SARATOGA – For the first time in 13 years Niobrara County High School went to Saratoga for football last Friday evening. Facing a team with nothing to play for, the Tigers (fresh off a 232-mile bus ride) took a bit to get the offense going. Dayne Lamp had Lusk’s first score after a 13 play, 67-yard drive with his one-yard dive. Aiden Applegarth scored the conversion for an 8-0 lead.
Lamp covered up a Panther fumble 46 seconds later and Jayce Cummins took an end around to pay dirt for a 40-yard touchdown. Walker Kupke found Mason Wells for the conversion and 16-0 advantage as the first period came to a close.
NCHS was able to keep the home team from any sustained drives, but disaster struck when Dylan Molzahn and Applegarth gave the ball away on consecutive possessions. Saratoga capitalized on the second one when Geoffrey Johnson found Heston Fisher for a 15-yard score. The conversion was stuffed but the Tiger lead was just 16-6 approaching the half. With just 10 seconds to go, Applegarth made up for his mistake with a 61-yard run to the endzone. Molzahn got the conversion run and it was 24-6 at the break.
Cummins added his second score of the game with a 45-yard blast of speed just two minutes into the third. Kupke to Wells was good for two and the home team began to fade. Applegarth got another touchdown from 61 yards nearing quarter’s end and Cummins put NCHS ahead 40-6.
The junior varsity offense took over and put the final points on the board with eight and a half minutes still remaining. David West made a nine-yard touchdown run and Lamp’s conversion gave NCHS the 48-6 win.
“Another long bus ride, and we started a bit flat,” head coach Ryan Nelson said. “But right before half we woke up and played our game the rest of the way.”
Wind River visits Lusk for the first time since 2018, with the quarterfinal game kickoff set for 6 p.m. Friday night.
The Tigers faced the Cougars in a scrimmage early this season, but a lot has changed for both squads since then.
“They run that triple option, so we’ll have to be on point with our defensive assignments,” Nelson said. “Like most of the West teams, they’re a bit bigger up front than we are, so we’ll work on a scheme to hopefully counter it.”
Parking is not reserved, and admission prices will be charged. $5 for adults and $3 for students.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
NCHS 16 8 16 8 – 38
SHS 0 6 0 0 – 6
NCHS: Passing- 3/4, 48 yds; Rushing- 46 atts/407 yds; 15 first downs; 6 penalties/50 yds; 2 TO
SHS: Passing 18/37, 204 yds; Rushing 20 atts/-16 yds; 7 first downs; 8 penalties/53 yds; 2 TO
NCHS PLAYER STATS: Passing- Kupke 3/4, 48 yds. Rushing- Applegarth 14/217, 2 TDs; Cummins 6/103, 2 TDs; Molzahn 6/31; Lamp 7/22, TD; Sean Johnson 6/15; West 4/13, TD; Kupke 2/3; Cody Taylor 1/3. Receiving- Applegarth 1 catch/23 yds; Molzahn 1/17; Mason Wells 1/8. Defensive points- Lamp 29; Molzahn 24; Kupke 22; Taylor 9; West 8; Blake Miller 8; Wells 7; Cummins 5; Miles Ashurst 5; Quintin Bieri 3; Ridge Kupke 2; Johnson 1; Ivan Kremers 1.