Bulldogs hold off Cardinals after blocked extra point
     2011-09-15      By Terry Gaston   
Photo by Spectrum Photo: Gering's Dillon DeMott (#11) receives the football and prepares to eat yardage as Kyle Peters (#50) lends blocking assistance in this photo from the Gering vs Holdrege game on Sept. 2. 
To say the Gering Bulldogs escaped Chadron with a one-point win after committing six turnovers Friday night may be the understatement of the young football season – or ultimately for the entire season.
The bottom line, however, is that the Bulldogs thwarted Chadron’s game-tying extra-point kick and — as first-year and undefeated Gering coach Jimmie Rhodes said Sunday — they got on the bus and came home with a 14-13 victory.
“Their offensive line and defensive line were very physical,” Rhodes said of the Cardinals, who gained 188 total yards but yielded 368 yards to the Bulldogs. “
The Cardinals’ touchdown came after Gering, while trying to seal the victory and build on a 14-7 lead, lost possession after forging its way inside the Chadron 10-yard line.
The Cardinals answered by driving downfield on three quick plays, culminating the series with Colby Riesen’s 22-yard touchdown reception from T.D. Stein with five minutes left in the game. Stein had connected with Reeves for a 50-yard gain on the first play and Riesen ran 16 more yards before his TD catch.
Proving that no extra-point attempt is automatic, however, Gering senior Jesse Richard got his arm between Chadron kicker Wyatt Blome and the goal post.
“We just lined up and went in and got it,” Rhodes said of Richard’s successful block. “Coach (Rick) Kinnaman does a great job of getting those kids ready and into formation (after an opponent’s touchdown). Two or three guys got through (the line) and Jesse got his full arm on it.”
Chadron’s late touchdown came after the Bulldogs (3-0) committed their sixth turnover of the night with the goal line and a two-TD advantage within reach.
Except for the fact that sophomore quarterback Dillon DeMott and a running back missed their handoff connection, with Chadron pouncing on the loose ball at its own 12-yard line midway through the final quarter.
“We were excited but we need to take care of the football,” Rhodes said. “They had bobbled the snap and the quarterback and running back had a little miscommunication on the play and we got excited and in a little bit of a hurry. We had an interception inside the 20 and a couple fumbles on that side of the field.”
The Bulldogs scored both their touchdowns on 46-yard plays, the first on a pass from DeMott to senior split end Danny O’Boyle in the second quarter. The failed extra point left Gering ahead 6-0.
“Dillon saw something in the secondary and Danny saw it too, with a guy coming in late to cover Danny,” Rhodes said. “The line and running backs were in rush blocking and Dillon liked what he saw, stepped up and Danny cut in and made the play.
“For those guys to do that and play like that together, it’s starting to happen for us.”
Chadron took a 7-6 lead into halftime after Wade Reeves caught an 8-yard TD pass from Stein and Blome converted the PAT.
In the third quarter, Gering senior Mark Pieper gave the Bulldogs back the lead on his 46-yard rushing touchdown.
“We found some things working in our formation, and when it opened up he did some huge things,” Rhodes said of Pieper, who ran for 127 yards on 18 carries, with the vast majority of that yardage coming in the second half.
“Mark made one move, broke it and ran downfield. For him to finally get an open hold and show his speed was fun.”
DeMott finished the game by completing 12 of 20 passes for 180 yards, his TD pass to O’Boyle and one interception. Senior Zach Smith and O’Boyle had six receptions apiece, with Smith gaining 97 yards and O’Boyle netting 83 with his TD.
Defensively, Gering had seven quarterback sacks and two interceptions, one pick each by O’Boyle and Pieper. O’Boyle also ended the game with a pass break-up on which Rhodes said “he came out of nowhere” to make.
Senior Avery Petit had 10 total tackles (five solo, five assisted) with two tackles for lost yardage and one sack. Senior Dillon Wademan had four solo tackles and two assists with one tackle for loss and one pass break-up, while junior Austin Ferguson had four solos and one assist with two tackles for loss and one break-up.
For Chadron (1-2), Stein completed 8 of 13 passes for 129 yards. Reeves had five catches for 104 yards and his TD, and Riesen rushed for 42 yards on 11 carries with his score.
The Bulldogs will put their early unbeaten record on the line Friday at 6 p.m., when McCook brings its own 3-0 record to Memorial Stadium for the Bison’s third trip to the Panhandle in four games. After opening the season with a 28-7 win at Scottsbluff, McCook erased an early deficit at Alliance last Friday to leave Box Butte County with a 31-20 victory.
In spite of the turnovers, Rhodes said he cannot fault the Bulldogs’ effort.
“When you try to get extra yards, those things happen,” he said. “That is one of the things we have to keep working on to get better. Defensively, we were good enough to help us win it.”

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