MULLEN--Sandhills/Thedford used big plays and two long runs in the second quarter by running back Dillion Simonson to shock Mullen 28-22.
Mullen started the scoring in the first quarter when Trent Porath found a hole in the Knights defensive line and scampered for a 46-yard touchdown. However, Sandhills/Thedford responded quickly when A.J. Freeman showcased his speed and ran right by the Mullen defense from 52 yards out. Tanner Drews then put the Knights in scoring position when he recovered a Mullen fumble at midfield. Sandhills/Thedford found pay-dirt when Brady Marten connected with Tyler Lee for a 26-yard touchdown reception.
Not to be out done, Mullen ended the first quarter with a touchdown when Porath scored on a three-yard plunge and Riley Rice converted the two-point conversion and put Mullen up 14-12 after the first quarter of action.
The second quarter was a different story. That's when Dillon Simonson treated the Mullen defense much like the steer he wrestles every weekend at Nebraska High School Rodeo events.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter Simonson took the hand off and burst through the right side of the Mullen defensive line for a 69-yard touchdown run. After both teams exchanged punts
Simonson inflicted more damage.
Simonson ran right through the heart of the Bronco defense and made one defender miss and raced for a 65-yard touchdown. The Knights led 28-12 after the first-half. No points were scored until the fourth quarter when Porath scored on a nine-yard run and cut the lead to 28-22. Sandhills/Thedford would hold and the Knights prevailed.
Sandhills/Thedford coach Joseph Frecks was proud of his team after the win.
"The thing that most impressed me about the win was that our kids never got rattled. I don't believe they ever thought for a second we were going to lose that game,"Frecks said. " There were a couple of times in the game when it could have been very easy for us to get discouraged, but the kids just kept fighting, and stayed confident in what we were doing."
Frecks believes his team has a hard-nosed, hard-working mentality and part of the reason why is because of the kids that participate in high school rodeo (Simonson, Freeman and Blayne Bradley).
"We do have a lot of "rodeo" kids that are big contributors for our team. I feel like most of our players have a very tough, hard nosed, workman type personality," Frecks said. "I feel like that is the personality that our whole team has really taken on. Our kids are very hard working, tough, and like to hit."
Leading the way for the Knights was Simonson. He rushed for 214 yards on 17 carries and recorded two touchdowns. Freeman chipped in 69 yards on eight carries and one touchdown. Marten completed eight passes for 82 yards and one touchdown.
Leading the way for Mullen was Porath. Porath rushed for 141 yards on 26 carries and scored all three Mullen touchdowns. Tyrell Wilson added 60 yards on 16 carries.
Sandhills/Thedford hosts Wallace Friday night and Mullen looks to get back on track when they travel to Hemingford.