By BUDDY TABLER
Special to the Tribune
KINGMAN — In a grinding, pounding game dominated by defense, it was a play of deception that decided a 15-13 football win for Kingman over Larned on the Eagles’ home field.
Larned (1-2, 0-2 CKL) travels to Nickerson (1-2, 1-2 CKL) Friday. West co-leader Kingman (3-0, 3-0 CKL) will host Pratt.
“Every loss is tough because we put so much time and effort as players and coaches into football,” said Larned coach A.B. Stokes. “It’s always tough when you lose a close one. We’ll take the opportunity to get better as a football team. We need to rise up and work harder.”
Both teams drove the ball into the “red zone” in the first quarter, but were unable to put points on the scoreboard.
With 7:53 remaining in the second quarter, Kingman speedster Payton Pickering burst into the Indians’ secondary and outran all defenders for a 75-yard touchdown.
Deception came into play on the ensuing extra point attempt. Kingman lined up in the old “swinging gate” formation which appeared to confuse Larned’s defense.
Tal Hartley picked up a bad snap from the center and raced into the end zone for the 2-point conversion and Kingman had scored what would turn out to be the winning points in the game.
Larned struck back behind the arm of quarterback Evan Skelton, who moved the Indians into scoring position. With 5:34 remaining, Skelton connected with wide receiver Isiah Perez on a 23-yard touchdown. A Kingman defender deflected the point-after attempt, and the kick by David Valadez bounced away leaving the halftime score 8-6 in favor of Kingman.
The second half was dominated by the pounding running game of the Eagles and penalties on both teams.
Most every drive by both teams was marred by major penalties. Larned drew 12 penalties for 109 yards and Kingman had nine penalties for 85 yards.
The third quarter ended 8-6 as both teams missed scoring opportunities due to penalties and outstanding defense.
With 10:38 left in the fourth quarter, Larned had a first down nullified by a holding call and on a fourth down with 14 yards for a first down.
David Valadez’s punt traveled 26 yards and the Eagles started at the Indians’ 37-yard line. With 8:02 remaining, Payton Pickering danced his way past several defenders and scored. Caden Knoblauch’s kick was good and Kingman took a 15-6 lead.
Larned’s Isiah Perez and Tanner Galliart rallied the offense. Evan Skelton hit Galliart on an 18-yard touchdown pass with 5:12 left. Valadez converted the extra-point and Larned closed within 13-15.
That set the stage for a frantic, penalty-filled final four minutes.
After holding the Eagles to a three-and-out, the Indians advanced to the Kingman 28-yard line. But a holding call and a pair of offensive pass interference calls pushed the ball to the Larned 45. With 1:06 remaining, the Indians failed on a fourth-and-39 pass attempt. Kingman ran out the clock, leaving Kingman undefeated at 3-0.
“There are always five or six plays in a game where the game is won or lost,” Stokes said. “We just didn’t make enough of those plays. We’ve got to do better in those situations to win.”
Kingman rushed 53 times for 247 yards behind Payton Pickering’s 141 yards. Kingman completed 4 of 9 passes for 27 yards.
“Other than a couple of big plays, we contained Kingman,” Stokes said. “When we needed a three-and-out, we got the job done. We’re tackling better and playing smarter by understanding the offensive scheme.”
Larned’s Landon Erway gained 66 yards on 14 carries. The Indians gained 111 rushing yards. Quarterback Evan Skelton completed 10 of 21 attempts for 160 yards, most to his favorite targets, Isiah Perez and Tanner Galliart.
Halstead 3-0 3-0
Hesston 2-1 2-1
Sterling 2-1 2-1
Smoky Valley 1-2 1-2
Haven 1-2 1-2
Hillsboro 0-3 0-3
Last week—Smoky Valley 40, Haven 20; Halstead 55, Hillsboro 7; Hesston 49, Sterling 8
Friday’s games—Halstead at Smoky Valley; Hillsboro at Hoisington; Lyons at Hesston
Haven at Sterling
Hoisington 3-0 3-0
Kingman 3-0 3-0
Pratt 1-1 2-1
Nickerson 1-2 1-2
Larned 0-2 1-2
Lyons 0-3 0-3
Last week—Nickerson 43, Lyons 14; Kingman 15, Larned 13; Hoisington 34, Pratt 14
Friday’s games—Larned at Nickerson; Pratt at Kingman; Hillsboro at Hoisington; Lyons at Hesston