LFL wins high-scoring game vs. Tigers

Andrew Towne/Lingle Guide LFL’s Anthony Arnusch breaks up a pass attempt to Niobrara County’s Nathan Miller last Thursday evening in the Dogger’s 55-38 win over the Tigers.

LINGLE – Lingle-Fort Laramie’s first two drives ended as a result of a fumble and a bad snap. Niobrara County High School took advantage of both turnovers, converting them into a 12-0 lead through the first six minutes of the game on Thursday evening.

In the end, five Dogger turnovers wouldn’t keep the home team down, as LFL scored a 55-38 victory over the Tigers. The win kept Lingle undefeated at 2-0 on the season and also marked the team’s first win in the 1A 9-Man East Conference in 2023.

“That was ugly, but that was a testament to the guys,” LFL coach Brandon Gifford said. “We talked to them about that. Things might happen in a football game that don’t go our way, but you can’t hang your head. You have to battle and keep your head up. You have to have a big heart and play for each other.”

That had been the talking point inside the Dogger locker room leading into the game, and they proved it against the Tigers.

On the opening drive, the Doggers drove down to the Tiger 23 before coughing up the football to the visitors. With 7:49 left in the opening quarter and NCHS facing a 4th-and-8, the Tigers went 44-yards through the air for the game’s first score.

On the second Dogger, a bad snap setup a short field and another quick Lusk score.

It was finally on the third drive when Lingle put together a drive, ending in the end zone.

With 3:56 left in the first and LFL facing a third and long situation, senior quarterback Nolan Spears found junior receiver Ned Nelson for a 38-yard gain. Those two connected again a few plays later on a 20-yard completion to put the Doggers on the scoreboard. Kicker Anthony Arnusch added the first of his seven point after kicks.

Down 12-7 heading to the second quarter, Lingle turned the ball over a third time at the Lusk 23-yard line.
However, unlike the first quarter, the Dogger defense got a stop of its own, forcing the Tigers to punt.

But on the next Lingle possession, another bad snap gave the Tigers the ball back. Again, the LFL defense was up the challenge again, and Spears recorded a sack to put a halt to the Tiger drive.

On the first play of the drive, Spears connected with junior receiver Louden Bremer on a 38-yard touchdown pass to give the Doggers a 14-12 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Dogger defense recorded its third straight stand with 5:38 left in the half, and Spears called his number on an 18-yard keeper, extending the lead to 21-12.

The score remained the same until early into the third quarter.

With 10:17 left in the third, the Doggers turned the ball over for the final time, and like the first two turnovers, resulted in a Tiger touchdown.

After forcing Lingle to punt on their next possession, the visitors regained the lead 24-21.

The lead didn’t last long as Spears broke free on a 47-yard run for a touchdown.

It was the second of four lead changes in the third quarter as Lingle and Lusk scored on four straight possessions.

“We gave up more points than I’d like, but Lusk has some athletes. It was a bend but don’t break. When we needed a play and a stop, the defense came up big,” Gifford said. “We had guys playing both ways and some cramping issues, but those guys hung in there and did what they had to do.”

The final score came courtesy of Bremer on a 2-yard run, giving Lingle a 35-30 lead heading into the final quarter.

It also proved be the final lead change of the game.

The Doggers pushed their lead to 42-30 with another rushing touchdown by Bremer.

The Tigers countered with its final score of the game, but Lingle got additional rushing touchdowns from Spear and Bremer in the final seven minutes of the game to secure the victory.

Late in the game, sophomore defensive back Anthony Arnusch picked off a NCHS pass and earned Gifford’s praise.

“He stepped up huge. A young sophomore who stepped up and covered their best guy,” Gifford said. “He volunteered to do it. He ends up with a pick, and the (Lusk) kid only caught a couple more balls. He was right there every time.”

This week, the Doggers (2-0 overall and 1-0 in the 9-Man East) hits the road for the first time in 2023 for a short drive west to Guernsey to face the Vikings (1-1 and 0-1).

“We don’t know much about them, but they are much improved from last year. I do know that,” Gifford said. “Honestly, with this group, it’s just another week.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.