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

By Mike Motz
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Sidney Survives Bridgeport 14-13


September 4, 2019

Mike Motz

Senior Cooper White deflects and tips the ball to himself, then runs for a touchdown in the first quarter during the Bulldog's victory over Weldon Valley on Thursday.

Ahrens' Two TD Passes Lift Raiders

Sidney's Red Raider Football Team opened its' 2019 season at home with a weather-delayed 14-to-13 victory over the visiting Bridgeport Bulldogs. After shutting out Bridegport 40-to-0 in last year's opener at Bridgeport, the Red Raiders had all they could handle against the upstart Bulldogs, and had to hang on to win a game they were expected to win handily.

Bridgeport first year head coach Jeremy Reimers and his experienced staff came into the game with an unpredictable offensive set, moving the Bulldog's biggest weapon Cole Faessler from quarterback to running back and receiver, and starting junior Jacob Wallesen as the primary quarterback.

Before the Raider defense butted heads with the Bulldogs, the weather that had been threatening prior to kick off produced lightning, and the start of the game was delayed. After one particularly loud and close lightning strike, the crowd was directed to take shelter inside Sidney High School. After an hour of delay, the opening ceremonies commenced, and the game finally started.

Sidney received the opening kick, and was unable to generate any offense and was forced to punt. The Bulldogs were able to manage a quick first down, but then their drive stalled and the vistors punted the ball back to Sidney.

Sidney started their drive with two short runs, then on third down senior quarterback Eli Ahrens connected with junior Beau Wamsley open crossing the middle, and Wamsley outran the Bulldog's defense for a 57 yard touchdown reception and after the extra point put the Red Raiders on top 7-to-0.

The Bulldogs received the kick, and promptly started a drive with a mix of passes and runs featuring Faessler, driving all the way down to the Sidney one yard line. After stuffing a run attempt on first down, on second down Faessler was able to muscle past the Sidney line and scored the Bulldog's first touchdown of the game. A missed extra point kick after the touchdown would prove to be critical in a game decided by one point.

The Raiders received the ball with less than a minute left in the first quarter, and got off to a bad start to their drive when senior Zak Wieser fumbled a handoff, losing four yards but at least recovering the ball. On second down, on the 20 yard line, Ahrens threw an incomplete sideline pass to senior Paul Houser. On third down, Ahrens was flushed out of the pocket by the Bridgeport rush, but was able to scramble to extend the play and found Wamsley wide open. Wamsley caught the pass and romped 80 yards to the endzone, extending the Sidney lead to 14-to-6 after a succesful extra point, and ending the first quarter.

The second quarter had both teams drive and then stall, with Bridgeport's defense effectively stopping the Sidney running attack. The Raiders struggled to slow the Bulldog's mixture of passes and option plays, but were able to keep Bridgeport from scoring in the final seconds of the quarter to go into the half leading 14-to-6.

The third quarter started with Bridgeport receiving the ball, but ending their drive with a fourth down punt. Sidney started with good field position, and Ahrens was able to gain a first down with a 16 yard scramble. But the drive was stopped when Wieser was hit behind the line on 4th and 2, and also was called for an unsportsmanike penalty. The Bulldogs took over and immediatley moved the ball for a first down. The Bulldogs then converted a 3rd and 16 with a 27 yard Wallesen to Faessler connection, and continued to drive until Faesller scored on a five yard touchdown run. The Bulldogs trailed by one, 14-to-13.

Sidney struggled to find a way to contain Faessler, as his size and speed made him difficult to locate and tackle on his counter runs up the middle of the defense. The Sidney offense had troubles also, as Ahrens was unable to connect on his passes, while the Bulldog defense stiffened against the Raiders rushing attack. But the Raiders were able to stop the Bulldogs from scoring, even when giving up yards in big chunks at times. The Sidney defense was consistently able to come up with the big play at the right time, and was able to control the ball long enough that the Bulldogs ended up running out of time, and Sidney took the win by a final of 14-to-13.

The C-2 Bulldogs came in with a creative gameplan, and with their offensive weapons and a surprisingly effective defense, gave the C-1 Red Raiders all they could handle. Eli Ahrens proved effective in his first start at quarterback. With only three completions on 11 attempts, two touchdowns and 143 yards is a promising start for Ahrens. Beau Wamsley continues to impress with his gamebreaking speed, with two touchdown receptions for 57 and 80 yards. Wieser was the workhorse out of the backfield, carrying the ball 20 times for 80 yards.

Next the Red Raiders travel to Gordon to face the Gordon-Rushville Mustangs Friday night.


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