LARNED — In a game marked by big plays, the Larned High School Indians won a key Class 4A District 14 game by running past the Hugoton Eagles 35-14 on Friday evening at Earl Roberts Field.
After fielding the opening kickoff, Larned scored on their first offensive play, a 65-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Easton Palmer to Grant Unruh.
Following the successful kick for the extra point, Larned led 7-0 with only 12 ticks off the game clock.
On Hugoton’s next possession, Michael Baeza fumbled and Larned recovered on the Eagles 30-yard line with 10:10 left in the first quarter.
A 30-yard pass from running back Jamil Shoemaker to Brayden Smith was good for a touchdown, and following the kick, the Indians had a quick 14-0 lead.
That lead didn’t last long as on the ensuing kickoff, Hugoton’s Ulises Armendariz broke free up the middle and raced for an 89-yard touchdown.
Following a 2-point conversion run by Baeza the Eagles had regained momentum and closed the score to 14-8.
The rest of the first half was a series of failures by both offenses to put together any sustained drives. Both Hugoton and Larned failed to convert on fourth-down attempts in the mid-field area giving the other team great field position, but neither team could take advantage as the first half ended with the 14-8 score.
In the third quarter, Hugoton blocked a Larned punt and took over at the Indians 39-yard line but were turned away by the stout Larned defense and failed to make a first down.
At 4:22 of the third quarter, Larned’s Jeromy Bartz broke up the middle and rambled for a 62-yard touchdown. Following another successful kick by Michael Reece, the Indians had seized momentum and the game by 21-8.
At 2:49 of the third quarter, Larned recovered an errant pitch by quarterback Yates Sutton at the 44-yard line and went on a time-eating drive that was culminated by a 9-yard touchdown run by Landon Erway to move the score to 28-8.
Following another strong defensive stand by Larned, the Eagles turned the ball over to Larned at the 48-yard line and at 6:41 of the fourth quarter, the Indians’ Shoemaker zigged and zagged his way for a 37-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach at 35-8.
At 4:59 of the fourth quarter, Hugoton put together their best drive of the second half and Sutton hit Zane Littell with a 29-yard touchdown pass, and following a failed pass attempt for a conversion, the final score stood at 35-14.
Following a Larned punt and a failed attempt at a first down by Hugoton, Larned took over on downs and with 1:25 left went into victory formation and ran out the clock on a big victory.
Larned’s defense was the story of the game as they held Hugoton to only 191 yards of total offense and continually stymied the Eagles' vaunted running game.
Meanwhile the Larned offense got untracked for 213 yards rushing, led by 75 yards from Shoemaker and 71 yards from Bartz.
Palmer was 4 of 14 passing for 119 yards.
Hugoton falls to 5-3 while Larned improves to 6-2 under second-year coach A B Stokes.
Next Thursday, Hugoton hosts Ulysses and Larned travels to Pratt for an important district game. If Larned defeats Pratt they will advance to the playoffs for the first time since 1985.