Red Raiders Fall Short Against Indians, 22-15
Defense Can't Contain Ogallala's Rushing Attack
October 19, 2023
OGALLALA--Ogallala was 3-and-0 with only Sidney left in District Play, while Sidney was 2-and-0 with Ogallala and Alliance left on the district schedule, so this game would effectively determine the winner of the C1-District 7 title. With two teams featuring dominant running games, focused on ball control, the winner would be determined by who could control the ball and score, and that's exactly what Ogallala was able to accomplish to earn the 22-to-15 victory over undefeated Sidney.
The field conditions were slippery with rain soaking the filed prior to the game. There were particularly bad spots, like in the middle of the field, that both teams struggled with, but the slick conditions seemed to affect Sidney more. Sidney came in to the game knowing that Ogallala senior running back Caden Rezac would be the focus of the rushing attack, but the Indians did a great job mixing their runs mostly between Rezac and senior Harry Caskey, and Caskey proved to be the difference maker in the game.
Ogallala started with the ball first, and was able to use Rezac and Caskey in tandem to methodically drive the ball down the field. With no big plays by the Indians, the steady drive took a lot of time off the clock, but the drive ultimately stalled when on fourth and goal from the 12 yard line, Ogallala completed a short pass that got them down to the 7, but resulted in a turnover on downs. Sidney took over deep in their own territory, but had to punt on fourth down and one yard to go. Ogallala started at midfield, but after a bad shotgun snap on first down resulted in a loss, the Sidney defense held the Indians, forcing a punt that junior Landon Riddle fair-caught at Sidney's 8 yard line. Sidney was able to gain one first down, but were stopped on a third down and one try, forcing another punt. Ogallala started on their own 41 yard line, and the first quarter ended.
The second quarter started with Ogallala alternating runs between Rezac and Caskey, and although Sidney did not give up any big gains, the Indians kept gaining enough yards to move the chains and march down the field. Rezac scored the first touchdown of the contest on a 7 yard run, and Caskey ran for the two point conversion to give Ogallala an 8-to-0 lead with about 8 minutes left in the half. Sidney sophomore Lance Holly returned the ensuing kick-off to the 25 yard line, and the Red Raiders were finally able to operate their offense from out of the shadow of their own goalpost. Seniors Isak Doty and Luke Holly had the brunt of the carries, getting chunks of yards and gaining first downs. Lance Holly and junior Reid Fiscus were also in the mix on jet sweep tosses that kept the Ogallala defense off-balance. Inside the 20 yard line, Luke Holly broke a 17 yard run up the middle that resulted in Sidney's first touchdown, and an end run two-point conversion by Landon Riddle kept pace with Ogallala, and the score was knotted at 8-to-8.
Ogallala again started to drive, and their short gains kept moving the chains. A big run by Rezac gave Ogallala a first down on the Sidney 14 yard line with 18 seconds to play. On second and eleven with 6.5 seconds left, Ogallala quarterback Edan Cain was sacked for a 10 yard loss, but somehow the referees ruled there was still one second left on the clock after the play, giving Ogallala a final shot at the end zone. Cain threw a pass to the end zone but Riddle intercepted it for Sidney, and the half ended in an 8-to-8 tie. Sidney had stopped Rezac from making any big plays, but he still had over 100 yards in the half with a touchdown.
Sidney started the second half with the ball, and after Lance Holly returned the kickoff to the 40 yard line, Sidney had good field position to begin their drive. However, the Red Raiders could not get any offense going, and were forced to punt. Doty got in a great kick that was downed on the Ogallala 5 yard line. Again the Indians used the tandem of Rezac and Caskey to methodically march down the field, bringing the ball to the Sidney 2 yard line when time expired in the third quarter. A few plays later Caskey capped the 94 yard, 21 play drive with a short touchdown plunge, and after a failed rush up the middle on a two point conversion, the Indians held a 14-to-8 lead. Sidney received the ensuing kickoff and brought it back to their 33 yard line. The Red Raiders gained a first down, then on a third down and six play, Isak Doty rolled out then tried to cut upfield but slipped on the wet turf. Sidney went for it on fourth down, and this time Luke Holly caught a short pass on a screen play, broke past the Ogallala defenders and ran 52 yards for a Red Raider touchdown, and a successful extra point kick gave Sidney a 15-to-14 lead with 9:43 left to play.
Again the Raider defense simply could not contain the one-two punch of Rezac and Caskey, and the Indians went on a long and time-consuming march down the field. After Rezac broke through with a 5-yard touchdown run and a successful two point conversion, the Indians were up 22-to-15 with 3:57 left to play. Sidney had enough time for one more drive, and started to move the ball. A second down incompletion resulted, when Doty didn't see a wide-open junior tight end Patrick McCartney, for the second time in the game. Doty was able to keep the drive going with a big 30 yard run on a fourth down and three play, setting up Sidney at the Ogallala 18 yard line with time winding down. After a first down run for no gain by Luke Holly, on second down Doty finally targeted an open McCartney going across the middle, but Doty's pass was tipped and intercepted by Ogallala on the 11 yard line. With 1:26 left to play, Ogallala was able to gain a first down on three runs, and then knelt on the ball twice to run out the clock, securing the 22-to-15 victory.
It was a well-played game by both teams, with one mistake ultimately making the difference. Although the Sidney defense could not contain the Ogallala rushing attack, the defense still put Sidney in position to win the game at the end. Sidney just could not close out its final drive, resulting in their first loss of the season, and squandering their chance for the C1-7 District Title. Rezac carried the ball 24 times for 171 yards and two touchdowns, and Caskey had 29 carries for 144 yards and a touchdown, and always seemed to pick up first downs at crucial points for Ogallala. The Indians had the ball for nearly 20 minutes longer than Sidney, and ran 33 more plays.
Sidney was unable to rush the ball as well as they had all season, with Doty and Holly combining for just 155 rushing yards and a touchdown on the night. Ogallala rushed for 334 yards on the night.
Sidney finishes the regular season with a home contest against 2-and-6 district rival Alliance on Friday. Alliance blew a big lead against Chadron in the last game, but always gives the Red Raiders a tough contest. If Sidney can get a win against the Bulldogs, they will most likely secure a home game in the post-season playoffs, slated to start on Friday, October 27.