LUSK – Niobrara County High School put together their best first period of the season Friday on Gibson Field at Fullmer Stadium. Wright visited for the first time since 2018 on a beautiful night to usher in October, and it didn’t take long for them to realize they didn’t want to be here.
Dayne Lamp and the Tiger defense set the tone early as the junior had three solo bone crushing tackles to open the game. On the first offensive series Aiden Applegarth broke a 54-yard run to the endzone but the conversion pass was incomplete. The lead only lasted 12 seconds, as Grant Mills took the kickoff back for an 86-yard touchdown. Boe Preston kicked the point after and silenced the home crowd with a 7-6 lead just five minutes in.
Applegarth got the lead back for NCHS with his four-yard run and conversion a few moments later, shifting the momentum clearly back in the Tigers favor. Blake Miller pounced on a loose ball and Walker Kupke hit Mason Wells in stride for a 29-yard TD. The conversion was no good, but Lusk had put up 14 points in 14 seconds to end the period ahead 20-7.
The defense continued to stifle Wright, and Applegarth scored twice more on runs of 20 and 71, but Lusk again failed to get the conversions. Kupke scored from two yards as halftime approached and Dylan Molzahn ran in the two pointer for a 40-7 advantage.
Applegarth’s night was done midway through the third, as sophomore David West took over. Kupke capitalized on a long Tiger drive with a four-yard touchdown and again Molzahn busted through for two. As the final quarter wound down, West got loose for a 23-yard run as NCHS rolled to the 54-7 rout.
The defense surrendered just 33 yards offense and another 128 on special teams- 86 of those on the Panthers score.
“I was bit worried after that kickoff return, but then we refocused, and I don’t think they had a first down until the end,” said head coach Ryan Nelson. “Whatever they tried didn’t work, so yeah our defense played well.”
NCHS travels back to Cowley to face Rocky Mountain this week. The Tigers will make the 340-mile trek, after the teams traded wins at the other’s field last season. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
WRIGHT 7 0 0 0 – 7
NCHS 20 20 8 6 – 54
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Passing – Kupke 3/4, 55 yards, TD.
Rushing – Applegarth 24 attempts/299 yards, 4 TDs; West 14/93, TD; Molzahn 14/66; Jayce Cummins 3/22; Cody Taylor 1/7; Kupke 2/6, 2 TDs.
Receiving – Wells 1 catch/29 yards, TD; Applegarth 1/17; Cummins 1/9.
Defensive points – Lamp 18; Molzahn 14; Blake Miller 10; Taylor 6; Riley Blackburn 6; Miles Ashurst 5; Kupke 2; West 1; Wells 1.