Longhorns' big first half bucks Mustangs
By KEVIN THOMPSON
HOLCOMB — Efficiency might be the single best word to describe Holcomb's performance Friday night.
They adapted to the postal creed in their district-opening game against Southwestern Heights, as neither rain, nor snow, nor cold of night could stop the Longhorns as they outplayed the Mustangs 48-0, with all of the scoring done in the first half.
The ring of snow pushed from the field earlier in the day looked like whipped cream, and the cherry on top was a nearly flawless team performance by Holcomb on both sides of the ball.
Heath Tucker made his senior recognition night a memorable one as he scored four times and passed for a fifth on his way to 166 yards — all in the first half.
The offense rolled despite missing senior Corey Roth, who was not cleared from an injury suffered in last week's game.
But it turns out they didn't need him as Holcomb coach Jerry Johnson was able to use a number of reserves in a running-clock second half.
"We've had so many injuries throughout the year at the receiver position that we've built so much depth," he said.
It's what they knew they had at the start of the season, but now the younger players are gaining the experience that will help them in the stretch run.
Holcomb amassed 277 yards, with all but 50 coming in the first half. Eight players rushed the ball and three others caught passes.
The Longhorns might have racked up more yardage, but none of their five offensive scores lasted more than three plays.
It was effective execution taken to the max.
"It felt good to come out and execute early," Johnson said. "It's what we talked about all week. We don't care who's on the other side of the ball, especially in district play."
Holcomb did all the damage early, taking advantage of a Heights fumble and two interceptions to neutralize what was a bigger but decisively under-manned Mustang defense.
Holcomb took the ball over on the third play of the game off a Heights fumble, and three plays later Tucker ran the ball in for the first score.
Two minutes later, Blake Richmeier intercepted Brandon Kisner and outraced the defense up the far sideline 37 yards for TD number two.
On the Longhorn's next possession, Tucker scored from 12 yards out on a pitch play.
Next possession, Richmeier performed two pirouettes in front of the goal line to score from 28 yards out.
On the first play of the next drive, Tucker outran the chasers 42 yards for his third touchdown.
He scored his fourth on a 60-yard punt return on the next series.
Then, the senior led his team from their worst field position of the half — the 34 yard line — hitting Dalton Gottschalk on the second play for a 23-yard strike, set up by a 42-yard pass to Braden Showalter.
The Holcomb defense proved tougher, allowing Heights into enemy territory just once, to the 49-yard line, late in the fourth quarter.
All four district teams started district play at 3-3, but Johnson has always said everybody is 0-0, so the dominant start was just what the coaches ordered.
"In districts you've got three steps. You've got to win that first step, because you can move on without winning all three games, but you're not in a very good position to get into the playoffs," he said. "You want to be 3-0 and we talked about how huge it is to win that first one."
Johnson was happy with how his team clicked on offense and affirmed that his defense is really the anchor of the team, which allows the offense to be that efficient.
The Longhorns gave up just five first downs and 92 total yards, holding Efrain Chavez to just 27 yards on 18 carries. The sophomore had nearly 600 yards this season, including three games over 100.
Holcomb faces Lakin next, easy winners over Cimarron. Johnson knows his team will be facing a tough team that can run and throw.
SWH 0 0 0 0 -- 0
Holcomb 27 21 0 0 -- 48
H--Tucker 1 run (Guerrero kick), 10:02
H--Richmeier 37 interception return (Guerrero kick), 8:24
H--Tucker 12 run (PAT failed), 6:18
H--Richmeier 28 run (Guerrero kick), 1:55
H--Tucker 42 run (Guerrero kick), 11¬¨40
H--Tucker 60 punt return (Guerrero kick), 9:58
H--Gottschalk 6 pass from Tucker (Guerrero kick), 7:22
Total yards 92 277
Passing 21 66
Rushing 71 211
First downs 5 5
Pen.-yds 1-5 4-20
Turnovers 3 0
RUSHING--SWH: Chavez 18-27, Navarette 6-15, Loye 6-8; Holcomb: Tucker 5-95, Richmeier 4-54, Mongeau 4-22.
PASSING--SHW: Kinser 2-8-12; Holcomb: Tucker 3-3-71, Rupp 1-2-(-5).
RECEIVING--SWH: Alvarado 1-9; Holcomb: Rupp 1-5, Gottschalk 1-23, Showalter 1-43.