KIMBALL — The Kimball football team knew it needed a win over Bridgeport on Friday to keep its Class C-2 state playoffs hopes alive.
The Longhorns ended up getting that all-important victory – barely.
Kimball scored its only points of the game in the first quarter, and its defense did the rest, shutting out Bridgeport as the Longhorns escaped with a 7-0 victory.
“It was a really big win for us,” Kimball coach Chauncey Pedersen said. “We basically told them before the game that it’s one and done. If we want to stick to one of our goals of making the playoffs, we need to win our last two games.”
Kimball isn’t guaranteed a playoff spot yet, but a win over Bayard on Thursday night would appear to put the Longhorns in good position to earn a postseason berth.
Grabbing a win over Bayard, however, won’t be easy, Pedersen said. Kickoff between Kimball (3-4) and Bayard (3-4) is set for 7 p.m.
“It’s going to be a challenge. Bayard has been playing well,” Pedersen said.
But so has Kimball, which has now won three of its last four games. It’s certainly been a nice turnaround for a Longhorn squad that opened the season with three straight losses.
Pedersen said Kimball didn’t play its best game overall Friday, but the Longhorns did put together perhaps their best defensive performance of the year. Kimball came up big at key times, Pedersen said, even holding Bridgeport without a first down on several fourth-down plays.
Turnovers also played a big role in Kimball’s performance, as the Longhorn defense came up with five of them.
“A lot of big breaks went our way,” Pedersen said. “The turnovers were huge. It just seemed like every time we needed a stop, we got one.”
Pedersen lauded his defense for keeping Bridgeport out of the end zone.
“We knew all along that Bridgeport was going to be tough,” he said. “They’re a big-play team. They do things well. We knew that we couldn’t give up the big plays, and our guys didn’t.”
Kimball’s offense, meanwhile, had its own difficulty trying to put points on the scoreboard. Fortunately for the Longhorns, they did reach paydirt once — on about a 20-yard touchdown pass from Austin Pile to Michael Ferguson on Kimball’s second possession of the game. Enrique Cajero added the point-after kick.
Pedersen credited Bridgeport for playing solid defense.
“Bridgeport stepped up,” Pedersen said. “They played well defensively. Coach [Jerod] Dean does a great job with them. They played hard.”
Pedersen said his team did have some bright moments offensively; however, they often hurt themselves.
“We just couldn’t convert,” he said. “We’d have big gains, but then we would have a holding penalty or another penalty that would push us back and negate a big play.”
While Kimball will look to pick up a key win Thursday at Bayard in the teams’ final game of the regular season, Bridgeport (1-6) will wrap up its regular season next Friday at home against Perkins County (6-1).