BY BUDDY TABLER
SPECIAL TO THE TRIBUNE
NICKERSON – A pair of onside kickoffs featuring Ian Orth swung the momentum as Larned hung on for a hard-fought 41-28 football victory over the Nickerson Panthers Friday.
Larned tailback Logan Erway scored five touchdowns. The Indians featured a balanced offensive attack with 198 yards passing and 205 rushing. Quarterbacks Creighton Haney and Riley Pontius were 16 of 21 passing for Larned. Nickerson gained 206 yards passing and 172 yards rushing. Quarterback Colton Morrell was 6 of 12 passing with one touchdown.
Larned (3-3, 1-2 District) plays Hugoton (2-4, 1-2) and Nickerson (0-6, 0-3) travels to Cheney (6-0, 3-0).
Nickerson turned four Larned turnovers to build a 14-point lead before Larned responded with 28 points.
Larned lost three fumbles and had a pass intercepted when Nickerson finally took advantage. Dylan Huggard gathered in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Morrell for a 6-0 lead. Larned fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Nickerson recovered. Forty seconds later, Keaton Nevins rambled 15 yards for a touchdown. Blake Teichmann’s 2-point run gave the Panthers a 14-0 lead over the stunned Indians.
But Nickerson handed the Indians field position when Larned’s Ian Orth recovered on onside kickoff at the Nickerson 48. Logan Erway busted up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown. Luke Wilson got loose and caught a 52-yard scoring pass from Pontius with 23 seconds left in the half. Now, it was Nickerson that was stunned in a 14-14 halftime tie.
“Oh man! We had so many mistakes that first half,” said Larned coach Tad Remy. “That we battled and got the game tied at halftime was big. I’m proud of the way these kids battled and got an important win.”
Logan Erway’s second-half highlight show featured touchdown runs of 11, 12 and 11 yards. Orth came up big again when he recovered an onside kickoff to ignite Larned’s fourth touchdown drive. Erway caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from Creighton Haney with 14 seconds left for a 41-28 final.
After Larned led 34-28, the Indians came up with a huge defensive play when Nickerson tried to convert on a fourth-and-1 from its own 39-yard line. Larned’s defensive line overwhelmed Nevins on a run from shotgun formation. Larned burned the final two minutes for the clinching touchdown.
The Panthers tied the score 28-28 when the Indians committed back-to-back offsides penalties on fourth-and-nine. Nevins slashed 4 yards for a touchdown with 9:29 remaining. Larned’s defense tackled Morrell on a scramble on the 2-point conversion.
That’s when Larned went on their all-important drive to take the lead in the game with Erway’s touchdown with 4:33 remaining.
“This was a battle to the end,” Remy said. “Nickerson, despite being winless, has good players. They hung in there with us. I’m super proud of my team and how they fought through a lot of adversity tonight.”
Larned 0 14 14 13 – 41
Nickerson 14 0 6 – 28
N—Dylan Huggard 14 pass from Colton Morrell (run fails); N—Keaton Nevins 15 run (Blake Teichmann run); L—Logan Erway 1 run (Fernando Herrera kick); L—Luke Wilson 52 pass from Riley Pontius (Herrera kick); L—Erway 11 run (Herrera kick); L—Erway 12 run (Herrera kick); N—Nevins 2 run (Morrell run); N—Nevins 4 run (run fails); L—Erway 11 run (run fails); L—Erway 13 pass From Creighton Haney (Herrera kick)
RUSHING—L—41-205; Erway 20-108; Creighton Haney 12-64; Pontius 4-16; Herrera 2-13; Ortivez 2-2; Wilson 1-2; N—37-183; Nevins 23-144; Morrell 8-34; Teichmann 4-18; Perry 1-3; K. Engelland 1-(-16).
PASSING—L—Pontius 10-14-0, 171; Haney 4-6-1, 27; N—Morrell 10-18-0, 182; Teichmann 1-1-0. 22.
RECEIVING—L—Wilson 3-90; Jayden Smith 3-56; Erway 3-32; Haney 1-10; Johnathan Ortivez 3-6; Luke Fischer 1-4; N—Huggard 7-154; Ortiz 2-40; Teichmann 2-10..