If there were any doubts on how North Platte would respond following its defeat to Kearney last week, Caleb Tonkinson made sure to clear them.
The Bulldogs senior quarterback rushed for three touchdowns and threw for another one to help North Platte cruise to a 47-9 victory over Lincoln North Star on Friday at Bauer Field.
“It was super important because obviously a lot of people are going to doubt us after a game like that,” Tonkinson said. “So I think this showed people we are still a contender.”
Tonkinson led the team in scoring, but many Bulldogs contributed to the win.
The defense held North Star to just nine points after the Navigators scored a field goal on their opening drive. Carson Uehling intercepted a pass that was tipped by Cole Wright.
Vince Genatone led the running game with 162 yards after breaking free for two long touchdown runs, and Brock Roblee received the bulk of the carries and ran for 104 yards.
Ryan Kaminski, Tate Janas and Wright also had big-gain catches, with Janas’ resulting in a 52-yard touchdown.
“I think just bringing us all together and everyone staying motivated is huge,” Genatone said.
North Platte suffered a blow to its offense and defense when Kaminski was carted off the field with a leg injury following a 38-yard catch that took North Platte to the 1-yard line.
“I can’t say enough good things about Ryan Kaminski, what he means, not just to our program, but to our school,” North Platte coach Todd Rice said. “You see him in basketball, you see him in soccer, you see him through the summer. Our hearts are out for Ryan, and we’ll hope for a speedy recovery for him.”
Tonkinson ran in his first touchdown following Kaminski’s catch and North Platte took an 8-3 lead when Genatone ran in a two-point conversion. On the next drive, Genatone ripped off a 42-yard run to the outside and North Platte had a 14-3 lead.
North Star struggled to move the ball the rest of the first half, and North Platte kept up the attack with another Tonkinson 1-yard touchdown run and a Vak Joseph 6-yard run to go into halftime up 26-3.
“If they know what they’re supposed to do and they know how to do it, just come out and do it at a high level,” Rice said about coming out strong against North Star. “It was important, and I think our guys responded really well.”
North Star started the second half with an onside kick, which they recovered, and scored on a pass to Jace Elliot. A blocked extra point left the score at 26-9.
The Navigators tried another onside kick, but the Bulldogs recovered it and scored later on a Tonkinson 11-yard touchdown run.
Wright’s interception for North Platte set up Genatone’s 79-yard touchdown run, putting the Bulldogs ahead 40-9. On the first play of the next drive, Tonkinson found Janas open on the right side and he scored on a 52-yard catch-and-run.