Bison rally for big football win at Adams Central
HASTINGS, Nebraska -- Entering the 2010 high school football season, the McCook Bison coaching staff listed the offensive line as one of the strengths of the team.
The huge Bison front line keyed a 15-14 comeback victory at Adams Central Friday night that kept McCook's Class B-7 District title hopes alive.
The contest was played at Patriots Field on the Adams Central campus just west of Hastings.
The Bison showed they could handle adversity just fine. Junior starting quarterback Matt Chitwood went out of the game in the first quarter with an injury, and he did not return. Senior Brad Baumbach came off the bench to lead the McCook rally as the offense scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns.
The Bison trailed 7-3 at halftime. Then Adams Central sophomore Jake Fowler shocked McCook when he returned the second-half kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to boost the Patriots to a 14-3 cushion.
Big third-quarter possessions
Head coach Jeff Gross then called on his O-line, anchored by seniors Derek Chancellor, Chris Conroy, Greg Stafford and Ben Vetrovsky, to lead a charge through the Adams Central defense. The Bison put together a pair of third-quarter drives that resulted in a pair of touchdowns and put McCook ahead by a single point late in the period.
Following Adams Central's touchdown return, McCook drove 77 yards in 11 plays and overcame two major penalties during the possession to score midway through the third quarter. Sophomore Jake Schlager scored on a 5-yard yard as the sophomore set up in the Wildcat formation where center Stafford snapped the ball directly back to Schlager in shotgun formation.
The Patriots stopped fullback Justin Terry just short of the goal line on the two-point conversion try. McCook trailed 14-9 with seven minutes left in the third period.
The Bison gave the hosts a first down on the next possession via a horse-collar tackle infraction. But McCook's defense dug in and forced a punt near midfield, and the Bison took over at their 32-yard line.
Senior wide receiver Cody Goltl alertly pounced on a McCook fumble on the first play of the drive after senior running back Branden Yost had run 10 yards before losing control of the football. Seven plays later, the Bison went ahead on a 4-yard option run by senior quarterback Brad Baumbach.
Yost was stopped short on the conversion run, and McCook led 15-14 with 1:22 remaining in the third period.
Two big defensive plays
The Bison defense took over in the final quarter. Senior Ryan Powell came up with the first play of the game with Adams Central moving the ball deep in McCook territory. On fourth down and 6 from the Bison 23, Patriots quarterback Matt Overmiller fired a pass of 6-3 wide receiver Nick Stine in the left flat. The 5-8 Powell came up from his cornerback position and made a sure tackle, stopping Stine two yards short of a first down and giving the ball back to the Bison.
McCook moved the ball near midfield before the Adams Central defense forced a punt. The Patriots took over at their 14-yard line with 4:29 remaining.
The hosts pulled off a fourth-down fake punt with a pass from Stine to tight end Calvin Ott, who outjumped McCook linebacker Keith Wallace to control the ball for a 20-yard gain and keep the home team's hopes alive.
Three plays later, quarterback Overmiller scrambled for a 7-yard gain, but the Bison were whistled for a face mask penalty that helped move the ball into Bison territory. On the next play, Adams Central tried a reverse pass, with the ball flipped back to Overmiller, who tried to throw a long pass downfield. But Goltl snagged the interception in front of the Patriots receiver and returned the ball upfield.
McCook drew an illegal block penalty on Goltl's interception return, but the Bison owned possession of the football on their 23-yard line with about two minutes left.
After an Adams Central timeout on first down, Baumbach scrambled 9 yards for a first down, then Adams Central used its final timeout as Baumbach kneeled down behind his line on the next play. Baumbach took a knee twice more to run out the clock on a huge Bison win.
After forcing a McCook punt on the opening possession of the game, Adams Central drove 54 yards in 11 plays for its only offensive touchdown of the contest. Ryan Bender capped the march with a 2-yard touchdown with 6:31 left in the opening period.
McCook drove to the Adams Central 4-yard line early in the second quarter, but a Baumbach pass was intercepted by Kyle Cuddeford near the goal line. The Patriots drew a holding penalty and could not escape the shadow of the goal line as the Bison forced a punt from the Patriots 7. A short kick gave McCook possession at the AC 34-yard line, but the Bison managed just one first down before settling for a 36-yard field goal by Justin Terry to go into intermission trailing 7-3.
Holdrege at Weiland Field Oct. 22
McCook improved to 7-1 on the season, while Adams Central slipped to 5-3. The Bison should have guaranteed themselves a spot in the Class B state playoffs with the victory, but McCook can win the B-7 District title in the regular-season finale against Holdrege Friday, Oct. 22 at Weiland Field.
Adams Central travels to Lexington next Friday.