By RON PRESTON
The Rossville Bulldogs have opened their season 2-0 and in doing so they have beaten both Dickinson County High Schools. Friday, the Bulldogs traveled to Abilene and handed the Cowboys a 33-21 home - opening loss after defeating Chapman in week one of the season.
It was a beautiful ‘fall like night’ on the Paul Dennis Field and the Cowboys fans took the opportunity to fill the stands and enjoy the football home opening atmosphere.
Unfortunately the Cowboy football team couldn’t take advantage or make opportunities to win a close and physical game.
“We have got to start making breaks for ourselves and take advantage of those given to us,” Cowboy Coach Jeff Geist said following the game. “We didn’t get enough of them tonight.”
Rossville took the opening kickoff and on third and nine from the 40 - yard line as sophomore quarterback Tucker Horak hit his brother Thatcher Horak on a 58 - yard catch and run touchdown pass with 11:14 remaining in the first period.
The Cowboys right back in the next series and on their offensive play of the drive on a third-and 12 with the ball at the 36 - yard line, junior quarterback Chase Stalder hit Dalton Goodwin down the middle for a 36 yard touchdown strike. Keil Kelly kicked the extra point and the score was tied 7-7 with 8:05 still left on the clock.
The teams exchanged punts over the next three series of offensive plays until Rossville struck with Horak to Horak 61 - yard touchdown to take a 13-7 lead with the clock showing 2:09 in the first quarter. Abilene blocked the point after attempt by the Rossville kicker.
Sophomore Harley Hazlett returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to the Bulldog 31 yard line. From there Stalder led a Cowboy drive of five plays that ended in a Stalder 4 yard scamper into the end zone for the Cowboys with 22.2 second left in the first tied the score. Kelly’s kick was good and Abilene led at the end of one period, 14-13.
Rossville scored 20 unanswered points in the second quarter on another Horak to Horak 34 yard touchdown pass at the 5:41 mark to make the score 19-14 Bulldogs.
Abilene’s Stalder was injured after a 3 yard rush in the Cowboys first possession of the second quarter. Hazlett replaced him at the quarterback position.
With 2:17 left in the half, Horak hit a 10 - yard strike to Christian Roduner for a Bulldog touchdown. Following the point after kick the Bulldogs led, 25-14.
Stalder returned for the Cowboys and led them to three consecutive first downs with as pass of 10 yards to Tanner Hoekman and a 42 yard strike to Kelly and a six yard pass to Goodwin. The drive ended on the Bulldog 32 - yard line with an interception.
The clocked showed 9.9 seconds left in the half and the Bulldogs scored on a quarterback keeper from Tucker Horak from the 10 yard line. Following a two point conversion on the point after attempt the Bulldogs took a 33-14 lead into half time.
The Cowboys scored the only points by either team in the second half in the third quarter on a Hazlett to Kelly 10 - yard touchdown pass at the 9:35 mark. Kelly’s kick was good and the score stood at 33-21 Bulldogs.
Stalder ended the night seven for 12 and 171 yards passing and one touchdown pass and he had a 4 - yard rushing score. Hazlett threw for 152 yards on 13-of-28.
Kelly had seven catches for 127 yards and a score, Patrick 76 yards on five catches and Goodwin had two catches for 43 yards and a score.
Hoekman led the Cowboys in rushing with 38 yards on 12 carries.
There were two opportunities that went against the Cowboys in the game that could have swung the score by 14 points. The interception by Rossville at the end of the first half and a controversial no call on a third down and 13 - yard pass from Hazlett to Jesse Patrick at the Bulldog goal line that was ruled a fumble. It appeared to everyone except the officials that Patrick’s knee was down at the one yard line before he was hit and fumbled the ball away.
“The interception right before half and the possible knee down by Jesse, those two plays were a 14 point swing,” Coach Jeff Geist said. “Those two things change and we win the ballgame.
“Rossville did a nice job and the Horak kids are good athletes,” Geist said. “We made them look better by not tackling them.
“We didn’t tackle well tonight. Our corners didn’t come up and tackle, we took bad angles and I don’t know why we were that far inside,” Geist added.
“It was a physical ball game and I don’t know where we are injury wise,” Geist said referring to Stalder and a couple of Cowboys who seemed dinged up at the end of the game.
The Cowboys will have to play the rest of the season without the services of projected starting linebacker junior Colton Mills, who suffered a season ending injury in practice before the Scott City game.
The Cowboys fell 0-2 and will host Clay Center Sept. 20 to begin North Central Kansas League play.
Rossville (2-0) 13 20 0 0 – 33
Abilene (0-2) 14 0 7 0 - 21
R – Horak 58 yard pass from Horak (Parr kick)
A – Goodwin 36 yard pass from Stalder (Kelly kick)
A – Stalder 4 yard run (Kelly kick)
R – Horak 61 yard pass from Horak (kick failed)
R – Horak 34 yard pass from Horak (pass failed)
R – Roduner 10 yard pass from Horak (Parr kick)
R-Horak 11 yard run (Parr kick)
A – Kelly 5 yard pass from Hazlett (Kelly kick)