BY BUD TABLER
Special to the Tribune
LARNED– On a night when Larned’s quarterback Dillan Smith completed 25 passes, it was Hoisington’s ground attack that won the Central Kansas League football game, 35-19 in Friday’s season opener.
The Cardinals scored two touchdowns to start the first half and led 35-7 after scoring three second-half touchdowns.
“The first minutes of the game and the first minutes of the second half really hurt us," said Larned coach Tad Remy. "Hoisington scored and grabbed momentum. Still, I was very pleased with our effort. We showed we can compete with anybody.”
In perfect playing conditions Hoisington controlled the clock and jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Hoisington scored on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Mason Haxton to Chase Robinson with 4:26 remaining in the first quarter.
With just 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter the Cardinals’ Hunter Morris rambled 17 yards for a touchdown and Hoisington took control with a 14-0 lead.
"We played well in spurts, but not consistent enough," said Hoisington coach Zach Baird. "We're not quite in game shape where we can play well for four quarters. You can't have penalties or put the ball on the ground."
Hoisington drove to Larned’s 14 yard line but failed to convert on fourth down. The Indians rolled on an 86 yard drive, capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass from Dillan Smith to Jack Stelter. Fernando Herrera’s kick made it 14-7.
Sensing a momentum shift, the Indians held and Jack Stelter's punt return made it to the 44 yard line. Larned drove to Hoisington’s 26 yard line, but ran out of time before halftime.
Hoisington started the second half much like the first quarter after an excellent return of the second half kickoff by Hunter Morris to the Cardinals 46-yard line. Joshua Ball scored on a 7-yard run. Chase Steinert picked it up and scored and Hoisington extended the lead to 22-7.
Larned’s next drive was foiled when Joshua Ball recovered Smith's fumble at the Hoisington 41. Facing a lot of pressure from the Larned defensive line, Hoisington made an excellent call of a screen pass and Holt Hanzlick scooted 32 yards. Ball scored on a 7-run for a 28-7 lead.
Larned failed to convert on a fourth down attempt and turned the ball over at midfield. Hoisington's slow, clock-eating drive was converted on Cole Steinert's 2-yard touchdown for a 35-7 Hoisington lead.
Larned quickly retaliated on a 38-yard touchdown grab by Jack Stelter from Smith for a 35-13 score. The Indians pulled off a successful onside kick which they quickly converted into points. Andreus Tucker caught a 7-yard touchdown pass with 3:06 left, narrowing the gap to 35-19.
"Larned is going to make plays. They put together some big plays," Baird said.
Following another onside kick attempt, Hoisington was able to run out the clock.
Larned’s offense was almost entirely on the arm of quarterback Dillan Smith as he completed 25 of 41 passes for 274 yards. Smith and Jace Snyder ran the ball for Larned and their ground game produced only 40 yards, 26 of them by Snyder.
Larned completed passes to a bevy of receivers. Luke Wilson, Jack Stelter, Fernando Herrera, Andreus Tucker, Jace Snyder and Logan Erway.
“We have to be able to run the ball better and we’ve got to work on that," Remy said. "I was pleased with a lot of what we did. We were hurt by it being our first game of the season while Hoisington was playing their second."
Joshua Ball led a crunching and versatile ground attack for the Cardinals with 90 yards. He received ample support from Hunter Morris (52), Holt Hanzlick (52) and Cade Mason (35). Hoisington rolled up 275 yards rushing. Quarterback Mason Haxton was 4 of 9 passing for 89 yards.
Hoisington (2-0) will host Halstead (2-0) next week and Larned will travel to Haven (1-1) in Central Kansas League games.
Hoisington 14 0 14 7 – 35
Larned 0 7 0 12 – 19
H–Chase Robinson 28 pass from Mason Haxton (Mooney kick)
H–Hunter Morris 17 run (Mooney kick)
L–Jack Stelter 9 pass from Dillan Smith (Fernando Herrera kick)
H–Joshua Ball 7 run (Chase Steinert run)
H–Ball 17 run (kick failed)
H–Steinert 2 run (Mooney kick)
L–Stelter 39 pass from Smith (pass failed)
L–Andreus Tucker 7 pass from Smith (pass failed)
RUSHING–H–Ball 14-90; Morris 8-52, Holt Hanzlick 6-52, Mason Haxton 9-35; L–Jace Snyder 26; Smith 14
PASSING–H–Haxton 4-9-0, 89; L–Smith 25-41-1, 274