May 30, 2024

Longhorns outlast the Greenbacks to advance in state playoffs

Courtesy of Kirk Hutchinson
Holcomb, Kan. (–Behind 251 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns from Damon Mesa and a defense that made critical stops, the Holcomb Longhorns outlasted the Pratt Greenbacks 35-20 in the opening round of the playoffs. It marked the first playoff win for first-year head coach Trey Teeter.

“This is something we’ve worked for from the beginning of summer and sometimes you have to go through some not fun things in order to achieve something that’s rewarding in the long run,” Teeter said after the game. “And we were rewarded tonight. We had to fight our tails off for four quarters to win. This was special. I’m really happy for all of our dudes.”

Pratt took the opening kick-off and drove to the Holcomb 31, before the Longhorns turned them over on downs. Holcomb then drove 69 yards in seven plays, capped off by a 7-yard Damon Mesa run and Manny Anguiano’s extra point made it 7-0.

The Greenbacks responded with a 71-yard drive, with Max Younie hitting Arley Morrell for 14 yards and a TD on a 4th-down play. Holcomb stopped the 2-point conversion and the Longhorns still led 7-6.

The Longhorns punched back after Korbin Johnson returned the kick-off to midfield. Ten plays later, Damon Mesa again scored from 7 yards out. Jayden Olvedo, substituting as the placekicker for the injured Anguiano, split the uprights, and Holcomb led 14-6 in the 2nd quarter.

Pratt would drive to the Holcomb 37-yard line, but the defense held and the Longhorns got the ball back. Holcomb had to overcome a couple of penalties along the way, but Mesa finished off the 11-play, 63-yard drive with a 14-yard run and Holcomb led 20-6 with just 57 seconds to play in the 1st half.

The Greenbacks struck quickly, starting from their 37-yard line and racing downfield in just three plays. Taye Wilson scored on a 10-yard run with 10 seconds remaining. The 2-point conversion made the score 20-14 in favor of Holcomb at the half.

Mesa finished the 1st half with 147 yards rushing and 3 TDs.

“The way the game unfolded, Damon had the hot hand,” Coach Teeter said, “and when you’re in a playoff game, you’re going to feed the hot hand.”

Holcomb opened the 2nd half with a 66-yard, 8-play drive. Mesa punched it in from two yards out and the Longhorns completed a two-point conversion to stretch the lead to 28-14.

The next drive by Pratt ended inside the Longhorn 10. The Greenbacks had a 2nd-and-goal at the three-yard line, but a tackle for loss and an incomplete pass ended the threat.

The Longhorns only picked up one first down, as penalties stalled the drive and Holcomb had to punt from the 15-yard line. Pratt took over at the Longhorn 48 and Max Younie scored three plays later on a two-yard run. The two-point conversion was no good, but the Greenbacks were back within one score, 28-20, with 8:23 left in the game.

The Longhorns stalled on their next possession and a short punt gave the Greenbacks the ball at their own 44. But a running play that was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, a penalty, and three incomplete passes turned the ball back over the Longhorns at the Pratt 39.

Mesa scored five plays later on a 20-yard run and Holcomb led 35-20 after the Olvedo PAT, with 2:09 to play.

The Longhorn ‘D’ stopped Pratt on four straight plays and the offense ran out the clock to secure the 35-20 win.

“Two really good football teams,” Teeter said afterward. “They’re very well-coached.”

Damon Mesa finished the night with 251 yards rushing on 33 carries, scoring all five Longhorn touchdowns.

Teeter had high praise for the guys blocking up front, saying “Big kudos to our offensive line. I thought they played extremely well tonight. I thought we did a really good job of controlling the line of scrimmage.”

Holcomb rushed for 294 yards as a team and added 45 yards through the air for 339 yards total offense. Pratt rushed for 184 yards and threw for 140 yards, 324 yards total offense. But the Longhorns stopped the Greenbacks on fourth down five times during the game, including the big stand just outside the end zone.

Holcomb improves to 7-2 and will match up against unbeaten Cheney, which ended Andale’s 57-game winning streak earlier this season.

“They’re a special team,” Teeter remarked. “They’ve got a phenomenal quarterback; he’s lighting up the numbers. They have a division-one wide receiver, Jack Voth. Their offensive line is very well-coached. They’re a solid football team.”

The game will kick off at 7:00 Friday night, with the pregame beginning at 6:30 on KBUF 1030 AM and 107.1 FM.