February 28, 2024

Longhorns ground Eagles for sixth win of the season

Courtesy of Kirk Hutchinson
Holcomb, Kan. (westernkansasnews.com)–The Holcomb Longhorns jumped out to a 21-0 lead barely more than 12 minutes into the game and then held off the Hugoton Eagles for a 24-17 win Friday night.

Big plays on offense and defense boosted the Longhorns to the early lead. After Khai Cosner fumbled on the second play of the game, Holcomb’s defense stuffed Hugoton for no gain on three plays and got the ball back on a punt.

On the first play of the Longhorns’ second offensive series, Cosner raced 79 yards for the game’s first touchdown. Cosner would lead all rushers with 177 yards on 16 carries. Chris Palacios added the extra point for a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

Following the kickoff, the Eagles fumbled on their next play and Kooper Tichenor pounced on the loose ball, giving Holcomb a first down at the Hugoton 27. Four plays later, Damon Mesa picked his way through defenders to score and the Longhorns led 13-0 with 7:47 to play in the 1st quarter.

Hugoton went three-and-out again and had to punt. The Longhorns drove from their 31 to the Eagle 25, but failed to convert on a fourth down play. Again, the Longhorn ‘D’ held the Eagles to a three-and-out. A 53-yard punt pushed the Longhorns back to their 17 to start the next series.

A running play was stopped for no gain on the last play of the 1st quarter, but on the first play of the 2nd quarter, Manny Reyes romped 83 yards for a touchdown. The 2-point conversion was good and Holcomb led 21-0 just 12 seconds into the 2nd quarter. Reyes would finish the night with 124 yards on 8 carries. The Longhorns would rush for 263 yards and three TDs in the 1st half, finishing the night with 351 yards on the ground. Holcomb would attempt only one pass all night and that fell incomplete.

The Eagles found their offense on the next drive, getting a big 48-yard pass completion from quarterback Isaac Martin to Santiago Macias to the Longhorn 9. Macias ran it in on the next play and Christian Zizumbo added the extra point to cut Holcomb’s lead to 21-7.

After Holcomb’s offense stalled on the next series, Hugoton started its next drive on the Longhorn 47 with more than eight minutes to play in the half. The Eagles would eat up all but 31 seconds, driving to the four yard line. A bad snap sailed over Martin’s head and by the time he corralled the football, two Longhorn defenders were there for the tackle. A third-down pass fell incomplete and Zizumbo hit a 32-yard field goal to make the score 21-10 at halftime in favor of the Longhorns.

Hugoton started the third quarter with a drive that carried the Eagles to the Longhorn 17, but a major penalty pushed the Eagles back to the 46 yard line and the Longhorns were able to force a punt. Holcomb would not gain a first down and Palacios had to punt from just outside the Longhorn end zone. That gave the Eagles the ball on their own 49, but the Longhorns turned them away again stopping a fourth-and-one run by the six-foot-two, 205-pound Martin.

Holcomb then drove from its own 42 to the Hugoton six, with Palacios nailing a 24-yard field goal for the Longhorns’ only point of the 2nd half. That pushed Holcomb’s lead to 24-10, with 10:18 remaining in the game.

Hugoton drove to the Holcomb 31, but on fourth-and-11 from the 32 yard line, Martin’s pass to the goal line was picked off by Palacios. The Longhorns took over on their own 2, but could only move the ball to the 5. That set up a punt from the end zone which was partially blocked. Macias scooped up the loose ball on the 3 yard line and bounced into the end zone. Zizumbo’s extra point trimmed the Longhorn lead to 24-17, with 6:19 left in the game.

The Longhorns took over on their own 27 following the kickoff and never gave the ball back, driving to the Eagle 25 in nine plays. On fourth down from the Hugoton 25, Damon Mesa pushed forward two yards, enough for a first down that enabled Holcomb to run out the clock. The Longhorns would put up 351 yards total offense, all on the ground, holding the Eagles to 195 yards total offense, 88 yards through the air and 107 on the ground.

With the 24-17 win, Holcomb improves to 6-1 on the season, 3-1 in district play. The win seals second place in the district and guarantees the Longhorns a home playoff game. Hugoton drops to 5-2 overall and 1-2 in district play. The Eagles travel to Goodland to try to secure third place in the district. Holcomb finishes the regular season with a non-district game at Southwestern Heights.