By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — When life gives you a second chance, you're supposed to grab it and go.
That's exactly what the Holcomb Longhorns did Friday night as they opened 3A district play with a resounding 34-13 thumping of Southwestern Heights.
The Longhorns scored all five of their touchdowns off Mustang turnovers, and their defense came up big to boot.
"It's huge," Holcomb coach Jerry Johnson said of his team's victory. "We played some tough football the last three weeks of the regular season, and we did it for this game right here. We're banged up, we're sick, but our kids showed how tough they are."
Trey DelaRosa led the Longhorn attack with three touchdowns and 129 rushing yards.
Holcomb's defense caused and recovered fumbles and intercepted Heights quarterback Wes Winfrey twice to thwart any offense the Mustangs tried to muster.
"We knew that, going into this game, that they liked to throw the ball around," Johnson said. "We said before the game we need two sacks and two interceptions, and we have a chance to win the game."
That they did, and then some.
Heights (3-4, 0-1 in district) scored on the second play of the game when Alex Adame intercepted Clay Gilbert and returned it 32 yards for the touchdown. They scored again to open the second quarter when Winfrey ran it in from 11 yards.
That was it for the Mustangs.
Levi Koehn scored on a 2-yard run late in the first quarter for Holcomb's first score. DelaRosa's 35-yard run in the second quarter gave Holcomb the lead for good.
Leaton McClelland picked a bouncing ball off a Heights player in the third quarter and ran 40 yards for a score.
DelaRosa scored on runs of 18 and 6 yards to finish the scoring.
With five starters out and sickness hitting the Holcomb team, Johnson said their plan was to work as a team.
"We told these guys at the beginning that if we're going to win this game, we're going to win it as a team," Johnson said. "And that's what we did."
Johnson said his freshman quarterback, Gilbert, got stronger as the game progressed, and with DelaRosa and Koehn working the backfield, that relieved a lot of pressure on Gilbert.
"We told DelaRosa and Koehn that we're putting it on their backs the rest of the season, so we'll see," Johnson said.
That strategy seems to have worked as the two combined for 174 yards on 46 carries.
The Longhorns (3-4, 1-0) travel to Lakin next week to take on the Broncs, who beat Cimarron Friday night to also start district play off 1-0.
"That'll be a tough game," Johnson said. "Really tough. That's one you've got to win if you want a home playoff game."
SW Heights 7 6 0 0 -- 13
Holcomb 7 7 7 13 -- 34
SWH — Adame 32 interception return (Winfrey kick)
H — Koehn 2 run (Santos kick)
SWH — Winfrey 11 run (kick failed)
H ¬-- DelaRosa 35 run (Santos kick)
H — McClelland 40 fumble return (Santos kick)
H — DelaRosa 18 run (kick failed)
H — DelaRosa 6 run (Santos kick)
Rushing — SWH, Justice 11-46, Winfrey 4-21, Chavez 4-14; Holcomb, DelaRosa 27-129, Koehn 19-45.
Passing — SWH, Winfrey 16-33-3-116, Adame 1-1-0-13; Holcomb, Gilbert 3-11-1-40.
Receiving — SWH, Adame, 9-85, Chavez 4-18, Winfrey 1-13, Dutton 1-7, Flores 1-6; Holcomb, DelaRosa 2-34, Pfeifer 1-6.