LUSK – Niobrara County High School’s foray into 9-man football opened last Saturday on a sweltering 102-degree afternoon on the turf. Kelly Walsh brought a squad of sophomores and struggled from the outset.
“They were a little short-handed getting off the bus, but we’re happy to get a game in before conference play starts,” Tiger head coach Ryan Nelson said.
After the Trojan’s opening series resulted in a punt, Lusk used five plays to take advantage as Aiden Applegarth scored from 13-yards out. Walker Kupke kept the ball for the conversion as the Tigers led 8-0 with four minutes expired.
Dylan Molzahn covered up a fumble, and the Tigers took over deep in Kelly Walsh territory. Jasper Caldera went 11 yards to the endzone. Drake Lamp moved the score to 16-0 on the conversion.
As the quarter wound down, Lamp finally broke free for a 62-yard touchdown run. Kupke’s pass to Mason Wells upped the lead to 24-0.
In the second quarter, another visitors’ punt gave NCHS a short field, yet a Lamp touchdown was wiped away by a penalty. Jayce Cummins took the next handoff and went 51 yards before Kupke to Eaton’s conversion moved the score to 32-0.
Moments later KW’s punt snap went over the punter and out of the endzone for a safety, and the Tigers capitalized with Kupke’s toss to Wells for a 13-yard score. Lamp’s conversion had Lusk within three points of a running clock.
The Trojans answered as quarterback Paysen Larsen found paydirt from 22 yards away. He called his own number again for the conversion.
While the continuous clock would have to wait, Lamp made sure the second half would be a quick affair with a pair of touchdown runs (75 and 37 yards) entering halftime. Kupke to Eaton and a Colton Coffman run on the conversions made the score 58-8 at the break.
Cody Taylor rounded out the NCHS scoring with a 26-yard touchdown run four minutes into the third period, yet the conversion was denied by the Trojans.
The 64-8 final is the ninth highest scoring total for the Tigers in school history.
As the JV played out the second half, Nelson commented, “We’ve got some things to work on such as read and reacting to the ball, but we’ll watch some tape and get ready for Pine Bluffs.”
On Friday night, Lusk takes on the Hornets to open the conference schedule. The seniors will be honored before the 7 p.m. kickoff on Gibson Field at Fullmer Stadium.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
KWHS 0 8 0 0 – 8
NCHS 24 34 6 0 – 64
KWHS: Passing 0/2. Rushing 42/79. 5 first downs. 1 TO. 2 penalties/25 yds.
NCHS: Passing 1/ 2, 12 yds. Rushing 37/452. 9 first downs. 6 penalties/54 yds.
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Passing: Kupke 1/ 2, 12 yds. Rushing: Lamp 6/207, 3 TD; Collin Taylor 11/70; Cummins 2/62, TD; Applegarth 4/62, TD; Cody Taylor 4/31, TD; Caldera 3/22, TD; Coffman 4/3. Receiving: Wells 1/12, TD. Defensive points: Applegarth 18, Riley Blackburn 14, Dayne Lamp 14, Caldera 13, Molzahn 10, Coffman 5, Cummins 5, Cody Taylor 5, Collin Taylor 5, Miles Ashurst 5, Kupke 4, West 3, Justin Hite 3, Wells 3, Aric Eaton 2, Stanton Ricketts 2, Duston King 1.