(Written By Con Marshall)
It was a game almost like none other—filled with huge plays and long touchdown.
The Chadron Cardinals won 41-20, but the Gering Bulldogs were extra competitive and also came up with some spectacular plays
Chadron senior Malachi Swallow would have gotten the star of the game award. He romped 85 yards on two jet-sweep plays, which greatly resemble the old end-arounds from another era.
But Gering added to the excitement by returning both of the ensuing kickoffs for touchdowns. The first time, Tanner Gartner raced 85 yards and the next time Creighton Beals went 75 yards to the opposite end zone.
Chadron fans were still celebrating Swallow’s spectacular jaunts and had hardly gotten sat down again, when they saw Gering Bulldogs galloping down the west sidelines at Cardinal Field for six points for the visitors.
Chadron Coach Mike Lecher wasn’t talkative after the game, just remarking, “That game was really something.”
Besides his two 85-yard sprints, Swallow also caught a 32-yard pass from quarterback Broc Berry for a touchdown on the last play of the first half. It put the Cardinals ahead 21-7 after Seth Gaswick booted the extra point.
Gaswick had opened the scoring by slicing through the middle of the line for a 33-yard touchdown on the sixth play of the game to cap a 65-yard drive. He also kicked the PAT.
There was no more scoring until 1:31 remained before halftime when Swallow, who developed into one of Nebraska’s best intermediate hurdlers last spring, broke loose for his first 85-yard sprint.
Gering’s Gartner returned the kickoff the same distance in the other direction for the Bulldogs’ first TD. Two huge plays were posted back-to-back. It was a football fan’s dream.
Lots more fireworks followed. Chadron’s first pass after it had returned the kickoff a meager 20 yards was intercepted by cornerback Jackson Harringer, who made a diving catch. After a 15-yard pass interference penalty was called against the Cardinals, Chadron linebacker Gage Wild swiped a Gering pass thrown by quarterback Jackson Howard.
That gave the Cards possession on the Gering 34 with less than a minute remaining on the clock. Berry, Chadron’s quarterback, quickly completed passes of 17 and eight yards to Xander Provance, threw an incompletion, then hit tailback Quinn Bailey on a nine-yard toss before connecting with Swallow, who made a leaping catch in the end zone. Gaswick’s extra point made it 21-7 at halftime.
Another interception, this one by Bailey, gave Chadron possession at the Gering 17 midway in the third quarter. The Cardinals scored in 11 plays. The first was a 16-yard pass to Swallow. Three consecutive handoffs to Bailey netted 40 yards and he also went the final five for the touchdown with 2:20 left in the period.
Gering also put together an imposing drive to open the fourth. It was sparked by a 25-yard reception by Gartner and was cashed by three consecutive runs by a new quarterback—Kaden Bohnsack, the Bulldogs’ tight end the first three quarters of the game.
Bohnsack’s most impressive jaunt saw him bowl over a couple of would-be tacklers and hurtle another for a 22-yard gain. He then went six and three yards to the end zone with 4:16 still on the clock and the score 28-14.
Just over a minute later, Swallow broke loose on his second 85-yard touchdown run. The next thing the fans knew, Beals was headed in the other direction with his 75-yard kickoff return. Gering had instantly answered both of Swallow’s improbable gallops.
The Cardinals added a final touchdown with 40 seconds remaining. It was set up by a 33-yard pass from Berry to Swallow and posted on the scoreboard on the next play, Bailey’s seven-yard run
Gering 0 7 7 6 —-20
Chadron 7 14 6 13 —41
Chadron—Seth Gaswick 33 run (Gaswick kick)
Chadron—Malachi Swallow 85 run (Gaswick kick)
Gering—Tanner Gartner 85 kickoff return (Ethan Prokop kick)
Chadron—Swallow 32 pass from Broc Berry (Gaswick kick)-
Chadron—Quinn Bailey 5 run (Gaswick kick)
Gering—Kaden Bohnsack 3 run (Prokop kick)
Chadron—Swallow 85 run (kick failed)
Gering—Creighton Beals 75 kickoff return (kick failed)
Chadron—Bailey 7 run (Gaswick kick)