By Clint Andersen
The Gordon-Rushville Mustangs football team went on the road to Bayard Friday night and came home with a well-deserved victory as they defeated the Tigers 26-14. The Mustang defense faced a stiff challenge from Bayard’s fast-paced spread offense, but even though they gave up some big plays, the Mustang defenders got the job done. In addition to the Tigers turning the ball over on downs twice (once on a fake punt) the defense forced three punts, one fumble, and a missed field goal. While Bayard did gain 260 yards of total offense, nearly half came on two big plays – a 50 yard quarterback sneak and a 60 yard pass play.
The Mustang defenders got a lot of help from their offense as they gained 258 total yards. More importantly, the G-R offense held a huge advantage in time of possession. The Mustang’s offense chewed up 29:15 compared to 18:45 for the Tigers. No doubt, keeping Bayard’s fast-paced, quick-strike offense off the field played a big part in the victory for the Mustangs. The Mustangs rushed for 180 yards, passed for 78 and were 9 of 15 on third downs. The Mustangs also ran 60 plays to the Tigers’ 37.
The Mustangs started the game by holding the Bayard offense to a 3 and out possession, then ground out a 31 yard touchdown drive that chewed up 5:24 ending with a Thomas Sandoz touchdown. The extra point was no good, and the Mustangs led 6-0. After trading punts, Bayard had the ball a third down and one from midfield when the quarterback slipped through the line on a quarterback sneak and raced 50 yards before being corralled at the Mustang 18. The Tigers would score two plays later to take a 7-6 lead with 6:34 left in the second quarter. Tristan Tuma gave the Mustangs great field position on the ensuing kick-off when he returned the ball to the Bayard 45 yard line. The offense again started chipping away at the Bayard defense going 45 yards in 4:23 capped by an Ethan Yauney touchdown scamper.
The Mustangs got off to a slow start after halftime as their first possession was a three-and-out. After a Kyle Anderson punt, the Tigers took over on their 37 yard line, then completed a 60 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14-14 with 8:37 left in the third quarter. Following another Mustang punt, the Tigers marched to the G-R 20 yard line before missing a field goal.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Mustang defense came up with a Bayard fumble on the Bayard 32 yard line. The good field position turned into seven points when Tristan Tuma found Kyle Anderson on 2nd down and 21 for a 30 yard touchdown to take a 20-14 lead. On Bayard’s next possession, they tried a fake punt that failed miserably and the Mustangs took over on the Bayard 22 yard line with 6:30 remaining in the game. The Mustangs took full advantage of the short field as Thomas Sandoz sealed the win with a 17 yard touchdown romp through the middle of the Tiger defense, and the Mustangs led 26-14 with 5:52 left in the game. The defense then forced Bayard to turn the ball over on downs and the Mustangs salted away the victory.
For the Mustangs, Thomas Sandoz carried the ball 17 times for 102 yards and two touchdowns, Tristan Tuma carried it 29 times for 71 yards and Ethan Yauney had six carries for seven yards and a touchdown. In the passing game, Tristan Tuma completed six of eight passes for 78 yards. Kyle Anderson caught four passes for 69 yards, Thomas Sandoz caught one pass for five yards, and Shane Child caught one pass for four yards.
Defensive leaders for the Mustangs were Thomas Sandoz and Lemur Gardner who each finished with 5.5 tackles, Ethan Yauney had 4 tackles and Nick Sasse had three.
With the win, the Mustangs even their record at 2-2 while Bayard remains winless at 0-3. The Mustangs will be in action this Friday when they take on the Chadron Cardinals in a homecoming tilt in Gordon.
By Clint Andersen