The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Don Ogle 

Red Raiders slip by Gering

 

October 25, 2017

Don Ogle

Sidney senior Derek Robb (18) pursues a Gering runner in Friday's Homecoming Game at Weymouth Field. Robb made several key defensive plays, but also scored two touchdowns, including the winning score, in a thriller that saw the Raiders win in the last half minute of play.

Sidney's Red Raiders had the kind of half to open its game Friday that everyone dreads in a football game, let alone Homecoming.

The visiting Gering Bulldogs rocked the Raiders in that first half, taking advantage of Sidney miscues while its runners cut through the Sidney defense almost at will.

Leading 7-0 after the first quarter, Gering doubled its lead on a pick-six just seconds into the second quarter, then went up 21-0 at quarter's end.

But there are two halves to a football game, and the Raiders proved that one bad half doesn't constitute a game.

Sidney scored on its first two possessions of the second half, the first an eight-yard run by Derek Robb, the second a two-yard dive by Jared Nation.

Where gaping holes, missed tackles and inability to move the ball marked the first half, the Raiders' second half brought better defensive reads, execution and stops, and a balanced offensive attack that kept the Bulldogs scrambling.

With just over 9:00 left in the fourth quarter, Sidney quarterback Arik Doty connected with senior John Smith on a 70-yard touchdown pass play to tie the score at 21.

After holding Gering on its ensuing possessions, Smith brought Sidney fans to their feet with 2:00 left, taking a Gering punt at his own 25 yard line and running it back for an apparent touchdown.

Fans went quiet when Smith was called out of bounds at the Gering 45, but they erupted again as Doty connected with Coby Haas at the one yard line and Robb dove in to give Sidney the lead, 27-21, with :32 left.

In the tale of two halves, Sidney Coach Chris Koozer couldn't put his finger on a definitive reason for the slow start.

"I think part of it might have been that they didn't have school today," Koozer said. "I'm not sure, but they didn't go through their normal routines and that might have been part of it."

But Koozer also didn't have any special "fix it" talk that made the difference at halftime.

"The kids had it taken care of when I got in the locker room," Koozer said. "We have a great bunch of seniors and they are good leaders and they took care of it."

"We just didn't come out like we should have," said Robb, one of those seniors. "We realized we were dragging."

So Robb and other seniors took the lead in talking about what the team needed to play up to its potential if it expected to come out as the team everyone knew they could be.

Sidney closed its season with a 4-6 record, improving over last year, while playing one of the toughest schedules in the state. That, Smith said, isn't what they set out to do, but can still be seen as a success.

"It's always good to improve from one year to the next," said Smith "We worked hard all summer getting up and gettin ready. We had those tough games - the toughest schedule in Class B - but we powered through. The way we played against McCook was phenomenal; we couldn't have asked for any more out of our guys."

 

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