Rocky Mountain hands NCHS first loss of 2020

Courtesy Barb Rapp/For the Herald Niobrara County’s Mason Wells (65) and Aiden Applegarth (80) drag down a Rocky Mountain ball carrier in Friday afternoon’s 62-50 loss.

LUSK – Temperatures were in the 80s Friday afternoon on Gibson Field at Fullmer Stadium as the Rocky Mountain Grizzlies made the 700-plus mile round trip. The non-conference matchup featured the Wyopreps Coaches and Media Poll numbers two and three teams in 9-man football.

It was anticipated to be a great game, but a track meet ensued as the teams put up a combined 112 points and 1,202 total yards.

The scoring came early and often by the visitors as Tyler Banks took the second play and went 61 yards for a touchdown. Austin Haslem kicked his first of eight point after touchdowns, before Zane Horrocks and Taylor Winland connected for 87 yards and a score for a 14-0 lead.

Drake Lamp had a difficult time finding lanes to run so fullback Jasper Caldera carried the load inside. He scored from 11 yards out, but Lamp was denied the conversion run as the period ended 14-6.

Horrocks scored from five yards away, yet Caldera answered with an 8-yard bulldozing run but was stopped on the conversion. Horrocks scored again minutes later on a 27-yard escape, yet Haslem missed his only kick attempt.

NCHS coughed up the ball after moving deep into Grizzly territory where they picked it up and flipped the field on the Tigers. Horrocks found Dawson May for a 20-yard score and Lusk was in a deep 34-12 hole at halftime.

An inspired Tiger squad battled to get back in the game as Lamp finally found some daylight. He scored twice from two and 12 yards away and converted both attempts in narrowing the gap to 34-28 with one stanza left.

Horrocks quieted the crowd just seconds into the fourth with a 24-yard pass to Trace Moss and Haslem’s kick made it 41-28. Dylan Molzahn eased Lamp’s load with a 4-yard score, followed by Drake’s conversion run as the Tigers closed within 41-36 with over eight minutes to play.

Rocky Mountain wasn’t having any sort of letdown as Carsyn Weber hit Banks for another long pass play.

The 69-yard score preceded another costly Tiger fumble and Moss went 37 yards to the endzone. Lamp answered with a 51-yard touchdown but was denied on the two-point conversion. It was getting to the point where NCHS couldn’t trade touchdowns with the Grizzlies, but Banks wasn’t done. He went 57 yards as they went over the 60-point scoring mark. Lamp had one more score as the clock marched towards its end. His 6-yard run was followed by Walker Kupke putting a pass in Mason Wells’ belly for the final points in the 62-50 defeat.

“Our defense didn’t match their intensity from the start, but if you take away the turnovers on downs and fumbles, we’re in a shootout,” NCHS head coach Ryan Nelson said. “But in the big scheme of things it’s not that big a deal. We still have at least one home playoff game and possibly two.”

NCHS faces a tall order to get back on the winning track this week with a trip to Teeters Memorial Field in Yoder on Friday.

The longtime archrival is 6-0 so far and a conference championship is up for grabs. Southeast has been ranked No. 1 all season and is a chance for the Tigers to avenge last years’ 26-24 loss.

“I told the guys if we come out ready to play it should be a good game, if not, it will be a long afternoon,” Nelson said.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

SCORE BY QUARTERS

RMHS 14 20 0 28  – 62

NCHS    6 6 16 22  – 50

TEAM STATS

RMHS: Passing 8/15, 282 yards. Rushing 29/276. 8 first downs. 3 penalties/25 yards.

NCHS: Passing 3/6, 51 yards. Rushing 67/509. 24 first downs. 4 penalties/25 yards. 2 fumbles lost.

NCHS PLAYER STATS: Passing Kupke 3/6, 51 yards. Rushing – Lamp 32 attempts/276 yds, 4 TD; Caldera 20/123, 2 TD; Molzahn 10/87, TD; Applegarth 4/29. Receiving – Eaton 2 catches/41 yards; Applegarth 1/10. Defensive points – Molzahn 18; Dayne Lamp 18; Wells 11; Caldera 9; Applegarth 9; Jayce Cummins 8; Riley Blackburn 5; Eaton 4; David West 2; Cody Taylor 1; Miles Ashurst 1.

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