By Clint Andersen
The Gordon-Rushville football team opened its season Friday night when they hosted the Ainsworth Bulldogs in a closely contested game. The Mustangs overcame first game jitters, penalties, and turnovers to earn their first win of the season by a 7-3 score.
Offense was at a premium as both teams struggled to move the ball throughout the game. Ainsworth had an especially difficult time dealing with the Mustang defense. Of the ten offensive possessions for Ainsworth, half of them resulted in lost yardage. The Bulldog offense operated in Mustang territory on only three drives and their only points came from a field goal after taking over on the G-R 27 yard line following a bad snap on a Mustang punt. Ainsworth drove inside the Mustang 15, but the defense rose to the challenge and held them to a field goal. The Bulldogs could not find an answer for Mustang defensive tackle Micah Scherbarth who spent much of the night in the Ainsworth backfield and racked up three second half sacks to keep the Bulldog offense in reverse.
The Mustang offense sputtered in the first half and was hamstrung by penalties and turnovers, but they came through in the clutch. After a terrific Ainsworth punt went out of bounds at the 1 yard line late in the first quarter, the offense ground out a five minute drive that ended at midfield and changed field position in favor of the home team. The Mustangs’ only other sustained drive of the night started on their own 26 yard line with 5:55 left in the third quarter. The offense marched 74 yards in eight minutes, twice converting on fourth down to keep the drive alive. The first conversion came on 4th and 3 from the Ainsworth 45 when quarterback Tristan Tuma ran a naked bootleg for an eight yard gain. The second fourth down conversion of the drive came at the Ainsworth 27 with Tuma following his offensive line on a quarterback sneak. On second and 13 from Ainsworth’s 14 yard line, Tuma was sacked for a big loss, but an Ainsworth personal foul penalty for a horse-collar tackle put the offense back in business with a first-and-goal from the 9 yard line. Two plays later, Brandon Bailey took the ball right up the middle for the touchdown.
Here’s how it played out: the scoreless first quarter ended with Ainsworth’s first two drives resulting in negative yardage and the Mustangs on a five minute drive that began at their 1 yard line. The second quarter saw a series of short drives by both teams with Ainsworth converting a 23 yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead with 6:39 left in the half.
In the third quarter, the Mustang defense began to really flex its muscle with sacks and tackles for loss that stymied the Bulldog offense. The quarter ended with the Mustang offense on the Ainsworth 14 yard line. In the fourth quarter Brandon Bailey finished the Mustangs’ 74 yard, eight minute drive and gave Gordon-Rushville a 7-3 lead with 10:31 left in the game. The remainder of the fourth quarter saw the Mustang offense do just enough to keep the field position in their favor and keep the Ainsworth offense off the field, then relied on their defense to shut down the Bulldogs when they did get the ball.
The Mustangs will try for their second win of the season when they host Chase County on Friday in the Longhorns' opening game of the season.