BY BUDDY TABLER
Special to the Tribune
LARNED—It was the Sawyer Harper show Friday evening as the Hugoton Eagles shocked the favored Larned Indians 39-15.
Hugoton (3-4, 3-1 District), Larned (4-3, 3-1 District) and Holcomb (4-3, 3-1 District) are tied for first place in 3A, District 7.
Larned travels to Kingman with the possibility of winning the top seed if Holcomb defeats Hugoton. That might be difficult due to Larned’s injury situation as they face the likely prospect of not having their quarterback, tailback, slotback and a wide receiver for the game.
Harper, the 170-pound quarterback did a fine impersonation of Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Most Valuable Player quarterback. He rushed for 89 yards and passed for 354 more in leading Hugoton to a key District 7 win. The win gives Hugoton the ability to nab the top seed in the district if they can defeat Holcomb next Friday.
It was a night to be forgotten for Larned as they suffered four lost fumbles, numerous key penalties and lost three starters to injury. Mason Perez, the leading rusher and tackler for the Indians did not play due to injury in the Nickerson game.
Things started on a positive note for Larned as they took the opening kickoff and moved smartly down the field and on a fourth down play from the 21-yard line of Hugoton, quarterback Dillan Smith hit Brock Skelton for a touchdown pass and the Indians led 7-0. Smith and Skelton would both be injured later in the game.
“We had control of the game after that first drive but we had too many missed assignments on pass defense and a lot of crazy stuff happened that all went against us.”
That lead was not to last as it took Hugoton only a little more than two minutes to knot the score, scoring on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Harper to Haden Daharsh. Later, with 3:36 remaining in the first quarter you got the indication that it was going to be Hugoton’s night when the Eagles again scored on a pass to Daharsh from 13 yards out. The pass was batted into the air by a Larned defender and it fell into the arms of Daharsh.
In the second quarter, following a 70-yard punt that pinned Hugoton on their own goal line, Harper converted a miracle pass for 45 yards that salvaged a third down and 25 yards to go for a first down. Expanding their good fortune, Hugoton scored on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Harper to Trevor Bogan with 6:37 remaining before halftime.
Larned fumbled on their ensuing possession and with only 49 seconds remaining before halftime, Harper connected on a 70-yard touchdown pass to Bogan that pushed the halftime margin to 26-7.
Midway through the third quarter Harper connected with Cade Mechlenburg on a 20-yard touchdown pass that was also tipped away by a Larned defender but fell into Mechlenburg’s arms.
“A lot of strange things happened tonight, including all of the injuries,” Remy said. “We’ve got to regroup and focus on who we’ve got and what we can accomplish.”
Larned’s Fernando Herrera returned the ensuing kickoff back 80 yards for a touchdown and a 32-15 margin but it would be the end of the scoring for Larned on a dismal evening.
Larned had a number of costly penalties and lost four fumbles and one interception. That and the loss of three starters to injuries proved too much to overcome.
Larned was led in rushing by Jace Snyder with 13 carries for 66 yards. Brayden Lemuz added 52 yards rushing.
Hugoton’s quarterback, Sawyer Harper had a night to dream of as he passed for 354 yards and rushed for 89. Hugoton will play Holcomb next week and a win would give the Eagles the top seed in District 7.
3A DISTRICT 7
Larned 3-1 4-3
Holcomb 3-1 4-3
Hugoton 3-1 3-4
Nickerson 2-2 3-4
Pratt 1-3 1-6
Kingman 0-4 1-6
WEEK 7—*Hugoton 39, Larned 15; *Nickerson 32, Kingman 0; *Holcomb 13, Pratt 6
FRIDAY—*Larned at Kingman; *Nickerson at Pratt; *Holcomb at Hugoton