YODER – A strong, steady west wind on Teeters Field Friday afternoon greeted the WyoPreps.com Coaches and Media top-ranked Southeast and third-ranked Niobrara County High School teams. Always circled on the calendar when the schedules come out at both schools, the 45th matchup was highly anticipated and packed with fans and alumni around the field.
The Cyclones used a 14 play, 80-yard drive to open the contest as Hayden Anderson pushed in for a 2-yard score. Ryan Clapper kicked the PAT and it was 7-0 just five minutes in.
The Tigers answered with their own 10 play, 65-yard drive when Jasper Caldera scored from three yards away. Drake Lamp gave NCHS the lead with his run, and a first period score of 8-7.
The home team came right back just minutes into the second as Anderson connected with Bodie Herring for a 36-yard touchdown pass. Clapper kicked the PAT, and the Cyclones led 14-8.
After the Tiger offense faltered and forced to punt, Anderson again scored from close range and Clapper nailed another PAT. As the clock neared halftime, Clapper attempted a 52-yard field goal, missing barely wide left with the scoreboard reading 21-8 for Southeast.
A steady diet of Caldera and Lamp carries helped the Tigers move downfield before Lamp capitalized. His 3-yard touchdown and conversion runs cut the lead to 21-16 midway through the third quarter. Once again, the Cyclones responded as Clapper broke loose for a 30-yard touchdown run, and another PAT. With one stanza left, the Cyclones led 28-16.
The Tiger offense was not the explosive force that had piled up 50 points per game in the first six contests. Having to grind for every yard and first down in an uphill fight, NCHS could not muster the will to overcome. Clapper wrapped the scoring with a 5-yard score and his fifth PAT to seal the conference title for the Cyclones in the 35-16 final score.
The Tigers wrap up the regular season Friday when Saratoga visits Gibson Field at Fullmer Stadium.
“They’re athletic and like to throw the ball around,” said head coach Ryan Nelson. “I hope we respond, because you don’t want to go into the playoffs on a losing note.”
Kickoff will be at 5 p.m. as NCHS prepares for a playoff run.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
NCHS 8 0 8 0 –16
SEHS 7 14 7 7 – 35
NCHS: Passing – 3 comp/7 attempts, 50 yds. Rushing – 52 attempts/257 yards. 16 first downs. 5 penalties/45 yards.
SEHS: Passing – 6/10, 112 yds. Rushing – 39/231. 18 first downs. 0 penalties.
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Passing – Kupke 3/7, 50 yards, INT. Rushing – Lamp 25/131, TD; Caldera 18/78, TD; Aiden Applegarth 5/48; Dylan Molzahn 3/9. Receiving – Applegarth 2 catches/33 yards; Aric Eaton 1/17. Defensive points – Molzahn 19; Dayne Lamp 18; Applegarth 18; Riley Blackburn 11; Mason Wells 5; Caldera 5; Jayce Cummins 4; Cody Taylor 2; Collin Taylor 2; Miles Ashurst 2.