Longhorns’ comeback falls short

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(Courtesy of Kirk Hutchinson)

LARNED, Kan. — For the second week in a row, Holcomb was poised for a 4th quarter comeback, but fell short 32-21 at Larned.

The Longhorns led early, scoring on their second possession, following a Larned turnover when the Indians’ Mason Perez fumbled on his first carry of the night. Holcomb recovered at the Larned 21 and scored in four plays, with Kaden Johnson finding Trey Cox for an 8-yard touchdown pass. Following the Edgar Ramirez extra point kick, the Longhorns led 7-0.

It was still 7-0 in the 2nd quarter when Drew Hill fumbled and Larned recovered at the Longhorn 34. Six plays later Dillan Smith hit Skelton for a 15-yard TD pass. The extra point made it 7-7 at halftime.

Larned struck quickly in the 2nd half, scoring from 72 yards in just two plays. Smith hit Skelton again, this time for 41 yards and the Indians were up 14-7, following the PAT.

After the teams exchanged punts, the Longhorns drove 80 yards in 14 plays to knot the game at 14. Johnson finished it off with a 15-yard TD pass to Cox and Ramirez added the PAT.

Larned struck back with the play of the game. On third and 17 from his own 14, Smith threw a wide receiver screen to Skelton, who broke a couple of tackles and raced 86 yards for the go-ahead score. Holcomb thwarted the 2-point conversion and it was a six point game.

Holcomb would muff an onside kick setting Larned up on the Longhorn 48. On the eighth play of the drive, Skelton fumbled again and Devon Hill recovered for Holcomb at the 11 yard line. But after a three-and-out, a short punt put the Indians in business at the Longhorn 28. After a two-yard loss on first down, Mason Perez raced 30 yards for the touchdown and Larned led 26-14 with 10:26 left in the game.

Holcomb would be forced to punt again, but the defense forced Larned to turn it over on downs. On the next play Johnson found Levi Knoll open in the flat and the sophomore receiver raced 61 yards for the TD. The extra point cut the Indian lead to 26-21 with 5:37 left in the game.

The Longhorn ‘D’ would give the offense a chance, forcing Larned to punt. Skelton nailed a deep punt that rolled to the Longhorn 3 yard line. Holcomb moved to midfield, but Skelton picked off Johnson’s pass and returned it to the Longhorn 39. Two plays later, Perez put the game away with a 37-yard run and Larned pulled out the 32-21 win.

Kaden Johnson threw for 255 yards and three TDs, completing 22 out of 30 passes, with one interception. Trey Cox had 8 catches for 73 yards and 2 TDs, but also lost a fumble. Levi Knoll caught 8 passes for 145 yards and 1 TD. The Longhorns rushed for only 35 yards and lost a fumble, one of four Holcomb turnovers. Larned’s Dillan Smith completed 12 of 23 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns. Brock Skelton had 8 of those catches for 209 yards and all three TDs. The Indians’ Mason Perez rushed for 218 yards and two TDs on 20 carries.

Holcomb falls to 2-3, 1-1 in district play. Larned moves into first in the district at 2-0 and the Indians are 3-2 on the season. Holcomb travels to Kingman Friday for another big district battle. The Eagles have lost four straight and are 1-4, 0-2 in district play. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., with pregame at 6:30 on KBUF AM 1030.