Grizzlies outlast Tigers, 21-14

Barb Rapp/For the Lusk Herald Dylan Molzahn stiff arms a Rocky Mountain defender during Friday’s 21-14 loss in Cowley.

COWLEY – After a long bus ride and light rain that began shortly before kickoff, the Tigers took the upper hand quickly.

Walker Kupke opened the game in a shotgun formation and found Aiden Applegarth downfield for a big gain, after he wrested the ball away from the Grizzly defender. Dylan Molzahn went for 27 yards and Kupke capitalized with a two-yard plunge. Applegarth was denied on the conversion but just 96 seconds in, Niobrara County High School was up.

The Tigers would come up short on their next series, the first of five trips inside the 25-yard line that ended scoreless. Lusk’s lead would hold until midway through the second, after another turnover on downs. Rocky’s Carsyn Weber found Kendrick Beckman and he went 55 yards to the endzone and Collin Haslem’s kick gave the Grizzlies the 7-6 lead.

NCHS moved the ball as halftime approached, but was denied again, this time on the 21-yard line. Coming out of the break was almost a repeat of the previous drive, as the Tigers faltered on the 25 this time. Rocky Mountain made the Tigers pay with an 82-yard touchdown pass from Weber to Haslem for the 13-6 lead. The kick attempt was no good as the game moved into the final quarter in a steady rain by then.

Dayne Lamp had another big defensive night, yet early in the fourth he carried the rock in for a 3-yard touchdown. Applegarth gave NCHS the 14-13 lead with his conversion run. A 10-minute defensive struggle between the now very familiar teams, finally snapped when Weber to Haslem for 22 yards put the home team ahead. The conversion was good, and Lusk had 2:25 to make a comeback. Unable to break a big play, the Tigers fell in defeat 21-14 in the non-conference game.

“We had opportunities early to put them away, we moved the ball well between the 20s, but it was inside we struggled,” head coach Ryan Nelson said. “We kept giving them life, and those big guys up front wore us down a bit.”

The Tigers host Southeast Friday for Senior Night with pregame to begin around 5:30 p.m.

“They are faster than Rocky Mountain, so we’ll have to adjust there, but if we can’t get up for this one after last year, that should be all the motivation we need,” Nelson added.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

NCHS 6 0 0 8 – 14

RMHS 0 7 6 8 – 21

TEAM STATS

NCHS: Passing 2/6, 28 yds; Rushing 52 atts/350 yds; 13 first downs; 3 penalties/30 yds.

RMHS: Passing 10/21, 196 yds; Rushing 26/89; 8 first downs; 2 penalties/10 yds.

NCHS PLAYER STATS: Passing- Kupke 2/6, 28 yds. Rushing- Molzahn 20 atts/176 yds; Applegarth 25/173; Lamp 1/3, TD; Kupke 6/ -2, TD. Receiving- Applegarth 1 catch 21 yds; Cummins 1/7. Defensive points- Lamp 22; Kupke 21; Molzahn 10; Riley Blackburn 7; Blake Miller 6; David West 5; Cody Taylor 3; Miles Ashurst 2; Cummins 1; Mason Wells 1.

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