By Tom Southard

Longhorns fall to Bridgeport 24-8


Kimball gave up two early touchdowns at Bridgeport Friday night, trailed 18-0 at half time, and ended up losing 24-8 in a C-2 District contest. The win assured the hosting Bulldogs a spot in the state playoffs while Kimball is looking for one more win, tomorrow night (Friday), when Bayard comes to town, to get them into the state playoffs.

On a cold but relatively calm Western Nebraska football night, Kimball kicked off to start the contest with the Dogs getting a return to their own 34 yard line. Behind the running of Wyatt Pankowski, a 6’3, 204 pound sophomore, Bridgeport moved down field picking up a pair of 1st downs. The Kimball defense stiffened leaving the Dogs with a 4th and 9 situation at the Kimball 36 yard line, but senior quarterback, Jaime Gonzales, broke loose on a 36 yard sweep to score with the clock showing 7:23 in the opening period. They ran in the PAT conversion only to have it called back on a holding penalty. On their next try, Gonzales was sacked by Jake Reader and the score stood at 6-0.

The Horns went three and out on the ensuing kickoff forcing a punt with Bridgeport starting their next drive on their own 25 yard line. It took them 5 plays to score again with the big play on this drive a 57 yard pass connection between Gonzales and Kaleb DeCora. Gonzales got his second TD on the night on an 8 yard carry, and once again the 2 point conversion was cancelled out by penalty, and after the step off, a bad snap led to another failed conversion leaving the clock showing 12-0 with 2:51 left in the first quarter.

Gonzales, who is an all around outstanding athlete, kept sending his kickoffs into the end zone leaving Kimball to start at their own 20 yard line. Bridgeport was keying on stopping the running of Jonathon Withrow, but AJ Spicer had some good runs early and Colton Stull found Angel Flores open for a 26 yard gain before the drive stalled out forcing yet another Kimball punt early in the second quarter. The Bulldogs took advantage of a short field following a short Kimball punt. Taking possession at the Kimball 37, it took 7 plays to cover the distance with Gonzales getting his third score in the game from 2 yards out and the clock showing just :30 seconds before half time intermission. One more time the hosts came up short trying to run in the conversion, taking an 18-0 lead with them to the half time locker room.

The second half started with Kimball recieving the kickoff and getting their offense into high gear. Good runs by Withrow and Spicer moved the ball down field and Stull Connected again with Flores to keep the drive alive. They got to the Bulldog 10 yard line before a penalty pushed them back and they ended up giving the ball back at the Bridgeport 18 yard line. Kimball’s defense halted the next drive of the Dogs at the Kimball 29 and the Horns mounted a 7 play, 71 yard drive to pay dirt with Spicer and Withrow busting for some good gainers and Withrow going the final 3 yards over his own right side, rolling off a hard hit to get in for the lone Kimball TD on the night. Spicer tallied the 2 point conversion on a dive right with :56 seconds left in the third period to close to 18-8.

Bridgeport scored their final touchdown on a 24 yard pass from Gonzales to Jason Amateis with 8:22 remainining in the contest and failed one more time in converting the PAT. Kimball was forced to go to the air to try and play catch up with the clock winding down and Stull had a 38 yard reception to Trent Rutledge and another pair of catches by Flores before throwing an interception that allowed Bridgeport to run the clock out and end it.

It was a hard hitting and physical battle between two good football teams. Gonzales was a key to the win hitting on 4 of 9 passes for 126 yards and rushing for an additional 97 yards on 14 carries. Pankowski is big and fast, and just a sophomore, and ended up with 156 yards on 26 rushes. The winners had 410 yards total with 15 first downs.

Kimball had 8 first downs, completing 9 of 23 pass attempts for 107 yrds with Stull 7 of 21 for 72 yards and Withrow 1 of 1 for 38 yards. AJ Spicer was top rusher with 77 yards on 9 carries and Withrow ended up with 45 yards on 14 rushes. Kimball had 121 yards on 26 running plays. Flores had a good night catching the football with 4 receptions for 61 yards, Michael Ferguson had 2 catches for 8 yards, and Trent Rutledge 1 for 38 yards.

Another huge night for Jake Reader on defense as he led the Kimball tackle charts with 21 including 9 solo stops and 1 sack. Damien Rutledge had 15 tackles with 5 solos, Jonathon Withrow 10 total with 5 solos: AJ Spicer and Dakota Jefferson were both in on 7 tackles, Ben Sauter with 5 and 3 solos, Colton Stull had 3 solo tackles.

Kimball coach Nick Kuxhausen commenting on the game. “Bridgeport is a very good football team. They are big and their line fires out. Their quarterback is one of the best we have seen. They were more physical than us. In the first half we didn’t execute well and in big games we need to make big plays. They keyed on Jonathon and shut him down in the first half. In the second half we got him outside more and he got more yards. AJ ran the ball well for us. We came back and competed better in the second half”.

The Horns came out of the game with some bumps and bruises but nothing serious and they should be ready for Bayard on their home field Friday night in a battle of 3-4 teams and a probable state playoff berth awaiting the winner. Bayard is fresh off a 32-12 win over Perkins County this past week. Quarterback Zac Rice was 14 of 27 passing for 132 yards and also rushed for 44 on 7 carries. Rugby Miller had 133 yards rushing on 16 carries.

A big night for Kimball as it is designated Senior Parent’s Night with the school honoring the two seniors, Jake Reader and Dakota Jefferson and their parents. The TeamMates Chapter will be feeding you fans with their Hamburger Feed. Be sure to attend and help a very worthy cause. Come early, eat and get ready for the 7 p.m. kickoff.


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