ARNOLD — South Loup won the battle of the Bobcats with a shutout victory over Hemingford on Friday.
South Loup’s blend on both sides of the football overwhelmed Hemingford in a 35-0 win to earn head coach Matt Jagler’s first at the helm.
"We played a lot better than we did last week," Jagler said of a 38-34 season-opening loss to Sutherland. "We fixed the simple things and played a lot better all around, especially our line."
South Loup’s (1-1) offensive line paved the way for 274 total yards on offense against Hemingford (1-1), opening the sort of gaps that senior running back Jace Connell churned into 153 rushing yards with two touchdowns.
"Our running game was tough," Jagler said. "They changed and went into that 3-3 and it kind of took us for a loop because we hadn’t practiced against it, but we did great. And that started with the guys up front."
South Loup quickly established their running attack, opening the game with a 46-yard touchdown carry from Jace Connell in the first quarter. The Bobcats, despite coming up empty the rest of the quarter, also kept Hemingford from scoring in their first four drives, forcing a touchback and two three-and-outs.
Then it happened.
With 23 of the team’s 30-yard drive coming from Connell, South Loup turned to the senior tailback again, punching one in from three yards out to start pulling away in the second quarter.
South Loup’s Drew Vickers then added another touchdown on the following drive, scoring on a 19-yard pass from Trevor Ross, who finished with 55 passing yards and two touchdowns.
With Hemingford stacking the box to stop the run, South Loup turned to Ross’ arm, again, which connected with Connell on a 28-yard pass to set up a 17-yard touchdown carry by Sam Cool to extend South Loup’s lead to 28-0 at halftime.
"Once we started controlling the ball, it set up the pass real easily," Jagler said. "It was really nice to be able to pass and keep (Hemingford) honest."
On the defensive end, South Loup held Hemingford’s offense to 68 yards on 21 plays in the first half, a theme that continued in the second.
Hemingford opened the second half with possession, milking over 8 minutes, 30 seconds off the clock in search of their first touchdown.
South Loup, however, ended the drive with an interception by Vickers.
"We liked it," Jagler said. "It was like an 8-minute drive, but we made them work for it. And that worked out well for us."
The Bobcats parlayed the defensive stop with a 3-yard Ross touchdown pass to Grant Jones with 18 seconds left in the third quarter, extending their lead to 35-0.
Hemingford, again, worked their way down to the South Loup 6-yard line in the fourth quarter with minutes winding, but another turnover in the form of a fumble derailed their final hopes of scoring.
South Loup will host their next game against Ainsworth on Sept. 13.
South Loup (1-1) 6 22 7 0 — 35
Hemingford (1-1) 0 0 0 0 — 0
S: Jace Connell 46 run (2-pt conversion no good)
S: Connell 3 run (2-pt conversion good)
S: Trevor Ross 19 pass to Drew Vickers (2-pt conversion good)
S: Sam Cool 17 run (2-pt conversion no good)
S: Ross 3 pass to Grant Jones (PAT good)