HASTINGS — In what many anticipated would be a tight matchup between two state-rated Class B high school football teams ended up being a one-sided affair in favor of the second-ranked Scottsbluff Bearcats on Friday night at Lloyd Wilson Field in Hastings.
After spotting ninth-ranked Hastings a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter, Scottsbluff reeled off the next 35 points in a row en route to recording a dominating 41-12 road victory.
The victory improved the Bearcats to 2-0 on the season. It also was Scottsbluff’s 14th straight regular-season win dating back to 2017.
Coming off an impressive season-opening win in McCook last week, it looked like Hastings carried that momentum into Friday’s game after Austin Nauert took a short pass from Jarrett Synek and proceeded to race 80 yards to the end zone to give the Tigers an early advantage.
Despite facing a quick deficit, Scottsbluff head coach Jud Hall said the Bearcats never wavered.
“We play with a lot of confidence,” Hall said. “When that big play happened I didn’t see anyone pointing fingers or hear anybody blaming anybody. There was a lot of guys just picking each other up. Our kids believe in each other and that’s an important thing to have as a team.”
It took just a couple of plays for Scottsbluff to flip the score in its favor for good. After taking the snap in the shot gun, senior quarterback Sabastian Harsh bulled over a couple of defenders and sprinted 73 yards to pull the Bearcats even. Caleb Walker’s point-after kick gave Scottsbluff a 7-6 lead.
Harsh was just warming up. After Jacob Krul’s short touchdown run capped another quick scoring drive on Scottsbluff’s second possession, Harsh tossed a 69-yard touchdown pass to Luke Rohrer to extend the Bearcats’ lead to 21-6 early in the second quarter.
Scottsbluff’s lead ballooned to 28-6 at halftime after Harsh hooked up with Walker for a 40-yard touchdown strike.
On the Bearcats’ first possession of the second half, Harsh and Walker connected again on a 25-yard score. Walker’s extra point gave Scottsbluff a commanding 35-6 advantage.
Hastings finally snapped the Bearcats’ string of 35 straight points when Carson Shoemaker busted free for an 80-yard touchdown run. However, there would be no further momentum swing in favor of the Tigers as Scottsbluff answered on the next possession with a Harsh 19-yard touchdown scamper.
Harsh concluded the scoring later in the third with a 1-yard touchdown run. It marked his third running score of the night and sixth overall.
The rest of the contest was played with a running clock.
Despite the big win, Hall pointed to a few things the Bearcats need to do better.
“You’re always happy to get a win, but I know we can play a lot better if we eliminate mental mistakes,” he said. “I thought we did some things between plays and penalized ourselves too many times. That’s my fault as a head coach and it’s something that will get taken care of.”
The Bearcats went over the 400-yard rushing mark for the second straight game. Harsh led the charge with 188 yards on 14 carries. Krul added 146 yards on 15 carries.
Harsh finished the game completing 7 of his 10 passes for 172 yards. Walker made two catches for 65 yards and Jasiya DeOllos caught three balls for 30 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, Scottsbluff didn’t allow a 100-yard rusher. Hall credited defensive coordinator Jake McLain’s scheme to keep the Tigers in check.
“They had two big plays, but other than that they really struggled to get anything going consistently,” Hall said. “Our defensive game plan was fantastic once again from coach McLain and I’m really proud of our coaching staff’s ability to get our kids to execute that game plan at a high level.”
Scottsbluff will be back on the bus heading east next week to face another state-rated opponent. The Bearcats will travel to Grand Island to take on Northwest, which improved to 2-0 with a 20-3 victory over McCook on Friday night.
“The NSAA didn’t do us any favors by scheduling these two long trips back-to-back against two really good football programs,” Hall said. “Our kids need to do a good job of resting and recovering this weekend so they’re prepared for another long road trip. It’s going to be another well-coached team and another physical team. It will be another huge challenge for our kids and hopefully they’re ready to accept that challenge this week in practice.”
Scottsbluff (2-0) 14 14 19 0 — 47
Hastings (1-1) 6 0 6 0 — 12
H — Austin Nauert 80 pass from Jarrett Synek (Kick failed)
S — Sabastian Harsh 73 run (Caleb Walker kick)
S — Jacob Krul 3 run (Walker kick)
S — Luke Rohrer 69 pass from Harsh (Walker kick)
S — Walker 40 pass from Harsh (Walker kick)
S — Walker 25 pass from Harsh (Walker kick)
H — Carson Shoemaker 80 run (Kick failed)
S — Harsh 19 run (Kick failed)
S — Harsh 1 run (Kick failed)