LINGLE – For the first time since the 2015 season Niobrara County High School played a football game at Kirk Field in Lingle, and it certainly wasn’t a good start for the Tigers.
On Lusk’s first two possessions Dylan Molzahn coughed up the ball, and Walker Kupke tossed an interception.
Lingle-Fort Laramie’s Nolan Spears had his first of five touchdowns moments later when he broke loose for a 33-yard run. Molzahn got his hand on the point after touchdown, yet the Doggers lead wouldn’t last long. Aiden Applegarth matched Spears’ five scores, as his first one went for 59 yards, and Molzahn gave NCHS the 8-6 lead.
LFL moved the ball with little resistance, but Riley Blackburn fell on a loose one and Applegarth went 37 yards to pay dirt. Kupke and Mason Wells hooked up for the 16-6 first quarter lead.
Spears made Lusk pay for another turnover with his 1-yard score after a 96-yard drive that ate up over six minutes of the clock. Slade Hopkins got the Dogger within two on his conversion run. Another Lusk drive came up empty before Molzahn picked off a Spears pass to effectively end the first half with the Tigers clinging to a 16-14 lead.
Lusk muffed a punt return to give the home team a short field, but the defense held and Molzahn busted several tackles for a 52-yard touchdown. Applegarth got the conversion, and the Lusk lead was at 10 points. It only lasted 23 seconds as Spears went 71 yards to the endzone, and Elijah Hatch kicked the point after. With the Tigers leading 24-21, Applegarth turned in a 65-yard scamper. Kupke to Wells gave Lusk the 32-21 lead after three.
Applegarth’s 10-yard score to open the final stanza, was a sense of daylight before Spears turned on the jets again. This time he scored from 70 yards away, and Hatch’s kick pulled the Doggers back within 10.
As the Tigers began to work the clock, Applegarth scored his final touchdown with 2:33 left on a 59-yard run. His conversion capped a 29-carry, 436-yard performance to go with the five touchdowns. Spears scored his final one a minute later on a 31-yard run and finished it with the two-point run.
The Doggers recovered an onside kick, but Lusk avoided any more disasters or mistakes and won by the 46-36 score.
“All those turnovers take the ball out of our control and puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the defense,” head coach Ryan Nelson said. “There wasn’t much defense to be had from either side tonight.”
Wright visits Lusk this Friday for a 6 p.m. kickoff. The Panthers are coming off a 21-6 win over Moorcroft last week.
The junior varsity lost in Lingle 12-8 on Monday night.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
NCHS 16 0 16 14 – 46
LFL. 6 8 7 15 – 36
NCHS: Passing 0/3; Rushing 48 atts/594 yds; First Downs 13; 8 Penalties/75 yds; 6 Fumbles/ 5 lost
LFL: Passing 4/13, 69 yds; Rushing 49/283; First Downs 10; 5 Penalties/45 yds; 3 fumbles/2 lost
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Passing- Kupke 0/3. Rushing- Applegarth 29/436, 5 TDs; Molzahn 8/90, TD; Lamp 2/1; Kupke 1/3. Defensive points- Molzahn 39; Riley Blackburn 24; Lamp 23; David West 22; Blake Miller 21; Cody Taylor 13; Kupke 12; Miles Ashurst 11; Wells 11; Jayce Cummins 10; Applegarth 2; Jackson Smith 1.