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Cards open season with 53-21 win over rival Larned
Hoisington-53, Larned-21 - photo by Janet Fleske

HOISINGTON – Hoisington linebacker Landen Urban was living a lineman’s dream.

Urban scored his first high school touchdown off a blocked punt and nearly scored his second touchdown in Hoisington’s 53-21 football victory over rival Larned.  

The Cardinals scored on their first five possessions, converting a deflected punt, a fumble recovery by Jeremy Breit and an interception by Landen Urban into touchdowns. Hoisington converted five takeaways into four touchdowns.

Zade Sanders deflected a punt by Larned’s David Valadez that Landen Urban took off one bounce before rumbling 25 yards for a touchdown.

“Zade deflected the football and I picked it up on a bounce. I wasn’t exactly sure what happened until I got into the end zone,” said Urban. “It was a great way to score without our offense taking a snap.”

It avenged an overtime loss to Larned that cost the Cardinals an outright CKL title last year.

“We were thinking about Larned ever since last year,” Urban said. “We really wanted to win this one.”

Near the end of the first half, Urban intercepted a pass by quarterback Evan Skelton and rumbled near the goal-line before getting tackled.

“I was thinking I’d get another touchdown,” he said.

The Cardinals roared to a 35-0 lead Friday night at Elton Brown Stadium.

It was an impressive start for the defending Western Division Central Kansas League co-champions. The Cardinals (1-0) gained 485 yards, 417 on the ground.

Quarterback Tyler Specht passed for a score and rushed for two touchdowns and Hunter Hanzlick and Steffan Dolechek each added two touchdowns. Hanzlick rushed for 136 yards and Dolechek had 91 yards rushing and 68 yards receiving.

“We got off to a great start and our offensive balance was really good,” said Hoisington coach Zach Baird. “We took what the defense gave us and everyone contributed. We really want good offensive balance. Things went really well for us tonight.”

Breit’s fumble recovery was converted into a 23-yard touchdown dash  by Hunter Hanzlick. The Cardinals’ Dolechek converted back-to-back big plays for a 28-0 lead.

Dolechek sprinted past Larned’s secondary for a 76-yard touchdown on the Cardinals fifth play from scrimmage. Dolechek caught a perfectly lofted 68-yard pass from quarterback Specht for a 28-0 lead with 10 seconds left in the first quarter.

Specht scored on a 1-yard run after Landen Urban’s interception deep into Larned territory for a 35-0 lead. The Indians were hurt by more than 100 yards of accepted penalties and five turnovers.

“They stole the momentum from the start,” said Larned coach A.B. Stokes. “We thought we could do some things. Eventually, we showed some fight. We won’t back down.”

Larned answered with a stunning 21-point second period to get within 41-21 at halftime. Kolby Keith returned the kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. Specht’s 7-yard touchdown gave the Cardinals a 41-7 lead.

Skelton scrambled for a dazzling 5-yard touchdown on fourth down. Isaiah Perez capped the half on a 69-yard interception return off a Specht pass.

“We had some opportunities, but the penalties hurt us,” Stokes said. “We’ve got to play better. Our defense played with nine new starters. They’ll get better week-by-week. Hoisington took advantage and made good offensive adjustments.”

The Cardinals took advantage of several critical Larned mistakes. The Cardinals closed out the scoring by converting a turnover into a 20-yard touchdown by Hanzlick and Jonathan Ball added a 9-yard touchdown.

Larned quarterback Skelton rushed for 101 yards with shifty running and he completed seven passes for 97 yards.

The Cardinals travel to Nickerson (0-1) next week and Larned plays LaCrosse (1-0).