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Loggers grab early lead but can't hold on, bow 35-14

by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
| September 3, 2013 2:56 PM

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<p>Hard-charging Nic Robertson plows through the Badger line during the opening kickoff to start the 2013 football season.</p>

The Libby Loggers jumped out to an early 14-0 lead against the Bonners Ferry Badgers on Saturday, but they could not hold on as the Badgers scored five unanswered touchdowns to win the season football opener for both teams.

The contest was a game of contrasts, as Libby scored twice in the first quarter — on its first and third possessions on the Badgers’ turf. From the outset it looked as though Libby was in control, especially after the Badgers went four-and-out on its first possession.

But that didn’t last long, as the Badgers whittled away at the lead to knot the score at halftime, 14-all.

The second half was all Badgers, and for a team that didn’t win a game last year, they looked like a squad on the turnaround, scoring three more times to coast to the 35-14 win.

“This is a huge win for our team, this school and this community,” said Badgers Head Coach Ed DePriest, who became the Badgers coach just three days before the start of practice. “Our coach of last year resigned in July. You know, we didn’t win a game last year, so this is huge for our kids. Some of these kids have never won.”

DePriest said his team gained confidence the longer they played and when they tied the score at halftime that was a confidence-builder.

“We’ve been telling them, ‘you can do this,’ and I think when we tied the score they realized they could do it, too. We just needed to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” DePriest said.

Conversely, that’s what happened to Libby, said Head Coach Neil Fuller.

“We don’t have the personnel to overcome a lot of mistakes,” Fuller said. “We just fumbled the ball too much. You just can’t be doing that.”

Libby Assistant Coach Tim Hodel concurred.

“If we clean up all the mistakes we’ll be fine,” Hodel said.

The Loggers started cleanly enough, jumping out to the two-possession lead.

After Nic Robertson’s return of the opening kickoff put the Loggers on their own 41-yard line, a series of runs by Robertson, Zach Crace and keepers by quarterback Jared Winslow, the senior signal-caller went to the air for this first pass of the season, and the ball came down beautifully in the hands of wide receiver Isaak Jones to put the Loggers up with 7:41 remaining in the first quarter.

It appeared the Loggers were in cruise control at the outset.

After each team then traded four-and-outs, the Badgers sought to punt on their second possession from behind their own 28-yard line.

Badger punter Jason Shutes fumbled the snap, and the loss of yardage left the ball on Bonners’ own three-yard line.

It took just one play for Robertson to run off left tackle to punch it in for a 14-0 lead with 1:21 remaining in the first quarter.

That, however, was the extent of the Logger scoring.

Badger quarterback Christian Trocke settled in and found his favorite receiver Matt Sabin whenever he needed a big play and used fellow seniors Connor Bennett and Josh Pluid to score ground gains as the Badgers gelled to give the Loggers fits for the remaining three quarters to pick up the victory.

The play that appeared to turn the momentum toward the Badgers came with 4:08 remaining in the second quarter. Winslow was hit and the ball came out. Sabin, who was the Loggers’ nemesis all night, scooped up the fumble after nearly losing his footing and dashed 55-yards for the game-tying score.

The Badgers added three more tallies, as the game slipped further from the grasp of the Loggers.

The bright spot for the Loggers was the play of Robertson, who was virtually unstoppable.

“Robertson was solid carrying the ball,” Fuller said.