By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — In cartoons, Wile E. Coyote can never outsmart the roadrunner.
At Holcomb Friday night, the crafty bird met its match as the Longhorns defeated the Chaparral Roadrunners, 50-28, in a game that was not as close as the score might seem.
Tyler LaSalle racked up 174 passing yards and 107 on the ground as he led his team to a 43-8 halftime lead. They held a 50-8 lead after the third quarter before Chaparral scored three late touchdowns.
Holcomb took advantage of its quickness, using it to counter the Roadrunners' size advantage. The operative phrase for the Longhorns in this season-opener was "exploit their weaknesses," and they did so with cobra-like quickness.
"We have some speed this year," said Holcomb coach Jerry Johnson. "We're small, but we knew we had speed. In the off-season, that's what we really practiced on. We were able to exploit their size and how slow they were with the type of speed that they have."
LaSalle hit Heath Tucker on the first play from scrimmage for a 63-yard scoring strike. Tucker caught the over-the-shoulder pass around the 35 and streaked into the endzone.
The first play scoring strike almost didn't happen, Johnson said. They changed the opening play as they walked out from the locker room.
"We watched in pregame how every time they saw a motion they would come flying up," he said. "Coach (Wes) Wickwar talked me into changing the play and it worked out really well."
Chaparral struck back with a scoring bomb of their own when Justin Fagan cashed in on a reverse from 65 yards out to cap a six-play, 80-yard scoring drive.
A minute later, LaSalle ran a keeper up the middle to put the Longhorns back on top, 14-8.
Two possessions later, LaSalle kept it again on the first play from scrimmage, and ran untouched up the middle for Holcomb's third touchdown of the opening quarter.
Johnson said it was LaSalle's performance that was a key in the Longhorn's first half as he gave the offense its confidence.
"He's a confident kid," he said. "He's a real solid leader, everything you want in a quarterback position."
Two plays after LaSalle's touchdown, Tucker recovered a fumble at Chapparral's 33. This led to LaSalle hitting Clay Gilbert for 26 yards up the right side, setting up an Aaron Hernandez score and extending Holcomb's lead to 28-8.
Five drives and four touchdowns in just the first quarter. But that wasn't enough for Holcomb.
With 7:32 left in the half, Hernandez scored from one yard out just two plays after Brandon DuCharme recovered a fumble at the five-yard line.
Holcomb chewed up time with a 10-play, 81-yard sustained drive, capped with Hernandez's third touchdown from three yards out to give Holcomb a 43-8 halftime lead.
The Longhorns had one more trick up their sleeve when, after stopping Chaparral on its opening drive, Tucker returned a punt 49 yards along his own sideline.
Chaparral's final scores in the fourth quarter came with its varsity on the field and Holcomb's on the bench.
Johnson knew his team had the capability to do something this impressive, but he didn't expect it to happen like this. All it took was finding a way to exploit Chaparral's weakness, their lack of speed.
Johnson said the game plan was to get ahead early and play the game "on the edge" to counter Chaparral's obvious size difference in the middle.
That plan worked and forced the visitors out of their game plan because they couldn't take time to run sustained drives.
Credit the defense for pushing the issue, especially in the first half when they only gave up 145 total yards, 65 of those on a reverse play, which Johnson said his group was too quick, thus missing the tackle.
Execution, precision and discipline were apparent in his starters in this win, Johnson said.
"We have good kids that make us look good as coaches," he said. "I've never been so proud of a group of kids. They've busted their butts and there's not a whole lot of them out. They came out and did what they had to do and it paid off."
Johnson described this game as a "must-win" game because of the confidence boost it would give his team out of the gate.
"The last two years these guys have had to take their lumps (in opening losses), so we wanted to be sure that they weren't gun shy from that. Hopefully we can keep rolling," he said.
The next test for the Longhorns will be at Scott City next week, 30-3 winners over Garden City.
Holcomb 50, Chaparral 28
Chaparral 8 0 0 20 -- 28
Holcomb 28 15 7 0 -- 50
Hol — LaSalle 63 pass to Tucker, 11:43
Cha — Weiss 65 run, 8:53
Hol — LaSalle 2 run (LaSalle to Homer), 7:53
Hol — LaSalle 68 run (kick failed), 1:31
Hol — LaSalle 7 pass to Hernandez (LaSalle run),:07
Hol — Hernandez 1 run (LaSalle to Hernandez), 7:32
Hol — Hernandez 3 run (Estrada kick), 1:19
Hol — Tucker 49 punt return (Estrada kick), 9:41
Cha — Dickey 3 run (run failed), 10:34
Cha — Nulik 2 run (Struble kick), 4:45
Cha — Duwe 39 pass to Fagan (Struble kick), 2:14
Rushes-yards 32-271 53-164
Passes-yards 7-181 3-138
Total yards 452 302
Rushing — Chaparral: Struble 14-87, Dickey 14-52, Masenthin 1-22, Weiss 6-17, Duwe 18-(-14); Holcomb: LaSalle 8-107, Richmeier 5-54, hernandez 6-44, Roth 7-31, Tucker 2-25, Estrada 2-19.
Passing — Chaparral: Duwe 3-4-0-30; Holcomb: LaSalle 6-11-0-174, Tucker 1-2-1-7.
Receiving — Chaparral: Fagan 2-43, Struble 2-27; Holcomb: Gilbert 2-73, Tucker 1-63, Homer 1-35, Hernandez 1-7, Devany 1-7, Estrada 1-6.