By Matt Maizel
In case you missed it, the Nestucca Football program played its first game on their new turf field Friday night, winning the inaugural contest 20-6 against the Knappa Loggers and taking first place in the 2A Northwest League standings. Holding opponents to under 15 points per game
this season, the 2-0 Bobcats (3-1 overall) continue to dominate games defensively.
An onside kick by Nestucca started things off, with the Loggers recovering on their own 47 yard line. A block in the back penalty stalled Vernonia’s first drive, and the Bobcats took over on their own 40. On a 4th and short situation, head coach Jeff Schiewe called Bobcats junior quarterback Zac Collins’ number, where he picked up the first on a QB sneak play to extend the drive. A holding penalty against Nestucca halted the promising first drive, but they were able to force a Loggers’ fumble and get the ball back. In a back-and-forth defensive battle, it was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter.
After another shaky possession, Vernonia turned the ball over on downs to give Nestucca’s offense a chance to strike first, and they did just that. Senior running back Bernardo Zamudio dove in for a touchdown early in the second quarter to give the Bobcats’ the 6-0 lead after the unsuccessful two-point pass attempt. Nestucca’s special teams made a big play a moment later, with Zac Collins recovering the onside kick to give the Bobcats a consecutive possession.
Zamudio continued to be a force in the red zone, pounding it in from short after a few nice gains for his second touchdown of the night. Another unsuccessful two-point attempt made the game 12-0 at halftime.
The Loggers were able to get on the board in the third quarter on a 30 yard touchdown dime by Raymond Ramirez on 4th down. The Bobcats’ defense held tough after a deflating play and it was 12-6 after an unsuccessful two-point run. The Loggers were able to get the ball back after the Bobcats turned the ball over on downs. But on a critical 4th and short, the snap was fumbled by the Loggers and Nestucca recovered to start their next drive at their own 44 yard line. Coach Jackson decided to mix things up at this point in the game, incorporating a ‘wildcat’ formation into the offense. This saw senior running back Bronson Gaine and sophomore quarterback Nolen Hurlimann trading direct snaps and picking up good yardage on the ground.
Early in the fourth quarter, Gaine broke free on a pitch to the outside, breaking would-be tacklers for a huge touchdown from midfield. The Cats continued to separate themselves after a successful two-point scramble by senior running back Cody Hagerty brought the score to 20-6. The Bobcats would eventually get the ball back and run much of the clock down – Vernonia had no answer for Nestucca’s punishing ground attack all night. A quarterback kneel ended the game, 20-6, in an all-around solid game for Nestucca.
The #9 Bobcats will head to Gaston this Thursday, September 29th to take on the Greyhounds @ 7:00 pm. The next home game for Nestucca is the following week, Friday, October 7th @ 7:00 pm, as they will face the Clatskanie Tigers in another important league matchup.