By BUDDY TABLER
Special to the Tribune
LARNED—Nickerson’s football team raced to a 28-0 halftime lead Friday to dampen the enthusiasm of Larned’s Homecoming crowd.
The Panthers cruised to a 36-14 Central Kansas League football victory over Larned that kept the Indians winless.
The Indians recovered a pair on onside kickoffs and scored two second-half touchdowns.
“I am proud of the way these young men responded in the second half,” said Larned coach A.B. Stokes. “We are getting better and we’re going to surprise some teams down the road.”
Nickerson (4-1, 4-1 CKL) travels to Hoisington and Larned (0-5, 0-5 CKL) heads to No. 3 ranked Class 2A Phillipsburg (5-0) next week.
A stout Nickerson defense forced Larned to punt the first five times in the first half.
The Panthers’ Peyton Kuhns bulled in from the 7-yard line for a 6-0 lead with 8:30 left in the first period.
A 50-yard scoring drive was capped when quarterback Tanner Schrag hit Braden Stewart with a 39-yard touchdown pass at 4:05 in the first quarter. Kuhns’s 2-pointer made it 14-0.
Kuhns scored from the 3-yard line with 11:26 left in the second period. With 50 seconds left before the halftime festivities, Kuhns scored on a 5-yard run. Trystan Isley’s 3-poin run made it 28-0.
Austin O’Toole nearly ran the second half kickoff back for a touchdown, but was tripped up at the Larned 42. Two plays later, O’Toole scored on a 35-yard run and Isley’s conversion handed the Panthers a 36-0 lead.
Larned seized momentum in the second half and mounted a rally with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter when quarterback Carson Smith hit Damonte Phillips for a 25-yard touchdown.
Larned recovered an onside kick and mounted a drive behind backs Kolby Keith and Jonathan Herter. With 10:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, Anthony McConnell scored on a 7-yard run and following a successful 2-point conversion, Larned had narrowed the margin to 36-14.
Once again Larned recovered an onside kickoff, but Josh Salazar intercepted a Carson Smith pass to snuff out a scoring threat. Another Smith pass was intercepted by Braden Stewart.
The slashing style of Kuhns ended with 168 yards rushing on 21 carries. Austin O’Toole chipped in with 72 yards. Schrag passed for 81 yards and a touchdown.
Keith was a second-half sparkplug with 66 yards rushing on 12 carries and he was a stalwart on defense. Jonathan Herter had 26 yards rushing. Smith completed 6 of 13 passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice.
PANTHERS 36, INDIANS 14
Nickerson 14 14 8 0 – 36
Larned 0 0 6 8 -- 14
N—Peyton Kuhns 7 run (kick failed), 8:30; N—Braden Stewart 39 pass from Tanner Schrag (Kuhns run), 4:05; N—Kuhns 3 run (kick failed); 11:26; N—Kuhns 5 run (Trystan Isley run), 0:50; N—Austin O’Toole 35 run (Isley run), 10:30, L—Damontay Phillips 23 pass from Carson Smith (run failed), 2:35; L—Anthony McConnell 7 run (McConnell run), 10:43