Bearcats hang on to turn back Vikings
     2014-10-02      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen - Grand Island Northwest player Christian Ellsworth goes down with a team effort from Scottsbluff senior Bruno Flores and junior Brad Johnson. Bearcat team mates senior Levi Shope (No. 73) and senior Stetson Anderson (No. 20) eye the play while GINW opponents junior Colton Helgoth (No. 8), junior Dylan Davis (No. 73) and senior Noah Watson (No. 56) are too late for help. 
SCOTTSBLUFF – With Class B football district play starting next week, Scottsbluff coach Joe Benson said the Bearcats still have plenty on which they need to improve despite jumping out to a 4-1 record.

In their first three wins of the football season, the Scottsbluff Bearcats scored at least 35 points and had 49 in their home opener against Hastings on Sept. 5.

Friday night’s opponent at Bearcat Stadium, Grand Island Northwest, was coming off a 62- point, shutout win at home over winless Gering.
So while the offense was prevalent, with 932 combined offensive yards, and Scottsbluff weathered a second-half Vikings comeback to take a 45-40 victory, Benson felt the key for the Bearcats was shutting down the Northwest offense just enough to preserve the win.
“I just knew it was going to be a tight game, I didn’t know how it was going to turn out but I knew it was going to be close,” said Benson, whose team had a 42-28 halftime lead and added a 37-yard Jackson Hinze field goal early in the fourth quarter to take a 45-34 lead into the final 9:38.

Northwest drove 71 yards on the ensuing drive to the Scottsbluff 9-yard line. However, the Vikings got stopped on downs. After forcing a Scottsbluff punt, Northwest (3-2) scored on senior Ty Johnson’s 16-yard dart to draw the Vikings within five at 45-40. Johnson had scored in the third quarter as well, on an 8-yard rush.

With one more opportunity, Northwest had a first-down rush by Brown on fourth down nullified by a holding penalty. Bearcat junior Austin Clarkson had a tackle for 8 lost yards and a final QB sack of Brown to preserve Scottsbluff’s victory.

Scottsbluff made the first half a runaway, thanks to four touchdowns scored by Hinze.

The senior quarterback, who did not call the signals in the Bearcats’ 36-19 win at Adams Central on Sept. 19 with an injured knee, had a 56-yard touchdown pass to Ty Benson on a play-action fake.

Benson shook Northwest senior Taylor Willis, the Vikings’ last line of defense, at the GINW 20-yard line to run to daylight the rest of the way. Hinze’s extra-point kick knotted the score at 7-all with 6:11 left in the first quarter, and the offensive fun was just beginning.

Northwest junior Brook Brown scored his second TD of the quarter, a 3-yard run that put the Vikings ahead 14-7 with 2:57 remaining in the stanza. But the Bearcats followed with Ty Benson’s first-down, 80-yard rush with 2:10 left in the period to knot the score.
The first of the Bearcats’ big defensive plays came on Northwest’s first play afterward. Junior Traceten Halley picked off junior Christian Ellsworth, which had been tipped by Willis, and returned the ball 40 yards to the Scottsbluff 20 with 2:10 still left in the opening quarter.

Hinze faked a handoff and scurried the 20 yards for his first rushing TD, and his kick gave the Bearcats a 21-14 lead.
Scottsbluff posted an identical 21-14 run in the second quarter to grab hold of a 42-21 lead at halftime. Northwest opened the quarter with a 55-yard TD pass, completing a combined 28-point run in just 3:13.

Hinze completed the next drive, which featured his 56-yard scamper to the Northwest 20, with a 9-yard TD rush, giving the Bearcats a 35-21 advantage with 5:05 left in the first half.
That TD began another scoring flurry in which 21 points were scored in 56 seconds. Ellsworth completed a second-down, 70-yard pass to junior Colton Helgoth to put the Vikings at the Scottsbluff 1. And Ellsworth jumped into the end zone from a yard out with 4:24 remaining in the half.

But the Bearcats’ kick return team had an answer when senior Bruno Flores broke loose for a 95-yard score, putting Scottsbluff ahead 42-21 with 4:11 left before halftime.
Northwest closed out the half with Brown’s 1-yard touchdown run with 7.1 seconds remaining, a play that followed Johnson’s 52-yard pass competition to junior Bryce Williams to the Bearcat 15.

While Scottsbluff led 42-28 at intermission, Coach Benson said he and his staff told the Bearcats to be wary of the high-potent Vikings attack again in the second half.
“We just told them it was a 0-0 game and we needed to treat it as such, because we knew Grand Island Northwest had good players and we knew they were going to come up with a good plan, so we just needed to stick with what we were doing,” he said.

“I think the thing that makes them a lot better than they have been in the past is that their running game really sets up their passing game.”

Northwest finished with 282 passing yards among three players, who completed 17 of 31 passes with one interception. Willis had 108 receiving yards. The Vikings netted 221 rushing yards on 48 carries, led by Johnson’s 127 yards.

Scottsbluff had 288 rushing yards on 41 carries, led by Ty Benson’s 151 yards on 17 carries. Hinze – who completed 4 of 5 passes for 141 yards – ran nine times for 79 yards. Junior Brad Johnston added 42 yards on nine rushes.
Defensively for the Bearcats, junior Ben Heggem had a team-high 11 tackles (nine solo), while seniors Stetson Anderson (seven solo) and Donelson (six solo) had nine total tackles apiece. Halley and Johnston each had six solo stops.

”I thought the kids hung in there when things got tough,” Coach Benson said. “We made seven or eight stops on defense, so we actually played a little bit better on defense. I didn’t like the penalties (eight for 73 yards) and I didn’t like the turnovers (two fumbles lost and one interception).”

Scottsbluff will travel to Aurora on Friday. The Huskies held off McCook 20-19 at Aurora, dealing the Bison their first loss of the season. The Huskies (4-1) thus won their fourth straight game after falling in their season opener to Crete, 36-29 in overtime at Aurora.

Since its opening loss, Aurora has outscored its opponents 124-66.
“Everything goes through their quarterback. He’s not only a great passer but he’s a great runner. They have three really good receivers, they’re huge on the offensive and defensive lines, they’re well-coached and we’ll have our hands full,” Coach Benson said.

“We just need to continue to make strides in all three phases of our game and not get complacent with where we are.”

In other area action:

Minatare fell to 2-2 on the season with a 32-28 loss to Arthur County (3-1) in Arthur.
For the Indians, Tyler Koke completed three passes for 34 yards, including a 13-yard completion to Dominic Longoria for a touchdown. Yovan Perez led Minatare’s 178-yard rushing attack with 111 yards and one TD on 17 carries. Marc Cinocco added seven carries for 51 yards and one TD.

Defensively, Koke had two quarterback sacks for 8 yards and one caused fumble, which was recovered by Cinocco. Juan Garfio also had an interception for the Indians.

Minatare plays host to Banner County on Friday at 7 p.m. The Wildcats (1-3) lost to Hyannis (2-2) at Harrisburg, 38-20.
In Bayard, the visiting Kimball Longhorns (3-2) turned back the host Tigers, 44-29, after Bayard (2-3) had led 13-6 after one quarter.

Kimball scored 17 unanswered points in the second quarter.
For the Tigers, Jacob Hoff completed 17 of 35 passes for 165 yards and three touchdowns. His TD passes were to Tristan Hunter for 8 yards, Chandler Cox for 4 yards and Bryce Hargens for 11 yards. Hoff also ran for a one-yard touchdown, and Hunter led Bayard in rushing with 122 yards on 20 carries.

Bayard plays host to Hershey (2-3) on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
At Morrill, the host Lions fell for the fourth straight time with a 56-20 home loss to Dundy County-Stratton (2-2).
Morrill got 162 yards from Jorge Lara, who scored on rushes of 69 and 48 yards. Garrrett Zwiebel added 74 yards on 20 rushes with a 4-yard TD run. Jake Hoffman followed with 32 yards on 10 rushes.

Zwiebel also had a 48-yard touchdown pass completion to Josh Harvey. Zwiebel led the Lions defensively with 18 tackles, while Matt Hessler followed with 15 stops and Victor Valles made nine tackles.
The Lions face a yeoman’s order on Friday when they travel to Hemingford to face the 4-0 Bobcats.

At Gordon, Mitchell fell to 0-5 with a 60-35 loss to Gordon-Rushville (2-3).
Mitchell plays host to Chadron (4-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. Chadron had a 26-6 win over Ogallala (2-3).

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