By Clint Andersen
If the Gordon-Rushville Mustangs’ plan on Friday night was to run the clock, keep the game close and have a chance to win in the fourth quarter, they were very successful. The Mustangs nearly went to Chadron and pulled the upset with the help of a rainy, cold night and seven Cardinal turnovers. However, they could not overcome five turnovers of their own as Chadron held on for a 16-6 victory.
A steady rain and temperatures in the low 40’s greeted players and fans as the game got underway. Neither team punted in the first half because of the cold and slippery conditions. Chadron took the opening kickoff and moved to the Mustang 40, but failed to convert on fourth down. The next five Chadron drives resulted in fumbles recovered by the Mustangs. These five fumbles set the Mustang offense up in Chadron territory at the 39, 30, 37, 12, and 50 yard lines. Unfortunately, the only points the Mustangs could muster came on the first play of the second quarter on 4th and 17 from the Chadron 19 yard line. Quarterback Colton Wolken found Kyle Anderson over the middle for the touchdown. The two point conversion failed and the score was 6-0 Mustangs.
The score at halftime was 6-0 in favor of Gordon-Rushville. The Mustang offense had quite a bit of success in the first half as all of their drives ended in Cardinal territory, but three Mustang turnovers and a pair of failed fourth down conversions helped Chadron stay in the game.
By the beginning of the second half the rain had stopped, which made it much easier for the players to hold onto the football. Chadron took advantage of the improved weather and used their passing game effectively in the second half.
The Mustangs took the second half kickoff and marched to the Chadron 20 before giving it up on a failed 4th and 10. The Cardinals then drove 80 yards for a touchdown that gave Chadron an 8-6 lead after the successful two point try. At the end of the third quarter, the Mustangs trailed 8-6. The next Cardinal drive ended at the Mustang three yard line when Ethan Yauney intercepted a Chadron pass. Gordon-Rushville couldn’t get any offensive traction and was forced to punt with Chadron taking over at their own 49. Chadron wasted no time and scored their second touchdown of the night and with 6:06 left in the game, Chadron had a 16-6 lead.
With over six minutes left, the Mustangs had time to get back in the game. Starting at their 26, they picked up three first downs before facing 3rd and 11 at the Chadron 16. Colton Wolken’s pass was just off the hands of Shane Child and was intercepted in the endzone for a Chadron touchback. The Mustang defense forced an attempted punt and took over at the Chadron 40 yard line with 52 seconds remaining, but a third down interception at the Chadron 23 sealed the win for the Cardinals.
The loss drops the Mustangs’ record to 1-4 while the Cardinals are now 3-2. It should be noted that Chadron’s two losses were to Class B schools Gering and Alliance, and both were by just one point. The Mustangs certainly made Chadron earn the win and will now turn their attention to Bridgeport where they will travel this Friday.