Gering puts Sidney to test Dogs hold lead until 4th Qtr. against playoff-bound Raiders
     2015-10-28      By The Gering Citizen    editor@geringcitizen.com
Sidney’s Hunter Secrest (36) is wrapped up by Gering sophomore defensive lineman Kenny Witcofski (63) in Gering’s final regular season game at Weymouth Field in Sidney. 
SIDNEY — First-year coach Todd Ekart opted to put a lot of new faces on the field Friday night when his Gering High football squad took on Sidney.

The gamble nearly paid off as the Bulldogs had playoff-bound Sidney on the ropes for most of the night.

Gering led at halftime and after three quarters before ultimately surrendering a touchdown with three minutes to play to lose its season-finale 13-9 at Weymouth Field.

“We prepared as well as we have all year,” said Ekart, who previously coached at Sidney for five seasons before taking over the Bulldogs’ program this year. “We started some different guys tonight and asked them to give us effort. They played their guts out and gave us all we could ask from them. I’m proud of how we competed tonight.”

The loss caps a 0-9 season for Gering and extended its losing streak to 22 games. The Bulldogs’ last win came against Grand Island Northwest on Sept. 27, 2013.

Meanwhile, the win propelled the Red Raiders into the Class B state tournament. They join fellow District B-8 squads Scottsbluff and Alliance in the playoffs, which begin on Friday.
Ekart said it felt a little strange being on the visitor’s sideline for Friday night’s game at Sidney.

“Once the game started though, things were pretty normal,” said Ekart, who received well-wishes from many Sidney players and their parents on the field following the game. “We played so well tonight. They just have a few more athletes than we do. That was the difference tonight.”

After a scoreless first quarter, the Red Raiders got on the scoreboard first when John Bramer found the end zone after a 35-yard run with 2 minutes, 58 seconds left in the first half. The touchdown capped a 12-play (all runs), 81-yard drive that spanned 5:07 on the clock. The point-after kick attempt failed and Sidney held a 6-0 lead.

Gering grabbed the momentum soon after, however. Though the Bulldogs’ offense sputtered on the next series, Skylar Mueller got off a 40-yard punt that pinned Sidney back at itsown 18 with 1:59 left until intermission.

The Red Raiders picked up one first down, but got bogged down with a 4th and 10 from their own 31 with 22 seconds remaining.
Sidney punter Jon Smith bobbled the snap and the Bulldogs’ Julian Corona scooped up the loose ball and sprinted 16 yards into the end zone for the touchdown. Chris Bartow added the PAT to give the Gering squad a 7-6 advantage – its first lead of the season.
Gering managed the only points of the third quarter – albeit a safety – following another stellar punt by Mueller.

Midway through the period, Mueller launched a punt 44 yards that was downed at the Sidney 1. Three plays later, defensive back Antonio Murillo tackled Sidney running back Derek Robb in the end zone after a bobbled toss that extended Gering’s advantage to 9-7 with 4:48 left in the third quarter.

The teams exchanged punts several times in the first part of the fourth quarter, but it was a costly kick-catch inference penalty after a Gering boot that helped put Sidney in a position to score the go-ahead touchdown.

Sidney used the free 15 yards to start its drive near midfield with 4:45 remaining in the contest. A 22-yard run by Robb on first down moved the ball to the Gering 29. After three more positive runs, the Red Raiders had the ball 1st and 10 at the 18 with a little more than 3 minutes to play.

Sidney quarterback Brady Radcliffe connected with Tyler Wintholz in the left corner of the end zone for an 18-yard scoring strike on the game’s next play. Arik Doty’s PAT gave the Red Raiders a 13-9 advantage.

Following the kickoff, Gering’s final drive of the night started at its own 21. The Bulldogs’ offense couldn’t muster much as they were forced to pass, and they turned the ball over on downs at their own 23 with 1:57 to play.

Sidney ran out the clock from there to secure the victory and a spot in the Class B playoffs.

“We were a super-young team this season,” Ekart said. “We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores. We told the kids to carry their hard work into wrestling, basketball and track and to continue to get better as athletes. Once we get our weight-training program going strong, we’ll be OK.”

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