LUSK – The Southeast High School football team’s bid for a No. 2 seed for the playoffs came up short in a 38-32 road loss to the Niobrara County High School Tigers on Friday evening.
The Cyclones overcame a 26-8 deficit early in the third quarter to make it a ballgame in the closing moments.
Southeast grabbed an early 8-0 lead with an 8-yard touchdown run by senior Ryan Clapper, however, the Tigers scored 26 unanswered points.
NCHS got on the scoreboard a minute after the Cyclones, but a failed two-point conversion still left Southeast in the lead.
The score remained 8-6 in the visitors favor until the 8:54 mark in the second quarter when Niobrara County went in front for the first time in the game. Seven minutes later, the Tigers added to their lead, pushing the advantage of 20-8.
On Southeast’s first drive of the third quarter, the Cyclones drove down to the NCHS 30-yard line when the Tigers picked off a pass and took it 70 yards for a score.
The touchdown proved to be the only score of the frame for the home team.
On the ensuing drive, Clapper broke free for a 46-yard sprint, crossing the goal line for the second time in the game with 4:09 left in the quarter.
After a quick three-and-out, it took Southeast three plays for Clapper to go 37-yards for his third rushing score of the game, cutting the deficit to 26-20.
Over the final 12 minutes, each team scored twice.
The final score of the game came with 1:12 left in the game when senior quarterback Grant Logsdon connected with junior receiver Austin Short for a 21-yard touchdown pass.
The ensuing onside kick went out of bounds, allowing Niobrara County to go to a knee and run out the clock.
Southeast outgained the Tigers, 476-446. Clapper led the Cyclones with 184 yards rushing on 21 attempts and three touchdowns, while senior Cord Herring added 128 yards on 17 carries and one score. Short hauled in six catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns, while Logsdon was 8-of-18 through the air for 79 yards.
Defensively, junior Wyatt Campbell tallied a team-high nine tackles, including one for a loss. Clapper added eight, while senior Kirk Kay had seven.
Despite the loss, the Cyclones (3-4 overall and 3-2 in the 9-Man East) have still qualified for the playoffs, but Southeast will hit the road for its opening round game. For Niobrara County, the Tigers are locked in as the No. 2 seed.
This weekend’s regular season finale against Wright will determine the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds for the playoffs. A Southeast win means a trip to Cowley to face Rocky Mountain, while a loss sends the Cyclones back to Shoshoni for the opening round.
Friday’s kickoff against Wright (4-3 and 3-2) is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Yoder.