BY BUDDY TABLER
Special to the Tribune
HESSTON — Hesston quarterback Zach Esau passed for three scores and ran for a touchdown to spark the Swathers past the Larned Indians 41-13 in Friday’s Central Kansas League football game.
Larned quarterback Carson Smith passed for 284 yards and the Indians gained 96 yards rushing. Anthony McConnell led the Indians with 10 rushes for 61 yards. Larned lost three fumbles and had two interceptions to go with seven flags for 60 yards.
Larned coach A.B. Stokes in his post-game interview lamented the Indians’ mistakes.
“We have got to find a way to cut down on the mental mistakes,” he said. “They are killing us and stopping drives. If we could have converted a couple of those long, first-half drives into points, this might have been a different game.”
Larned (0-3, 0-3 CKL) will play Halstead (3-0, 3-0 CKL) at home. Hesston (1-2, 1-1 CKL) plays at Nickerson.
“Our job as coaches is to keep these kids positive,” he said. “I just love them to death. They are a good football team but the reality is, we are 0-3 due to mistakes and turnovers.”
Larned was frustrated with numerous first-half drives deep into Hesston territory that produced no points due to penalties, turnovers and Hesston’s defense.
With 1:26 remaining in the first quarter quarterback Esau found Zach Vogt over the middle and he raced to a 44-yard touchdown. Larned answered behind the running of Anthony McConnell and drove to the Swathers’ 34-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs.
With 10:37 remaining in the second quarter Parker Roth got loose on an end sweep and rambled 42 yards for another Hesston touchdown for a 14-0 lead.
One minute later Zach Esau retuned an interception to Larned’s 10-yard line. On the next play Esau found Cameron Cox for a 10-yard touchdown pass for a 20-0 lead.
Larned raced to midfield behind the running of McConnell, but could not sustain the drive following a 4th- and-3 attempt. With 7:58 remaining in the first half Esau connected with Cameron Cox for a 58-yard touchdown pass. A pass from Cox to Zach Anderson added a 2-point conversion for a 28-0 halftime lead.
The second half was keyed by a much stronger defensive effort from Larned as the Indians forced the Swathers into four punts. With 3:27 remaining in the third quarter, Larned’s Jonathan Herter scored a 3-yard run. The conversion kick by David Valadez was true and the Indians narrowed the gap to 28-7.
Early in the fourth quarter quarterback Esau got loose for a 58-yard touchdown run. A Larned drive was stalled by penalties and Hesston recovered a fumbled snap. With 5:43 remaining, Hesston scored on a 3-yard run by Cox. With 2:03 remaining Larned quarterback Carson Smith connected with Dalton Bright for a 63-yard touchdown pass for the final score and a 41-13 Hesston victory.
Hesston rushed for 179 yards and completed 15 of 21 passes for 213 yards. Quarterback Zach Esau was “Mr. Everything for Hesston as he ran the ball for 91 yards and had 206 passing yards.
HESSTON 41, LARNED 13
Larned 0 0 7 6 – 13
Hesston 7 21 0 13 – 41
H—Zach Vogt 44 pass from Zach Esau (Matt Whitsitt kick), 1:26; H—Parker Roth 42 run (Whitsitt kick), 10:37; H—Cameron Cox 10 pass from Esau (kick blocked), 9:27; H—Cox 58 pass from Esau (Zach Anderson pass from Esau), 7:58; L—Johnathan Herter 3 run (David Valadez kick), 3:27; H—Esau 58 run (Whitsitt kick), 10:24; H—cox 3 run (Whitsitt kick),5:43; L—Dalton Bright 63 pass from Carson Smith (run failed), 2:03
RUSHING—Larned—32-96; Anthony McConnell 10-61; Herter 7-25; Brandon Bartz 4-7; Kolby Keith 2-5; Smith 3-4; Nate Williams 1-2; Shevi Martin 1-(-1); Wes Davis 4-(-7); Hesston—36-179; Esau 14-91; Roth 11-64; Alex Hostetler 5-22; Cox 5-5; Max Arnold 1-(-3)
PASSING—Larned—Smith 14-29-1, 284; Herter 0-2-0; Hesston—Esau 14-19-2, 213; Cox 1-1-0, 7; team 0-1-0.
RECEIVING—Larned—Bright 5-122; Damontay Phillips 5-119; Davis 1-24; McConnell 1-7; Keith 1-7; Jacob Simmons 1-5; Hesston—Cox 6-111; Vogt 2-53; Tanner Bachman 3-20; Reese Nebel 2-16; Roth 2-13.