For the fourth consecutive year, the Holcomb Longhorns have advanced to the sub-state round of the high school football playoffs, just one game from the state championship game, beating the Smoky Valley Vikings 26-6.
The Longhorns controlled the game on both sides of the ball, racking up more than 300 yards total offense and not allowing the Vikings to find the end zone until less than three minutes remained in the game and the outcome had already been decided.
Holcomb’s “D” held Smoky Valley to just 153 yards total offense, well below its 316 yards per game average. The 6 points were also a season-low for the Vikings. Kyle Anderson, Smoky Valley’s primary weapon, came into the contest averaging 137 yards rushing per game, but the Longhorns held him to 59 yards for the night, with many of those yards coming late in the game.
Holcomb forced Smoky Valley to go three-and-out on its first three possessions and the Vikings had just two first downs in the first half.
Holcomb punted on its first series, but on their second possession, the Longhorns drove 61 yards in nine plays as Trey Gilbert hit Chance Rodriguez for a seven-yard touchdown pass and a 6-0 lead. Rodriguez had made a big catch earlier in the drive, taking a pass in the flat and rumbling 29 yards to put the Longhorns in business in Viking territory.
Following Smoky Valley’s third straight punt, Holcomb drove 58 yards in five plays, with Reece Morss rolling into the end zone from 10 yards to make it 12-0.
The Vikings finally got a drive going, but it came to an abrupt halt when Carter Blackburn picked off a Brett Heitschmidt pass and returned it to the Smoky Valley 39. Four plays later, Gilbert found Andrew Morss open in the end zone for a 24-yard TD strike. The Longhorns added a 2-point conversion and led 20-0 at halftime.
Holcomb opened the third quarter with another scoring drive after a 34-yard kick return by Peyton Leonard put the Longhorns in business at the Viking 44. Six plays later, Reece Morss scored from 4 yards out and Holcomb led 26-0.
The next two Viking possessions ended inside the Longhorn 10 yard line.
Smoky Valley had a 1st-and-goal at the Holcomb 10, following a 37-yard run by the quarterback Heitschmidt, but the Longhorns stuffed running back Cort Elliott on 4th-and-goal from inside the one yard line.
On the Holcomb’s next possession, a Trey Gilbert pass went through the hands of Peyton Leonard and deflected to Smoky Valley’s Lane Schrag at the Longhorn 19. The Vikings made it as far as the seven yard line, but an eight yard loss on 4th down ended the threat.
Smoky Valley finally got on the board with just 2:42 remaining when Anderson dove in from the two for the final margin of 26-6.
The Vikings end their season at 9-2, while the Longhorns improve to 10-1.
Holcomb will host Scott City in the sub-state round, with pregame at 6:30 and kickoff at 7:00 Friday night. The Beavers won the first game between the two teams, 23-14 in Scott City. The rematch will be played at Holcomb.
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