Holcomb rolls early, whips Hoisington
By BRETT MARSHALL
HOLCOMB — Holcomb football coach Jerry Johnson and his senior quarterback, Tyler LaSalle, agreed on several things following their 28-7 whipping of Hoisington on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Class 3A playoffs at HHS Stadium.
It had been some time since the Longhorns had played as well as they did in the first 24 minutes of the win over the Cardinals.
And sophomore running back Blake Richmeier added his agreement, as well, following the first playoff win by the Longhorns during Johnson's seven-year tenure as head coach.
"It's the best we've played all year," Johnson said. "We had a great week (five days) of preparation. It was a short turnaround. We practiced Saturday and Sunday, and they came out and just took control of the game."
LaSalle got the Longhorns on the board first on a 12-yard scramble, and Juan Guerrero tacked on the point-after for a 7-0 Holcomb lead at the 5:29 mark of the first quarter.
The Longhorn defense, which was solid all night, forced a Hoisington punt, and Holcomb then went on one of its best drives of the season.
The punt, followed by a penalty on Holcomb, put the Longhorns back at their own 7-yard line. It was 15 plays and 6 minutes, 34 seconds later when LaSalle lunged into the end zone for his second TD of the night, and Guerrero's PAT made it 14-0 with 8:40 left before intermission.
"We're not usually a long drive team, but we were able to just pound the ball," Johnson said of the drive that produced five first downs. "Our offensive line just opened up holes, and Tyler (21 carries, 87 yards), Aaron (Hernandez, 15 carries, 54 yards) and Blake (Richmeier, 9 carries, 60 yards) all did a good job of finding those holes."
Another three-and-out by the Cardinals set the Longhorns up nearly at midfield, and they moved 56 yards in 8 plays and scored on another LaSalle scramble from the pocket, this one covering 26 yards when he raced around right end, darted back across between two defenders and dove into the end zone. Guerrero's PAT kick moved the scoreboard to 21-0 with 2:54 remaining before the break.
"It's certainly the best we've played in a long time," LaSalle said. "I think we were focused, we executed and we got up on them early."
LaSalle, who had an off night passing (5-of-18 for 66 yards), did complete four of those aerials to Clay Gilbert for 62 yards.
"We like those plays, and their safeties were playing back," LaSalle said of the mid-range passes to Gilbert. "It's nice to have him back when he's healthy."
Neither team did much to start the third quarter, but the Longhorns got the benefit of a fumble by Hoisington's Hagen Hanzlick that was recovered by Shane Bennett. That set Holcomb up on offense at the Cardinal 16-yard line.
It took the Longhorns five plays to score, with LaSalle getting his fourth TD of the night on a 2-yard keeper around left end. Guerrero completed the scoring with another perfect kick. That came at the 3:47 mark and would conclude Holcomb's offensive output for the night.
Hoisington (5-5) got its lone score of the night just before the end of the third quarter, when Hanzlick capped a 57-yard drive (8 plays) on a 9-yard burst up the middle. Brandon Ball booted the conversion with 29 seconds left in the period.
For Richmeier, a sophomore who has just gotten better and better according to Johnson, the Longhorns played their best game since the third week of the season when they battled Scott City before falling 21-7 to the state-ranked Beavers.
"All the credit goes to the offensive line," Richmeier said. "The line created ways for me to run through holes. It's a great feeling to win. There's not too much better feeling than this."
Johnson said the team was excited about the first-round win. The Longhorns (9-1) now have three days to get ready for a long road trip to face unbeaten Beloit (10-0) in a 5 p.m. game on Saturday. Beloit pounded Ellsworth 66-0 in its first-round game on Tuesday.
"We want that chance to go and play the best teams," Johnson said. "We've never made it past that first round, so this is a lot of fun for everybody. I thought Tyler made a lot of big plays, making something out of nothing. And Blake has found out what varsity football is about, and he's hitting holes quick and getting to the second level. He's able to do that because of the offensive line."
Hoisington 0 0 7 0 -- 7
Holcomb 7 14 7 0 -- 28
HOL--Tyler LaSalle 12 run (Juan Guerrero kick), 5:29.
HOL--Tyler LaSalle 1 run (Juan Guerrero kick), 8:40.
HOL--Tyler LaSalle 26 run (Juan Guerrero kick), 4:54.
HOL--Tyler LaSalle 2 run (Juan Guerrero kick), 3:47.
HOI--Hagen Hanzlick 9 run (Brandon Ball kick), 0:29.
First downs 12 13
Rushes-yards 36-121 45-201
Passing yards 54 66
Att-Com-Int 5-17-1 5-18-0
Fumbles-lost 6-2 1-1
Penalties-yards 7-60 7-37
Punts-avg. 4-35.3 5-37.6
RUSHING--Hoisington: Hanzlick 20-46, Urban 8-27, Demel 7-46, Woodcock 1-2; Holcomb: LaSalle 21-87, Hernandez 15-54, Richmeier 9-60.
PASSING--Hoisington: Hanzlick 5-17-1--54; Holcomb: LaSalle 5-18-0--66.
RECEIVING--Hoisington: Demel 1-4, Ball 1-2, Urban 1-21, Stetler 2-27; Holcomb: Gilbert 4-62, Cox 1-4.