By KEVIN THOMPSON
LAKIN — On paper, this district-opening matchup between Cimarron and Lakin looked pretty equal.
It showed on the field, as well, as the Bluejays edged the host Broncs 20-17 to get a good position in high school's second season.
Down 17-14 entering the final period, Cimarron pulled out a big pass to score on its first play for what proved to be the final score of the game.
Sophomore quarterback AJ Cooper found senior tight end Josh Meis on a pass from the 33-yard line, and Meis eluded two tackles on his way to the end zone with 11:44 left to play in the game.
Two series later, Lakin began a drive on its own 36 with 5:50 to play.
Quarterback Caleb Seeger completed three passes and Ty Adams ran the ball four times to take the Broncs to the 9-yard line, but a blocking foul backed them up to the 37.
On fourth and long, Lakin tried a 42-yard field goal that was blocked, turning over the ball over, and Cimarron had the win.
"It was a great high school football game. The momentum was back and forth," Cimarron coach Dough Minneman said. "Defensively we toughened up when we had to and got the stops when we needed them."
The pass play to open the fourth was well run, he said.
"(Meis) ran hard and AJ threw a nice ball and made the right read," he said. "Those two guys stepped up at the right time when we needed it."
It was a tale of two halves in this game.
Cimarron (6-1, 1-0) used two big plays to dominate Lakin in the first half.
On their first series, Cooper hit Meis for a 58-yard pass play over the middle, with Meis literally carrying a pack of Broncs with him the final 10 yards to the 2, and Ty Clark carried it in on the next play.
In the second quarter, following a Lakin field goal, Christian Fischer picked off a juggled reception at the Lakin 29. Two plays later, Clark ran it in up the far side 21 yards and 14-3 lead.
Lakin coach Jeff Fuss said he felt lucky to be that close at halftime.
"We knew it was going to be a close game, and I was disappointed in the first half," he said. "We were not disciplined at all."
Uncharacteristic mistakes plagued the Broncs and yet the game was still close, he said.
"I told the kids at halftime that we played bad but we were only down by 11, and all we were was just a couple of plays from taking the lead," Fuss said.
Whatever he said, worked. Lakin opened the second half with an eight-play, 70-yard drive, ending on a Gage McAtee 11-yard run up the middle.
Then the Broncs stopped the 'Jays on fouth-and-goal at the four, then marched the ball 96 yards the other way in just over four minutes to take the lead when Seeger hit McAtee for a 5-yard scoring pass.
But it was a short-lived lead before the Bluejays' answer after the kickoff.
A confidence boost followed by a huge let down, Fuss said of that scoring swing.
Despite being outgained 395 yards to 308, Minneman felt good about how his team played in such a key game.
"Lakin kind of ran up and down the field on us," he said. "But we try to 'bend, don't break,' and we got the turnovers when we needed them."
Minneman likes where his team sits in districts as they prepare for Southwestern Heights next week.
"The first one is big. Now you don't have to play catch-up," he said.
For Fuss, the situation is just the opposite. They head to Holcomb on Friday, and that won't be easy.
"We've got a huge mountain to climb now. We're not in control of our destiny," he said. "But I know our kids will play hard. And you never know. It's district time; throw the records out.. It's a short season."
Cimarron 7 7 0 6 -- 20
Lakin 0 3 14 0 -- 17
C--Clark 2 run (Fischer kick) 9:19
L--Chavez 27 FG 6:18
C--Clark 21 run (Fischer kick) 3:45
L--McAtee 11 run (Chavez kick) 8:04
L--McAtee 5 pass from Seeger (Chavez kick) :03
C--Meis 67 pass from Cooper (kick failed) 11:44
Game Statistics Cimarron Lakin
First downs 9 15
Rushing yds 141 266
Passing yds 167 129
Total yds 308 395
Att-comp 7-14 9-20
Punts-avg 4-31 2-35
Fubles-lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-yds 5-40 6-45
RUSHING--Cimarron: Nueschafer 10-51, Clark 19-104; Lakin: McAtee 15-85, Adams 19-151, Dasenbrock 4-21.
PASSING--Cimarron: Cooper 7-14-0-167; Lakin: Seeger 9-20-1-129.
RECEIVING--Cimarron: Meis 4-140, Clark 2-22; Lakin: Shalberg 3-21, Dasenbrock 1-35, McAtee 4-52.