ALLIANCE — Matt Klein rushed for a season-high 227 yards and totaled four touchdowns in the Scottsbluff football team’s 49-33 shootout win over Alliance on Friday night at Bulldog Stadium in Alliance.
Scottsbluff, ranked No. 2 in Class B by the Omaha World-Herald, improved its record to 8-0 with the victory. The Bearcats can polish off their first undefeated regular season in over a decade with a win over visiting Sidney next week. A win over the Red Raiders will also guarantee Scottsbluff a third straight Class B, District 8 championship outright.
In a game that featured a number of big plays on offense by both squads, the Bearcats managed to finish with just a few more. Scottsbluff trailed for the majority of the first half before pulling even at 21-21 at halftime.
In the second half, the Bearcats continued to pile up explosive plays on offense and on special teams to pull away. Both Klein and Luke Worden scored on special teams in the third quarter. Klein ran a punt back 48 yards and Worden returned a kickoff 79 yards to push Scottsbluff’s advantage into double digits.
“We didn’t play very well in the first half, but we came back in the second half and responded really well,” said Scottsbluff junior Bo Lofink, who made his presence felt with a number of hard-hitting tackles on defense and his strong blocking up front on the offensive line. “We thought we were going to come out with more of a fire in the first half and stop them, but it didn’t happen. We were able to slow them down in the second half when it mattered.”
Neither team had any trouble moving the ball or scoring in the first half. Alliance built a 14-7 lead after the opening quarter on a pair of touchdowns by senior quarterback Isaac Burnham. Burnham ran in the game’s first score from 5 yards out and tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Tyson Dowler later in the quarter.
After Klein scored on a 5-yard run in the opening frame, the Bearcats went to the air to pull even at 14-14 early in the second quarter. Eric Moreno rolled out and found Taylor Winkler on a 38-yard touchdown strike.
The momentum continued to seesaw back and forth over the course of the rest of the half. Alliance went back in front 21-14 when Mitch Pancost took a screen pass from Burnham and sprinted 80 yards to pay dirt.
On Scottsbluff’s very next possession, Klein pulled the Bearcats into a 21-21 tie with a 59-yard touchdown run.
The Bearcats were slowly able to wear down Alliance in the second half as Scottsbluff outscored the Bulldogs 28-13. Scottsbluff’s running attack was hardly slowed down at all throughout the contest.
“It’s great knowing we were able to help the running backs go,” Scottsbluff senior lineman Jon Maag said. “Our running backs are so good. If we open the smallest hole, they can get through. In the second half we were able to open up some bigger holes.”
In addition to Klein’s 227 rushing yards on 19 carries, Tim Magdaleno rushed for 40 yards on four carries and Worden added 22 yards on six carries.
Moreno, who battled through an injury he suffered late in the first half, completed 4 of his 9 passes for 72 yards.
Randy Wentz was a perfect 7-for-7 on extra-point kicks and routinely sailed his kickoffs into the end zone.
Pancost led Alliance in rushing with 134 yards on 28 carries. Burnham added 46 yards on 10 carries.
Burnham completed 13 of his 28 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns. Josh Matulka caught seven passes for 107 yards and Dowler added a pair of catches for 73 yards.
Despite the loss, Alliance still remains alive for a playoff berth with a record of 5-3. The Bulldogs will guarantee themselves a spot in the postseason with a win over Gering next week.
A Scottsbluff win over Sidney could cement the Bearcats as the No. 1 overall seed in the Class B playoffs.
Scottsbluff (8-0).....................7 14 14 14 – 49
Alliance (5-3).......................14 7 6 6 – 33
A – Isaac Burnham 5 run (Roger Bunnell kick)
SB – Matt Klein 5 run (Randy Wentz kick)
A – Tyson Dowler 21 pass from Burnham (Bunnell kick)
SB – Taylor Winkler 38 pass from Eric Moreno (Wentz kick)
A – Mitch Pancost 80 pass from Burnham (Bunnell kick)
SB – Klein 59 run (Wentz kick)
SB – Klein 48 punt return (Wentz kick)
A – Josh Matulka 11 pass from Burnham (Kick failed)
SB – Luke Worden 79 kickoff return (Wentz kick)
SB – Klein 85 run (Wentz kick)
SB – Worden 5 run (Wentz kick)
A – Pancost 7 run (Pass failed)