Facing their second 350 mile trip in 7 days, one had to wonder if the Scottsbluff football team had anything left when they faced the high powered Aurora Huskies on their new Sprint-Turf field amidst an enegry charged homecoming crowd. But the Bearcats took advantage of Aurora's failed 4th down gambles, employed a stiffling defense, and rode the splended running of Matt Klein to a surprising easy 32-8 victory. Scottsbluff head coach Joe Benson puts a lot of stock in field postion, and his #2 Bearcats seized two early 1st quarter opportunities to a stake a 14-0 lead and never looked back. It was a night that saw Aurora out gain the Bearcats 280 to 250, but it was the Huskie's failure to convert on 6 of 7 fourth down opportunities that led to the final outcome and one of the biggest football wins in recent history for Scottsbluff.
The initial possessions for both teams in the first quarter set the tone for entire game. Scottsbluff took the opening drive from it's own 36 and methodically marched 64 yards in 10 plays for the opening score. Matt Klein ripped off runs of 10, 15 and 16 yards on the drive and gained 46 of the 64 yards, closing it out with his 2 yard touchdown blast. Randy Wenz added the kick after for the 7-0 lead...8:44 left in the first. Aurora then fizzled on it's 1st failed 4th conversion when quarterback Troy McDonald missed on a floating pass attempt at his own 21 on a 4th and 9.
Aurora spilled speedster Luke Worden for a 7 yard loss on Scottsbluff's first down play, but the Bearcats ran a little razzle-dazzle on the following 2nd down play. After Matt Klein took the snap in the backfield, he pitched the ball to QB Eric Moreno, who then spotted 145 pound senior Taylor Winkler all by himself for a 28 yard scoring strike. Just like that, the 'Cats were up 14-0 with 7:38 left in the first quarter.
The Huskies did tighten things up following the 1st quarter Scottsbluff flurry and put up a score of their own at the 1:47 mark of the first half when Troy McDonald squirted up the middle for a 1 yard touchdwon. Cole Ashby took the snap on the conversion and battled his way to the end zone for the 2 point conversion to close the gap to 14-8 at the half.
Scottsbluff started the 3rd quarter in the same efficent manner they displayed on the game's opening drive after holding Aurora to a 3 and out. The Bearcats went 56 yards in only 6 plays with Matt Klein once again providing the spark with a classic 31 yard run from the Huskie 47 to their 16. Klein's lightening quick start when he recieves the snap in the Wildcat formation and his quick reads and great vision were a thing to behold. Then 1000 yard rusher from 2011 took the ball in for the final yard for the score. Klein then added the 2 point conversion out of an apparent kick formation to stake his team to a 22-8 lead with 7:49 left in the 3rd. Two Aurora possessions later may have been the clincher for Scottsbluff.
Aurora once again decided to gamble on a 4th and 1 from their own 15 yard line. The pass failed and Scottsbluff took over at the 15. The Huskies held, but the Bearcat's Randy Wenz nailed a 27 yard field goal on the opening play of the 4th quarter to give Scottsbluff a 25-8 lead. Then in typical Aurora football fashion, the Huskies took the ensuing kick-off and marched all the way to the Scottsbluff 5. Enter the Bearcat's opportunistic defense. Troy McDonald attempted to hand the ball off to Brock Reichardt, but Scottsbluff's Tim Magdaleno took the handoff as if it had been intended for him all along, and returned the stolen pigskin to the Scottsbluff 43 yard line. You had to see that one to believe it. Moreno then once again found Taylor Winkler for a 38 yard gain which led to a subsequent 1 yard score by Matt Klein to seal the 32-8 win with 4:40 left in the game. The relentless Scottsbluff never let up as it stopped the Aurora passing game when it counted even on the final drive of the game.
Matt Klein led the Scottsbluff charge with 133 yards on 25 carries and 3 touchdowns. Klein will line up and take the snap in the Wildcat on occasion and is especially effective out that formation. This kid is one of the best vision backs you will see this season. Bearcat quarterback Eric Moreno was an efficient 7 of 12 passing for an even 100 yards and a score. Credit the Bearcat offensive line with some crisp blocking at the scrimmage line to spring Klein and hard running Tim Magdaleno. Aurora's fine quarterback, Troy McDonald had a fine passing night, completing 18 of 32 for 189 yards. Several of his long tosses were just out of reach of the speedy Ben McQuiston, who still ended the night with 6 catches for 72 yards. McQuiston entered the game as Class B's 6th ranked receiver with 18 receptions for 292 yards and 2 scores. McDonald also led the Aurora rushing attack with 47 yards on 14 carries. The usually powerful running of Aurora's Brock Reichardt, who entered the game with 414 yards, was bottled up all evening and the 180 pound junior gained only 20 yards on 11 carries when it was all said and done.
Scottsbluff returns home next week, with all the regular season back breaking road jaunts under its belt, to face a dangerous Grand Island Northwest team. Northwest quarterback Zach Rouzee broke the state Class B single game passing record again, throwing for 421 yards against Gering Friday night. He set the record 2 weeks ago when he passed for 391 yards in a game with Hastings. Following the Northwest game, the Bearcats will face only western Nebraska foes Gering, Alliance, and Sidney (all district teams) to close out the regular season.
Aurora will have to regroup in a hurry and travel to Doane College to face defending Class B king Crete next Friday. But with one of the finest coaching staffs in the state and an excellent head man in Randy Huebert, the Huskies will be back on track before you know it. This is a very good football team. You might also circle October 5th on you calender because district foe and longtime rival Northwest will be in Aurora that night for what should be a game filled with fireworks.
And it certainly would not be out of the question to see Aurora and Scottsbluff face each other again in the playoffs.....we can only hope.