YODER – The Southeast High School football team locked up the possibility of hosting two more home games this season with a 35-16 win over the Niobrara County Tigers on Friday afternoon at Teeters Memorial Field.
The win locks up the 9-Man East Conference championship for the top-ranked Cyclones and home-field advantage for the playoffs.
“We told the kids the consequences of No. 1 or No. 2,” Southeast coach Mark Bullington said. “Now, we don’t have to travel.”
Southeast senior quarterback Hayden Anderson capped off the opening 80-yard drive of the game with a 3-yard keeper with 6:59 left in the opening quarter.
However, the Tigers countered with a 65-yard drive.
Much like the Cyclones first drive, NCHS kept the ball on the ground despite having a stiff wind to their backs.
“They didn’t do anything different. They are just going to play smash mouth and run it right at you,” Bullington said. “We knew we had to keep (Drake Lamp) in check.”
With 3:08 left in the quarter, the Tigers punched the ball into the end zone, adding the two-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead.
“They had those drives where they’d get three yards a pop,” Bullington said. “That is their bread and butter. It was just the three yards didn’t turn into 50 yards like (Lamp) usually does.”
The lead was short-lived as Anderson found a wide-open Bodie Herring over the middle for a 37-yard catch and run touchdown.
After forcing the Tigers to punt on their next drive, Anderson scored on his second quarterback keeper of the game to put Southeast in front 21-8 heading into halftime.
The second half was much the same for both teams, relaying heavily on the running game.
Niobrara County chewed up more than half the quarter on the drive, and the Tigers scored what proved to be their final points of the game.
It took Southeast less than a minute to respond as junior Ryan Clapper sprinted 30 yards for a touchdown.
Clapper capped off the game with another touchdown with 4:23 remaining.
In all, Southeast outgained Niobrara County 343-314, but the Cyclone defense held the state’s top running back Drake Lamp to a season-low 141 rushing yards.
“All-in-all, our defense played tough, but it wasn’t 350 yards that he was averaging,” Bullington said. “I’m really proud of our kids. They did an outstanding job. Coach (Shawn) Burkhart had them ready to go.”
Senior Steinhausen led the Cyclone defense with 13.5 tackles, including one for a loss. Senior Harrison Hall added 9.5 tackles.
Offensively, senior Brant Fullmer rushed for 93 yards on 11 attempts, while Clapper added 83 yards on 10 attempts. Anderson was 6-of-10 passing for 112 yards. Herring hauled in two passes for 46 yards.
“Our running backs, Cord (Herring), Brant (Fullmer) and Ryan (Clapper) did a great job. It’s nice to have that explosiveness of Ryan back,” Bullington said. “You can keep people fresh.”
The Cyclones (7-0 overall and 4-0) wrap up the regular season on the road against the Wright Panthers (2-5 and 0-4). Kickoff is scheduled at 7 p.m.