REARDAN – The defending State 2B football champion, Lind-Ritzville/Sprague, came into Reardan and dominated the Indians 27-13 on a cold, rainy night, extending the Broncos’ winning streak to 15 games.
Broncos quarterback Dylan Hartz threw three touchdown passes and Connor O’Neill ran for another. Only some untimely turnovers and two touchdown runs by Reardan’s Clinton Jeney kept the game close.
“Reardan is always tough in this place,” LRS coach Greg Whitmore said between shivers. “We came out strong, but they had a couple big plays that kept them in the game.”
Jeney ran around the right end twice, once for 44 yards in the second quarter and again for 73 yards in the third. But mostly the Broncos kept the Indians offense in check.
“They have exceptional athletes,” Reardan coach Erick Nikkola said. “When you get two good athletes (Hartz and O’Neill) and a line that can block like they do, they can make a big difference.”
O’Neill and Cort Ruzicka picked up chunks of yards rushing, allowing LRS to dominate time of possession.
Ruzicka got the scoring started in the first quarter with a screen pass from Hartz that Ruzicka ran in from 29 yards.
Hartz intercepted a Wyatt Nieman pass in the second quarter, which set up his own 12-yard scoring strike to Jacob Saetre. Hartz then hit Ruzicka again for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 6:23 before halftime.
Leading 21-7 at the break, the Broncos forced the Indians to punt and then drove down the field before O’Neill ran it in from 17 yards out to make it 27-7.
“We are not used to a running back like him,” Nikkola said of O’Neill.
“Our guys played their guys tough. But we have some work to do. Hopefully, we will be good enough to make the playoffs and we will cross their paths again.”
The Broncos haven’t lost since a semifinal loss in the playoffs in 2011. But Whitmore said his team has plenty areas that need improvement.
“The old Reardan-Ritzville rivalry usually has playoff implications,” he said. “Maybe we’ll see them again.”