HOISINGTON — In a game where momentum swung on penalties and mistakes, the Hoisington High School Cardinals resorted to old-fashioned, smash-mouth football to topple the Larned Indians from the ranks of the unbeaten, 27-9.
In the first quarter after neither team could move the ball on their first possession, Hoisington had a snap to the punter sail out of the end zone with 6:25 to play, and they staked the Indians to a 2-0 lead.
Following the free kick to Larned, Hunter Hanzlick intercepted a pass from Larned quarterback Easton Palmer and returned it to the Indians’ 17-yard line, but the Indians defense stiffened, forcing the Cardinals to try a field goal. That kick was blocked by Larned and picked up by Tyler Stelter and returned 75 yards for a touchdown.
Following the conversion kick by Michael Reece, Larned led by 9-0. That was to be all the scoring Larned would do in the game.
Starting in the second quarter, the Cardinals began controlling the line of scrimmage and successfully moved the football on the ground with a crunching running game spearheaded by 215-pound Avery Urban and the speedy Nolan McCurry.
Aided by several key penalties, the Cardinals got a 2-yard touchdown by Urban and following the extra point kick had closed the gap to 9-7.
A key play in the second quarter came with 4:27 to play.
Larned had held Hoisington’s offense on the 24-yard line, forcing a punt, but a roughing the kicker penalty gave new life to the Cardinals and they then went on a drive and with 36 seconds left in the half.
Urban shredded tacklers as he bulldozed 18 yards for a touchdown to give Hoisington their first lead, 13-9.
The Larned offense could not get untracked in the first half and finished the second quarter with only 51 yards of total offense. Larned’s fortunes didn’t improve much in the second half and the ballhawking defense of the Cardinals came up with four interceptions, effectively blunting any Indians hopes of overtaking the Cardinals.
A scoreless third quarter kept the momentum in the Cardinals favor and as the fourth quarter began, quarterback Taylor Richter ripped off a 51-yard run down to the Indians’ 1-yard line with 11:46 left in the game.
On the next play, McCurry dived in from the one, and following a successful kick, the Cardinals had moved their lead to 20-9.
An interception by Brandon Ball at 11:24 set the Cardinals up in Indians territory once again and the Cardinals methodically chewed up yardage and time off of the game clock.
With 6:36 left in the game, Urban scored his third touchdown of the game and following the successful kick for the conversion the Cardinals led 27-9.
Larned had a number of penalties costing it 98 yards.
Hoisington, after getting off to a slow start and falling behind 9-0 on two mistakes, played mostly error-free football in perhaps its best performance of the season as it controlled the line of scrimmage, the game clock, and ultimately, the game.
It was an outstanding evening for the Hoisington defense as head coach Jason Ingram’s team kept the potent Larned offense off the field most of the time.
Hoisington had 295 yards rushing with McCurry carrying the ball 36 times for 125 yards and Urban 20 times for 95 yards.
The Cardinals held Larned to only 116 yards of total offense and did not give up a score to the Larned offense. Larned had been averaging 42 points per game.
Larned drops to 5-1 on the season and will host Ulysses Friday in their first district game. Hoisington improves to 2-3 and will host Scott City in a key district game.