Scottsbluff knocked out
     2016-11-04      By Bonnie Fox   
Photo by Bonnie Fox/ for the Citizen Scottsbluff senior running back Max Mason (5) outpaces a Blair defense. Mason scored three TDs in the losing effort. 
Scottsbluff Bearcats ended their season with a tough loss to the Blair Bears, 35-38, in the first round of Class-B State Playoffs last Friday.

“It has been an awesome adventure with these guys,” said senior running back Max Mason. Home team support was evident all night. Hopes were high and the Bearcats played well. On their first possession, Scottsbluff produced a flawless 74-yard first series drive. A 24-yard pass to sophomore Garrett Nelson got the Cats revved up. Offensive balance showed with carries by Jasiya DeOllos, Braden Lofink, and QB Noah Bruner. Mason, having the honors, punched into the end zone for an early 7-0 lead.

Blair quickly answered with a TD of its own, launching a fierce aerial attack. The Bears QB Ethan Cox guided his team 70 yards on three pass plays. Home fans shrieked at a blocked extra point blocked by Isaac De Los Santos allowing Scottsbluff to hold serve, 7-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, Bearcat sophomore Keegan Reifschnieder’s 39-yard return gave favorable field position to Scottsbluff near midfield. Mason and Bruner marched the ball down the field. Helping Scottsbluff, Blair was called for a face mask penalty.

Bearcat sophomore running back Chris Busby scored a second TD for the hometown for the 14-6 first quarter lead. The Bearcat defense kept pressure on the Bears, forcing Blair to punt. During the Bearcats third offensive series, Bruner targeted Mason whose 66-yard reception put him into the end zone for Scottsbluff’s third TD. Blair blocked the extra point, 20-6.

The Bearcats also shined on defense. They cashed in for a TD by Busby after a Robbie Price interception. The Cats added a 2-point conversion for the 28-6 lead.

After halftime, Blair scored TDs on its next three possessions. Blair missed an extra point and failed on a 2-point conversion. Scottsbluff kept the advantage, 28-24.

The Bearcats lost key players to injuries in the first half, including Reifschnieder, Moore, and De Los Santos. At the end of the third quarter, Blair took the lead on yet another Bear TD, 31-28.

Scottsbluff seemed to pick up some momentum after a fumble recovery by Busby at the 22-yard line.

Bruner ran the ball on two plays, getting to the four-yard line. Mason waltzed in to give the lead back to the Bearcats, 35-31. With a little over two minutes left, Cox and a determined Blair team fought back. Their next drive put them into scoring position, prompting the crowd to roar. It was gut-check time for the defense. A Bears TD and extra point produced the final score, 35-38.

It was do-or-die time for the Bearcats. With 24 seconds on the clock, Bruner completed a 35-yard pass to Mason, and a 6-yard pass to Lofink. With the ball on the 28 and 2.3 seconds on the clock, an anxious crowd cheered on junior kicker Eli De Los Santos’ attempted field goal. He and the Bearcats fell short.

Scottsbluff ended their seventh consecutive trip to the playoffs at 8-2.

“We had a lot of contributors this season; there’s not much more we can ask from young guys stepping up and making plays when we needed it,” Mason said.

Mason finished the season with 1,758 rushing yards, 148 receiving yards, and 30 touchdowns.

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