North Platte built a sizable lead in the first half and held on to beat Fremont, 35-31, on Friday at Bauer Field.
Fremont (1-1) received the opening kickoff and they drove into the red zone before the North Platte defense held the Tigers and forced them to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Jace Lamkins.
Jaylan Ruffin then returned the ensuing kickoff to the Fremont 40 and the Bulldogs (2-0) drove down the field, scoring when Tate Janas took the pitch from starting quarterback Blake Barner on the left side and ran it in for the 10-yard touchdown to make it 7-3.
But the Tigers regained the lead when Dawson Glause returned the kick all the way back for a touchdown.
North Platte, with junior Caleb Tonkinson playing at quarterback, marched down the field and went back up on a three-yard touchdown run by Cody Wright. The extra point attempt by Jayden Dike was blocked and it was 13-10 near the end of the first quarter.
Fremont then answered with a drive of their own and they got the lead again when Carter Sintek found Drew Sellon open in the flat on the right side for a 15-yard touchdown.
But that was when the Bulldogs began to make their push. Vince Genatone, who played two series at quarterback in the first game at Aurora, subbed in for Wright at fullback and he scored from 69 yards out. It became 21-17 when Ruffin ran in the two-point conversion on a run to the right side.
NPHS then stopped the Tigers for the first time and they went up by two scores on a three-yard touchdown run by Wright to make it 28-17, which was the score at halftime.
The pace of scoring slowed down in the third quarter. Each team stopped the other on their first possession of the second half. On the Bulldogs’ second possession of the half, they faced fourth down and inches from the Fremont 40. Tonkinson was stuffed on the quarterback sneak.
The Tigers then moved the ball downfield and scored when Micah Moore ran it in from the one. Then they came within a field goal when Sintek found Tyler Downey on the two-point conversion.
Against Fremont in 2019, North Platte led 20-3 before giving up three unanswered touchdowns to fall, 24-20. But this year, the Dawgs got the crucial fourth quarter touchdown. At the Tiger 33, Ruffin got the ball on an option to the right side. He weaved through several defenders and was nearly brought down. But he used his hand to stay up and he was able to regain his balance before hitting paydirt. With just under 10 minutes left, the Bulldogs had a 10 point lead.
Fremont scored again when Sintek found Glause over the middle on fourth and seven from the NPHS 35 with a little under six minutes left.
But the Tigers never got the ball back. North Platte powered the ball down the field with Wright and Ruffin carrying the ball and they were able to run out the clock to preserve the win.
Next, the Bulldogs will play again at home when they take on the rival Kearney Bearcats (0-2) on Sept. 11.