Bearcats tame Tigers in wild shootout
     2014-09-11      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen - Scottsbluff senior Tristan Donelson (No. 7) looks for an opening to run after he gets blocking help from Bearcat senior Stetson Anderson (No. 20) against Hastings junior Michael Collicott (Noi. 82) during Friday night’s game at Bearcat Stadium, a 49-34 victory for 2-0 Scottsbluff. 
SCOTTSBLUFF – Ten touchdowns, four coming on plays of 34 yards or longer, plus 28 first downs and 722 offensive yards.
And that came all before halftime of Scottsbluff’s eventual 49-34 victory Friday night over Hastings, which improved the Bearcats to 2-0 on the young season.

“Never been a part of anything like that,” Scottsbluff coach Joe Benson said. “Just back and forth and playing bad defense.”
And while the teams lit up the scoreboard in the first half, the Bearcats burned up the clock to start the second half.

The drizzly weather did not seem to hinder either team’s first-half offense. Scottsbluff focused on using its ground game to attack the visiting Tigers (1-1), who had shut out Gering 37-0 at home in their season opener Aug. 29.

The Bearcats rolled up 241 rushing yards and 86 through the air for 327 first-half yards, with senior quarterback Jackson Hinze completing 4 of 5 first-half passes with one touchdown and four rushes for 85 yards and two TDs.

“The guys up front work their butts off during practice, and in games they create all the holes for everyone that is running the ball and provide good protection,” Hinze said. “So we’ve got to give it up to them.”
Hastings, while using second-string sophomore quarterback Vinny Schmidt, who completed 19 of 26 first-half passes for a whopping 338 yards and three touchdowns.
The Tigers had 395 yards at halftime, but then Scottsbluff turned its offense into its best defense by opening the second half driving the ball 72 yards on 14 plays – with 13 rushes and an 11-yard pass play – and capped off the drive with junior Brad Johnston’s 5-yard run with 3:44 left in the third quarter.

Despite his finishing with 127 rushing yards and three TDs on 11 carries and 99 passing yards on 5 of 6 completions, Hinze said his night’s highlight was “easily, the eight-plus minute drive.”

“That’s what we want to do with our offense is grind it out. We want to get a first down every time, and just kind of work our way down the field. That was a great drive. That was a lot of fun.”
Johnston’s score was his third TD of the game and helped give him a game-high 131 rushing yards on 13 carries.
“That drive ended the game,” Benson said. “Once we scored on that, it was over.”
The drive also seemed to ignite the Bearcats’ defensive unit after it had been picked apart in the first half – a 24 minutes that far resembled Scottsbluff’s effort in its season-opening, 34-0 win over Lexington on Aug. 29.
The Tigers mustered just 63 yards in the second half and added five first downs to its 16 in the first half, but Schmidt was sacked three times by the Bearcats, twice in the fourth quarter.

Scottsbluff had seven sacks in all, led by senior Tristan Donelson’s three QB drops. Senior Andy Van Amburg had a pair of sacks, while seniors Sabian Harsh and Matthew Mickey had one apiece.
“We hadn’t played good defense the first two weeks,” Benson said. “We actually played better defense in the second half than we had in the first six quarters of the season. We just weren’t executing (in the first half).”
Hastings senior Philip Pedroza started the scoring barrage with a 34-yard TD run that followed a

25-yard first-down pass from Schmidt to junior Morgan Karloff – who had 11 receptions for the night for 246 yards and one TD.
Hastings scored two plays later, on pass completions to Karloff of 53 and 34 yards to give the Tigers a 21-7 lead with still 3:40 left in the first quarter.

But Hinze said the Bearcats were not panic-stricken in any way, and they proved so by first scoring on Johnston’s 17 yard run with 25 seconds left in the opening period, and tying the game on Hinze’s 9-yard rush to complete a five-play drive in the second quarter.
“It’s just the drive we all have and the trust we have in each other,” Hinze said of facing the adversity.
“We have that fire inside of us that is going to keep us battling back in games when we are behind and allow us to get ahead in games when we can. That mentality that we can find our way back in games kept us going.”

That score followed a 33-yard completion from Hinze to senior Ty Benson, who had his facemask yanked at the 18-yard line. The Bearcats thus had the ball at the Hastings 9 to set up Hinze’s run. Benson caught three of Hinze’s passes for 64 yards in leading the Bearcat receivers.
The Tigers needed just three plays to score again, including a 52-yard bomb from Schmidt to junior Sam Reimer to the Bearcat 7. Pedroza forced his way into the end zone on the next play but came up lame and was unable to kick the extra-point try. Sophomore substitute kicker Bailey Gragg just missed the PAT to the left, leaving Hastings ahead 27-21.
After a first-down holding penalty backed Scottsbluff to its own 16 on the ensuing series, Hinze picked up the slippery ball on the snap and utilized his blockers to run 84 yards for the Bearcats’ answering score. Hinze kicked the extra point, putting Scottsbluff ahead 28-27.

But that lead did not last long when the Tigers followed suit by scoring on a six play, 51-yard series to go back ahead, 34-28. Karloff caught a 5-yard pass for the TD and Pedroza returned to knock through the extra-point kick.

Three plays into Scottsbluff’s next drive, Johnston took off down the right sideline for a 46-yard TD rush with 3:39 remaining. Hinze’s extra-point kick put the Bearcats ahead 35-34.
Hastings looked like it was ready to continue its offensive prowess to close out the first half, but driving to the Scottsbluff 7. But an offensive pass interference penalty pushed the Tigers back to the Bearcat 22, and two incomplete passes by Schmidt left Hastings scoreless for just the second time in the half.
“That was big,” Coach Benson said of that defensive stop. “Then (in the second half), we put together a little blitz package and changed up our coverage, and I think that really confused them.”
After Hinze added an 11-yard touchdown with 10:07 left in the game, the Bearcats had all the scoring they needed. Scottsbluff junior Traceten Halley sealed the victory with in interception at the SHS 28 on Schmidt’s last pass attempt.
Scottsbluff will be at home again Friday, facing McCook in a 7 p.m. contest. The Bison, like Hastings, will come to Bearcat Stadium after having given up no points. McCook blanked Alliance 23-0 in its home opener and shut out Grand Island Northwest 45-0 on the road Friday.

Area football action

Scottsbluff was the lone winner Friday among the seven local-area teams, three of which were starting their seasons. Other stories on Gering’s 48-7 loss at Chadron and Minatare’s 27-22 loss to Bridgeview are included in this week’s Sports section.
Bayard, coming off a road victory Aug. 29 over Mitchell, was deadlocked with visiting Gibbon at 20-all after three quarters Friday before the visiting Buffaloes scored twice in the fourth period to take a 34-20 win home.
The Tigers (1-1) will be back at home Friday when they play host to the Cyclones of Southeast (1-1) from Yoder, Wyo.
Mitchell fell to 0-2 after its 56-18 loss at Gothenburg. The Tigers will be looking for their first win since 2012 when they entertain Kimball (1-1) on Friday, with kickoff at 7 p.m.
Morrill also fell to 0-2 after getting shut out at home Friday by Potter-Dix, 49-0. The Lions will try to use an open week to rebuild their strategies for the remainder of the season, with the next opponent Crawford on the road Sept. 19.
In a six-man season opener, Banner County trailed visiting Maywood by seven after three quarters but fell short to the Tigers 32-27 in Harrisburg. The Wildcats will be at Hayes Center on Friday.

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