GRAND ISLAND — Facing real adversity for the first time this season, the Scottsbluff High School football team didn’t flinch in a Class B state-rated showdown with Grand Island Northwest on Friday night in Grand Island.
The Bearcats, ranked No. 2 by the Omaha World-Herald, overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to escape with an 18-13 win over the seventh-ranked Vikings. With the victory, Scottsbluff improved to 3-0.
“We found a way to beat a really good team,” Scottsbluff head coach Jud Hall said. “We had to battle back in the second half and had to rely on our defense to get a couple of huge stops when we needed to. That’s what we did. I’m just real proud of the kids.”
On the road against a ranked opponent for the second straight week, the Bearcats went in front for good with just 1 minute, 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Sabastian Harsh’s 1-yard touchdown run lifted Scottsbluff into an 18-13 advantage.
The Bearcat defense then stepped up as Jacob Krul picked off a Northwest pass to cement the victory.
The powerful Scottsbluff offense was held in check by a stout Viking defense. Scottsbluff was held scoreless in the first half and trailed 7-0 at halftime.
Hall expected moving the ball would be a challenge against Northwest, which had just allowed three points coming into the contest.
“It’s been a challenge going against their defense the last three or four years,” he said. “They did a good job tonight of switching back and forth between a couple of different schemes. We made some adjustments at halftime and our kids were able to pick those things up and we did a much better job of moving the ball in the second half.”
On their first possession of the second half, the Bearcat offense finally showed signs of life. Harsh capped a nice drive with a 1-yard touchdown to pull Scottsbluff within 7-6 with just over 2 minutes to play in the third quarter.
After forcing a Northwest punt on the ensuing possession, the Bearcats went right back to work on the ground as Krul ripped off a couple of solid runs. Harsh capped the scoring drive with another 1-yard run to put Scottsbluff in front for the first time at 12-7.
Northwest answered right back with a scoring drive of its own. Rans Sanders hooked up with Tyler Hageman on a 23-yard touchdown pass to vault the Vikings back into a 13-12 lead.
Trailing with under 5 minutes to play, the Bearcats didn’t panic. Scottsbluff stuck with the game plan and methodically marched down the field, while chewing up the clock. Harsh’s third 1-yard touchdown proved to be the game winner.
“Our kids are quality football kids because they take coaching, make the adjustments that we see as a coaching staff, and put that into play on the field,” Hall said. “It’s nice to have kids that want to be coached and then go out and perform after you make those adjustments.”
Harsh led the Bearcats in rushing with 156 yards on 28 carries. Krul also went over the century mark with 117 yards on 22 carries.
Scottsbluff will be back at home next week when Sterling, Colorado, visits Bearcat Stadium.
Scottsbluff (3-0) 0 0 6 12 — 18
Northwest (2-1) 0 7 0 6 — 13
NW — Rans Sanders 1 run (Parker Janky kick)
S — Sabastian Harsh 1 run (Kick failed)
S — Harsh 1 run (Run failed)
NW — Tyler Hageman 23 pass from Sanders (Run failed)
S — Harsh 1 run (Run failed)