Friday the 13th and a full moon didn’t prove to be unlucky for the Gering football team as the Bulldogs captured their first win since 2017 with a 34-0 shutout of Torrington, Wyoming, on Friday night at Memorial Stadium in Gering.
The shutout was the first in eight years when Gering registered a 21-0 win over Sidney in 2011. It was the first home shutout since 2007 when the Bulldogs topped Torrington 19-0.
The victory also snapped Gering’s 12-game losing streak that dated back to 2017. And for Josh Hiatt, it was his first as Gering’s head coach.
“They played great tonight. The kids really rallied around each other and battled the whole game,” Hiatt said. “That is what we told them it will take because Torrington is a good football team. They play hard and they have some great kids. Our kids kept battling and no matter what happened on offense or defense, they kept pulling together and fighting. It was nice having the shutout. I told our kids before the game that I wanted one quarter at a time. We kept doing that and that was awesome.”
As much as the win was nice, Hiatt was especially pleased with the shutout, something that hasn’t occurred in eight years.
“It is special,” he said. “With me being a defensive coach, defense is my passion. The way the kids are starting to play on defense — just no-nonsense, flying around defense — I love it. It is awesome to watch and watch them have success.”
One of the biggest plays of the game was a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior Kaleb Gonzales late in the first quarter that helped Gering gain momentum. It turned a 7-0 game into a 14-0 contest and stopped a Torrington drive.
“It was huge. It was a spark and a spark that we needed right there,” Hiatt said. “They had a few plays strung together and we got a couple [defensive] plays back-to-back to force it to be a longer throw. Kaleb is a heady player and he has the speed to take it. Everybody else got out in front of him and escorted him into the endzone.”
As much as the defense was playing all out, the offense was clicking on all cylinders behind a strong rushing attack by Brady Radzymski, who finished with three touchdowns, and the precision-like passing of Anthony Walker, who found Kolton Ebbers on a number of long plays, including a 32-yard touchdown strike in the fourth quarter. Ebbers had over 100 yards of receiving yards.
“The offense is playing well, too,” Hiatt said. “When we got over the substitution stuff in the beginning, it really clicked. Our line adjusted. We were expecting them to be in a 4-3 and they came out in a 3-5 and that was a big adjustment for us. It worked out and the kids figured it out. That is what we told them where the game is to just figure out the puzzle and putting it together.”
Gering’s heady defense started right away as the Bulldogs recovered a fumble on Torrington’s first possession of the game. Six plays later, Radzymski found paydirt with a 2-yard run.
The game stayed that way until the late seconds of the first half. Torrington was driving and Gering had two big defensive plays to force a fourth-down at the 20 yard line. The Blazers went for it on fourth and the halfback pass play was intercepted by Gonzales.
Gering added a third touchdown in the second quarter. The big play was two Walker to Ebbers pass completions, the first a 21-yard play and the second a 12-yard play. Radzymski finished off the drive with 4:33 to play on a 1-yard run for the 20-0 lead at halftime.
Both teams had two straight punts in the third quarter before Gering mounted a drive on their third possession. Radzymski was the big horse on the ground, accounting for 48 yards while Walker hooked up with Riley Schanaman on a 15-yard completion before Radzymski finished off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run for the 27-0 lead.
The Bulldogs went up 34-0, scoring on their first possession of the fourth quarter on a 32-yard pass play from Walker to Ebbers.
Torrington had a drive going late in the game and moved the ball down to the 12-yard line with over three minutes to play. The Bulldogs’ defense came up big with two sacks and then forced to incompletions to take over on downs and they ran the clock out for the win.
Torrington, 1-1, will play Green River next week while Gering heads on the road to face Hastings.
Torrington (1-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Gering (1-2) 14 6 7 7 – 34
G – Brady Radzymski 2-yard run (Kaleb Gonzales kick).
G – Kaleb Gonzales 90-yard interception return (Gonzales kick).
G – Radzymski 1-yard run (kick failed).
G – Radzymski 4-yard run (Gonzales kick).
G – Anthony Walker 32-yard pass to Kolton Ebbers (Gonzales kick).