For the second time in three years, the NCHS football team entered the 1A state championship game in Laramie with an unbeaten record. And like the 2010 trip to War Memorial Stadium, the Tigers were denied in bringing the big hardware home.
Lusk had the ball first and took over six minutes off the clock before Grady Penfield fumbled the ball deep in Cyclone territory. Southeast recovered the ball but could not capitalize on it. After the teams traded punts, the Cyclones’ Zach Eisenbarth broke loose for the first of his four touchdowns. The 53 yard scamper right through the heart of the Tiger defense set the tone for the entire game. Garrett Bartel’s two point pass attempt was no good but SE had taken the lead. The score after the first period was 6-0 Cyclones.
Penfield redeemed himself on the next drive, as the Tigers marched 69 yards in 12 plays, with a four yard touchdown run with 7:20 to go in the first half. Bryce Sturman fumbled the two point snap, yet the game was tied at six.
Five plays into the next drive Eisenbarth broke through again, this time for a 36 yard touchdown run. He also carried the ball in for the two point conversion to increase the SE lead to 14-6.
Lusk’s offense, which had been averaging 280 yards on the ground, suddenly could not do anything productive. The three drives NCHS had in the period ended in an interception and a pair of punts. The final punt came with less than a minute to go and the Cyclones went 37 yards in four plays to move ahead. Bartell questionably got the ball across the goal line to push the lead to 20-6. The two point run was stopped but at the half, SE led 20-6.
Lusk gambled on the second half kickoff, as Travis Smith’s onside kick took a good hop and into the arms of Hunter Dockery. The gamble was quickly snuffed as Sturman’s pass went right to Bartell. SE moved the ball at will and Wyatt Somsen punctuated the 12 play, 66 yard drive with a 17 yard blast up the middle for the touchdown. Eisenbarth’s two point run was stopped but the Tigers were looking at a 26-6 deficit.
After another Tiger punt, SE moved at will again and Eisenbarth scored from two yards out. Travis Jinks kicked the point after to make it 33-6. The third quarter ended with another Tiger interception and the Cyclones made Lusk pay just seconds into the final frame. Eisenbarth scored his fourth touchdown, this time from 45 yards. Jinks kicked the point after and the rout was on at 40-6.
The rest of the game was scoreless as both coaches emptied their benches to allow everyone on the roster a chance to play on Jonah Field. Southeast (7-3) won the 2012 rematch and for the seventh time since 1995, the Tigers (10-1) are again left holding the state runner up trophy.
“They came out with everything we’ve seen from them, so it wasn’t the shock of anything new.” A disappointed head coach Matt VandeBossche had few words to describe the feeling of being so close, yet falling short again. “We just didn’t execute very well on defense, we didn’t tackle well, we didn’t flow to the ball and didn’t really react to being hit back very well.” I do know that they are not a 40-6 better football team than we are.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
SOUTHEAST 6 14 13 6 40
NCHS 0 6 0 0 6
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Passing- Sturman 4/9, 19 yds, 2 INT; H. Dockery 1/ 4, 0 yds; Matthew VandeBossche 1/1, 30 yds. Rushing- M. VandeBossche 11/40 yds; Penfield 8/30 yds, TD; H. Dockery 5/17 yds; Logan Lamar 4/16 yds; Derick VandeBossche 3/5 yds; Colter Larson 1/3 yds; Brady Thurston 1/ 2 yds. Receiving- D. VandeBossche 3/6 yds; Penfield 2/30 yds; Kevin Christianson 1/13 yds. Punting- M. VandeBossche 6/210 yds, 35 yds avg. Defensive points- Smith 20; Zane Hladky 19; Jordan Jackson 15; Larson 14; Craig Christianson 14; D. VandeBossche 13; M. VandeBossche 11; H. Dockery 11; Dakota Clark 8; Martin Fitzwater 2; K. Christianson 1, Penfield 1.
TEAM STATS: NCHS passing- 6/14, 49 yds; rushing- 36/113 yds; receiving- 6/49 yds; 7 First downs; 3 penalties/15 yds; 3 fumbles/1 lost.
SE passing- 2/4, 19 yds; rushing 47/368 yds; receiving 2/19 yds; 17 First downs; 3 penalties/20 yds; 2 fumbles/2 lost.
For the complete article see the 11-14-2012 issue.
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