May 30, 2024

Once again the Holcomb Longhorns used a bruising running gameto beat down an opponent, with Dillon Williams pounding out 199 yards and 4 touchdowns, dumping the Wichita Collegiate Spartans 44 – 29 in second round playoff action. The win sets up a rematch with Pratt, which dispatched Smoky Valley 38 – 6.

For the second straight week, Holcomb scored on its first two possessions to open up a 14 – 0 lead in the first quarter. After holding Collegiate to a three-and-out at the start of the game, Holcomb marched 56 yards in 10 plays, all on the ground, except for the final play. Trey Gilbert hit Conner Van Cleave on a 5-yard crossing route, and with the extra point, Holcomb led 7 – 0. The defense forced another three-and-out and after a 16-yard punt, the Longhorns were set up at midfield. Six plays later, Brandon Stegman dove in from 4 yards out. The PAT made it 14 – 0.

The Spartans responded with a seven play drive that carried into the 2nd quarter, capped by a 38-yard screen pass from Cody McNerney to Colton Sorlie for the touchdown. The two defenses held the offenses in check the rest of the half and Holcomb went to the locker room leading 14 – 7.

The second half was a touchdown carousel, opened by Holcomb’s 67 yard drive that featured a 17-yard pass to Van Cleave on third-and-long. Dillon Williams finished it off with his first TD of the night, pushing in from 5 yards out. The PAT was no good and Holcomb led 20 – 7. Then the Spartans drove 78 yards in 13 plays, almost exclusively through the air, with McNerney hitting Jake Flamini from six yards out and the Longhorn lead was just six after the extra point. But Holcomb struck right back. Set up with great field position at his own 40, Williams rumbled 44 yards to the Collegiate 16. A personal foul penalty for a late hit out of bounds put the ball at the eight and two plays later, Williams rolled in from 8 yards. The 2-point conversion gave the Longhorns a 28 – 14 edge.

Back came the Spartans, hitting one short pass after another, finishing off the 71-yard drive with a 5-yard pass from McNerney to Cooper Root. With just over 11 minutes to play, Holcomb led 28 – 21. The play of the second half may have been the ensuing kick return by Peyton Leonard, who took the short kick at the 20 and dashed up field 56 yards to set up the Longhorns on the Spartan 24. Two plays later, Williams rambled 23 yards to push the lead to 36 – 21 with the 2-point conversion. The Spartans answered, repeatedly hitting big plays on third down, finally punching it on a 4-yard quarterback keeper by McNerney to cut the lead to one touchdown. The 2-point conversion made it a 36 – 29 game with just under seven minutes to play. The Longhorns stretched the lead back to two touchdowns charging 66 yards in just four plays. Trey Gilbert provided the big play, faking the handoff to Williams and racing 56 yards to the two yard line. Two Williams plunges later and Holcomb was up 44 – 29 with five minutes to play. The Longhorns delivered the knockout blow on defense as Kaden Tichenor sacked McNerney on fourth down and the offense ran out the clock.

Next Friday, the Longhorns have a chance to avenge their only loss of the season with the Pratt Greenbacks coming to town for the sub-state round. The winner will head to the state championship game. You can catch all the action on AM 1030 KBUF.