BY BUDDY TABLER
Special to the Tribune
HESSTON – Hesston scored two early touchdowns off Larned mistakes and closed out a 26-18 Central Kansas League football victory with a pair of second-half touchdowns.
Hesston led 12-0 as the Indians lost two early fumbles and lost a touchdown return by Brock Skelton on a penalty.
Hesston converted an early Larned fumble into a 23-yard scoring drive on Jacob Eilert’s 1-yard run. Skelton’s 85-yard touchdown return was nullified on a penalty. Larned drew 15 penalties for 102 yards, many times in crucial situations.
“We’ve got to clean that up,” said Larned coach Tad Remy. “It hurt us against Smoky Valley and penalties really hurt us in this game. We, as coaches, are going to really work on that.”
Hesston converted two big pass plays and scored on Eilert’s 1-yard run for a 12-0 lead after Larned missed a conversion at its 45-yard line.
The start bothered Remy .
“Man, we just can’t do that. We frittered away three possessions in the first quarter,” Remy said. “You just can’t play like that on the road against good teams.”
But Larned rallied with two scores for a 12-12 tie. Mason Perez ripped off two big runs to move the football into Swather territory. Skelton caught a 20-yard pass and Dillan Smith hit Luke Wilson with a 26-yard touchdown pass.
The Indians opened the second half as they smartly moved down the field and scored on a 2-yard run by Mason Perez.
Hesston returned the favor with a long drive and moved back in front on another Eilert touchdown run from 3 yards out to lead 18-12 after third quarters.
Early in the fourth quarter, Hesston’s Eilert would connect with Ben Bollinger on a 25-yard touchdown pass and a 2-point conversion for a 26-12 lead.
Larned’s Braydon Lemuz hauled in a 3-yard touchdown pass with 3:58 remaining in the game to pull Larned to within 26-18. Larned would regain the ball with 1:47 remaining but with under a minute left, the Swathers intercepted a Smith pass and ran out the clock.
Hesston dominated time of possession as they controlled the ball for 82 plays and nearly 33 minutes of the 48-minute game. Larned ran 49 plays.
Larned’s Smith completed 18 of 31 passing for 169 yards. Skelton had eight receptions for 73 yards. Perez gained 88 yards as the Indians attempted 18 rushing plays, contributing to the time of possession issue.
Larned (1-1) travels to No. 1 2A Hoisington (2-0) Friday
Larned 0 6 6 6 – 18
Hesston 6 6 6 8 – 26
H—Jacob Eilert 1 run (pass failed)—5:11
H—J. Eilert 1 run (run failed)—8:40
L—Luke Wilson 26 pass from Dillan Smith (pass failed)—0:49
L—Mason Perez 2 run (pass failed)—9:26
H—J. Eilert 3 run (kick failed)—5:02
H—Ben Bollinger 25 pass from Eilert (Bollinger pass from J. Eilert)—8:56
L—Braydon Lemuz 4 pass from Smith (run failed)—3:58
RUSHING—L—18-101; Perez 10-88; Smith 6-14; Lemuz 1-0; Jace Snyder 1-(-1); H—49-133; J. Eilert 20-48; Max Arnold 15-45; Nick Arnold 9-35; Brady Cox 3-4; Ryan Eilert 2-1.
PASSING—L—Smith 18-31-1, 169; H—Eilert 18-33-0, 156.
RECEIVING—L—Brock Skelton 8-73; Lemuz 7-62; Wilson 1-26; Perez 1-4; Tristen Burger 1-2; H—Max Werner 8-73; Bolinger 5-62; Cox 2-16; Garrett Slater 2-5; N. Arnold 1-0.