LARNED — The scene was right out of one of those late-season NFL games in Buffalo, N.Y., Friday evening only it was Earl Roberts Field in Larned as the Ulysses Tigers didn’t let four inches of snow on the field slow them down as they blasted Larned 43-0.
The game opened Class 4A District 14 play for both teams.
In spite of the field conditions, Ulysses rolled up 323 rushing yards led by sophomore sensation Ian Rudzik’s 176 yards on 17 carries.
Ulysses took the opening kickoff and on the first play surprised Larned with a long pass to the Indians’ 29-yard line. The Indians defense stiffened and kept the Tigers out of the end zone by stopping a fourth-down play at the 5-yard line.
The Indians couldn’t move the ball on their drive and on a third-down play, Landon Erway was tackled for a safety.
Following the free kick with 7:39 left in the first quarter, the Tigers’ Ian Rudzik rambled 25 yards for a touchdown and at that point the Tigers had all of the points they would need. They did go on to score 22 first-quarter points, putting the game out of reach.
A 43-yard run by Ian Rudzik and a 4-yard blast up the middle by Chase Rudzik moved the Tigers to an insurmountable 35-0 lead at halftime.
The Indians offense could not get untracked in the first half.
Stymied by the Tigers’ tough run defense, Larned tried to get its aerial attack going, but the wet conditions, cold weather and excellent pass defense by Ulysses stopped any success that Larned hoped for.
The second half was played with a running clock and though the Indians defense improved and slowed the vaunted rushing attack of Ulysses, Larned could not cut into the big halftime lead.
As the final seconds of the third quarter ticked away, Chase Rudzik intercepted a pass thrown by Indians quarterback Easton Palmer and rambled into the end zone from 25 yards out to move the score to 41-0.
Tigers quarterback Garrett Walters kept the ball on a two-point conversion and posted the final points of the game, 43-0.
Offensively, Larned sputtered in the snow and against the stiff Ulysses defense, accumulating only 78 yards of total offense while having possession of the football for less than 17 minutes in the 48-minute game.
Ulysses had great success of converting fourth-down plays to keep drives going as they made 5 out of 7.
Larned’s defense would hold for two or three plays but gave up a lot of big plays on third and fourth down.
Larned rushed the ball 23 times for a total of 66 yards and was 3 of 12 passing for only 12 yards and one interception.
Meanwhile, behind Ian Rudzik’s 176 yards rushing and Zach Romero’s 69 yards, Ulysses rolled to 366 yards of total offense in the snow. Walters was 2 out of 7 for 43 yards passing.
Next Friday, Larned hosts Hugoton in a key district game, hoping to improve on their 5-2 record. The Pratt Greenbacks will travel to Ulysses as the Tigers look to improve to 7-1, with their only loss of the season coming in the season-opener to Liberal, 56-41. Since their 21-14 win over Great Bend on Sept. 13, the Tigers have dominated five straight opponents.