Tigers' season comes tom premature end with OT loss

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Despite rushing for 279 yards and totaling 370 yards of offense, the top-seeded Wellington Tigers were unable to get past the No. 4-seeded North Platte Panthers in the semifinal round of Class 1, District 7 play Friday.

North Platte won 34-28 on the strength of touchdown run in overtime.

"This was definitely not the ending to the season that we were all looking for," WNHS head coach Quenton Bainbridge said. "We made some mistakes in the game, and North Platte took advantage.

"In the playoffs, it seems that the team that makes the most big plays comes away with the win. Tonight, North Platte had more big plays than us, and they deserved the win."

The game was tied 20-20 at the half and the Tigers led 28-20 into the fourth quarter.

But North Platte was able to overcome a turnover and force two four-and-out possessions from the Tigers to stay in the game down the stretch.

Despite the turnover on downs, the Tigers' defense had a chance to win the game.

But the Panthers' Jordan Hendricks busted loose on a 75-yard touchdown run late in regulation. Anthony Hernandez added the two-point run to tie the game.

There still was time for the Tigers to retake the lead before the end of regulation, but North Platte's defense forced another turnover on downs and ran out the clock to set up the extra session.

In the overtime, the Panthers made another stop.

Then North Platte ended the game on a 25-yard run by Hendricks.

The loss overshadowed big nights on the ground by Jordan Hill and Dallas Reynolds, as each surpassed the century mark.

Hill rushed for 155 yards in 25 totes, including a 10-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Reynolds, who had a tough night throwing the ball in completing only six of 16 attempts for 91 yards, rushed for 135 yards in 21 carries and touchdowns of 30 and 53 yards in the second quarter and 5 yards in the third quarter.

Reynolds' 30-yard run to the end zone increased Wellington's lead to 12-0, but North Platte answered with a 20-yard scoring pass from Hernandez to Ben French.

The Tigers responded on a 53-yard run by Reynolds, but North Platte scored the final two touchdowns of the first half on a 70-yard pass from Hernandez to Kyle Ewing and an 89-yard strike from Hernandez to Hendricks.

North Platte rolled up 437 yards of offense, including 195 on the ground.

Reynolds also had a big night on defense with 14 total tackles, including 10 solos and two for a loss. Tristan Green finished with eight tackles (five solos), two sacks, three tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. Dillon Brisbin added seven solos, one assist, a sack and a tackle for loss.

The 5-6 Panthers move on to the district title game to play second-seeded West Platte, a 42-8 winner over Mid-Buchanan in the other semifinal. West Platte also is 5-6, including a 48-14 victory at North Platte in week five on Sept. 18.

The Tigers, who finished the season 9-2 overall, including an I-70 Conference title with a perfect 7-0 slate, will lose six seniors to graduation -- Reynolds, Green, Blake Gray, Zach Jenkins, Luke Schaberg and Brock Brockmeyer.

"Our group of seniors have been the backbone of our success all year, and they deserve a lot of credit for getting our program back on track," Bainbridge said. "Many of them started as sophomores until now, and had to grow tremendously as young men in order for us to have this opportunity. It is a special group of young men, and we all wish things could have ended differently."

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