By Buddy Tabler
Special to the Tribune
PRATT -- Improbable. Impossible. But they did it. The Larned Indians’ Evan Skelton scored on a quarterback keeper for a two-point conversion in overtime on Pratt’s home field here Friday evening as Larned grabbed a District win to end the season for both teams. The game was played in cool, rainy weather but , surprisingly, there were not a lot of fumbles and miscues.
The improbability of it was the way it unfolded. Larned dominated offensively throughout the game but found themselves tied 7-7 as regulation expired. Pratt got the ball first in overtime and the Indians stuffed the Greenbacks on three straight running plays but on the third down attempt Larned was called for helmet-to-helmet contact against quarterback Travis Thies, moving the ball to the two-yard line and a first down. On the next play Thies was stopped at the line of scrimmage but spun away and dove into the end zone. Following the conversion kick by Noah Myers the Greenbacks led 7-0.
During the Pratt conversion kick for the extra point Larned was flagged for a personal foul. The official told Larned coach A.B. Stokes that a Larned player had tried to dive over the line of scrimmage by using another player for leverage. The automatic 15-yard penalty was assessed against Larned as they got their first possession of overtime. Thus, the Indians started with a first down on the 25-yard line, a devastating penalty.
Improbable? Impossible? It looked that way to a sizeable, quieted Larned crowd but the Indians didn’t give up. Quarterback Evan Skelton got loose for ten yards on first down. Landon Erway squirted for five and again, Skelton for five more and the Indians faced fourth down , still ten yards away from the end zone, the place they should have started the series on first down.
On fourth down Skelton found wide receiver Isiah Perez in the corner of the end zone and he outjumped a Pratt defender for the touchdown, pulling the Indians to 14-13. They lined up to kick the extra point but took a time out. During the time out the Larned Seniors convinced coach A.B. Stokes that they wanted to go for the two points and the win. Stokes said, “I love those kids so much. It was their game to win or lose and they had overcome so much adversity that I thought, heck, it’s their call.”
A rollout by quarterback Evan Skelton found no receiver to pass to so he took off for the goal line and at the one-yard line went airborne and he and a Pratt tackler crashed into the end zone and Larned had their improbable victory 15-14, as the Larned sideline exploded. Following the emotional win, Larned coach A.B. Stokes had trouble controlling his emotions but said, “ These guys have been through so much. They’ve lost a number of close games the past two years. They deserved this win. I am so happy, so proud of them.”
Larned got on the scoreboard first with 8:55 remaining in the second quarter when Skelton rambled into the end zone on a quarterback keeper. That came at the end of a methodical, field-long drive by the Indians that ate up much of the quarter. The kick by David Valadez was good and Larned had a 7-0 lead that they took into halftime.
Pratt would answer with their own drive as they opened the third quarter with a 71-yard drive of their own that used up nearly seven minutes of the clock. Devon Koehler, a Senior running back scored on a 10-yard burst up the middle and Noah Myers toed the extra point, tying the game 7-7. Neither team could score in the fourth quarter though Larned dominated the offensive statistics. As the third quarter ended an Indian drive fizzled at the Pratt 29
Larned held Pratt to only 125 yards of total offense, 105 of it running the ball on 36 carries. Larned meanwhile was chewing up the field with 320 yards of offense, 268 of it on the ground on 51 rushing attempts. Quarterback Evan Skelton was 5-13 passing for 52 yards but, most important of all of them was the fourth down, 10-yard touchdown pass to Isiah Perez in overtime that set the stage for Larned’s winning two-point conversion play by Skelton.
Larned’s Landon Erway rushed the ball 19 times for 94 yards and Evan Skelton led all rushers with 23 attempts totaling 125 yards.
Pratt finishes their season 4-5, 0-3 in District play and Larned also completed a 4-5 season but 1-2 in District play.