With six turnovers, North Platte fell to Norfolk 27-6 on Friday night in the season-opener at Bauer Field.
But after a disastrous start in which the Bulldogs fell behind 20-0 in the first quarter, NPHS coach Bernie Madison saw some positives.
"We showed a lot of character by staying in there and not pointing fingers," said Madison.
North Platte received the ball to start the game and the Dawgs went three-and-out. Then when the Panthers got the ball, it only took them a handful of plays to score.
Hayden Johnson gave the Panthers the lead on a 46-yard touchdown run that looked all too familiar from last year to the North Platte fans.
"Coming out three-and-out, we didn't want that," Madison said. "Then we missed a few tackles on (Johnson's touchdown run)."
On the following play from scrimmage, Bulldog quarterback Dylon Mlady tried to throw a slant pass to Max Brown. But it was thrown on the other side of Brown, who was covered closely by Cody Merchant. Merchant got the interception at the NPHS 15.
Three plays later, Kegan Ehlers scored on a 10-yard reverse to make it 13-0 for Norfolk.
After the Panthers stopped North Platte again, Norfolk got the ball inside its own 20 and on the first play of the drive, quarterback Taylor Reedy was intercepted by Levi Thomilison.
But on the following play at 16, Mlady was picked off by defensive end Michael Zarate trying to throw a pass out to the flat.
Norfolk then closed the first quarter with another touchdown with Reedy punching it in on fourth and goal at the one to make it 20-0 with 1:30 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Dawgs committed two more turnovers, one on a fumble in Norfolk territory and the other on another interception by Mlady.
But toward the end of the first half, Mlady and the Bulldogs put together its only scoring drive of the game. With 3:32 left in the half, Mlady found Luke Volz over the middle for a 19-yard touchdown to make it 20-6.
"They were running cover three and their safety jumped Jack (Kenny) and (Mlady) threw it over to Luke," said Madison.
It was definitely the highlight for Mlady in an off-night.
"He missed a few reads, but other than those six plays, everything else (he did) was good," Madison said. "He made good reads (on that touchdown drive)."
The Panthers spent the remainder of the half trying to put up another touchdown. But on the final play, Jacob Hjorth was tackled short of the goal line by Mlady to keep the margin at two touchdowns.
To begin the second half, Norfolk drove 90-yards for another touchdown with Hjorth scoring on an 11-yard pass from Reedy to close the drive for the Panthers.
It was the last points scored by either team. North Platte turned the ball over a couple of more times but the Panthers didn't score on them and the game remained 27-6.
"We need to work on turnovers," said Madison. "(Mlady has) just got to learn how to eat it and throw it away instead of forcing something."
Norfolk 20 0 7 0 - 27
North Platte 0 6 0 0 - 6
N-Hayden Johnson 46 run (Stefan Medel kick), 9:08
N-Kegan Ehlers 10 run (kick failed), 7:55
N-Taylor Reedy 1 run (Medel kick), 1:30
NP-Luke Volz 19 pass from Dylon Mlady (kick blocked), 3:32
N-Jacob Hjorth 11 pass from Reedy (Medel kick), 8:10