The Dawgs will be on the road again tomorrow for a 7 p.m. contest in Chadron against the Cardinals. Chadron is relatively close by, you should consider making the trek north to cheer and encourage your team as they attempt to get the first win of the year.

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