Short hauls in two TD catches in 21-14 victory

LUSK – Southeast High School senior receiver Austin Short had touchdown catches of 57 and 55 yards to help lead the Cyclones to a 21-14 win over Niobrara County High School to spoil the Tiger 2022 Homecoming festivities.

The first of Shorts two catches came with 3:49 left before halftime, breaking the scoreless stalemate. His second was a leap grab over a close Lusk defender, breaking a 14-14 with 9:28 left in the game.

The second touchdown catch also proved to be the final score of the game despite one last attempt by the Tigers in the closing minutes of the game.

“We tried Austin at running back, and he’s not a power runner,” coach Mark Bullington said. “We need to get him the ball.”

The Cyclones first score came after a failed fake punt attempt, handing the ball to Southeast near midfield.

After the first Southeast touchdown, Lusk answered. Two big runs put the Tigers at the Southeast 15-yard line, and the home team eventually punched it in with less than a minute on the clock before halftime. NCHS’s two-point conversion failed, leaving the Cyclones in front 7-6.

The failed fake punt wasn’t the only special teams gaff the visitors took advantage of in the game.

Southeast received the opening kick to start the third quarter, and the Tigers muffed the kick and touched it before it went 10 yards resulting in an illegal touching penalty, giving the Cyclones the ball at the Lusk 41-yard line.

It took over 44 seconds and three plays before sophomore quarterback Ayden Desmond punched in Southeast’s second score of the game on a 2-yard keeper. 

The score remained 14-6 until the early moments of the fourth quarter.

Niobrara County scored its second touchdown of the game on a 4-yard run only two minutes into the game. This time, the Tigers added the two-point try, tying the game at 14.

Less than a minute later, Desmond hit Short for the second time in the game for a touchdown pass. This one went 55 yards as Short side-stepped a Lusk defender en route to the score.

Unfortunately for the Cyclones, there were still 9:28 left in the game, and a Tiger team who didn’t want to lose on Homecoming.

NCHS had two more scoring opportunities in the final three minutes.

The first ended at the Southeast 12-yard with an interception by senior linebacker Wyatt Campbell, but the Cyclones next drive ended with a punt with one minute left on the clock.

The Tigers were unable to do anything with the ball in the final 60 seconds as Southeast held on for its third straight win.

Even with the win, Bullington says they need to stop shooting themselves in the foot.

“They changed everything. They went to a whole different lineup and different sets. It was a lot of unbalanced stuff. We worked for that all week, and they come out in a balanced set. We fought, but we have to clean up mistakes. We left two or three scores on the field,” Bullington said. “We still need to clean things up. Sabastian Brumley might be done for a while. They said it might be an MCL or ACL. That’ll be a blow, but we had some kids step up. Luckily, we have Guernsey next week. We’ll be able to rest some of those kids.”

The Cyclones (3-1 overall and 2-1 in the 9-Man East) host Guernsey (0-4 and 0-3) on Friday, Sept. 20. The Vikings have yet to score a touchdown in 2022. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Teeter’s Memorial Field in Yoder.

“To be honest, we’ll probably start getting ready for Saratoga two weeks down the road,” Bullington said. “No offense to Guernsey, but it’s just the way it is. We’ll put in stuff for the next two, three weeks and work on that.”