In a seesaw battle that saw a combined 10 touchdowns and five lead changes, the Holcomb Longhorns lost to the Colby Eagles for the first time since 2010, 38-34, Friday night in Colby.
“It was a phenomenal game between the two teams," Holcomb head coach Kent Teeter said. "It was a back-and-forth game that we all thought was going to come down to whoever had the ball last."
The game started slow, as neither team scored on their opening drive. On their second drive of the game, the Eagles marched down the field, but Colby senior quarterback Jordan Schippers fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Holcomb senior River Amos, setting up the Longhorns (1-2) on their own 45-yard line.
Nine plays later, Amos capitalized on the fumble he recovered, scoring on an 11-yard tight end screen pass from senior quarterback Peyton Ortner.
Colby had been successful running the ball in the first quarter, only stopping themselves with turnovers and penalties. The Eagles' (3-0) offensive persistence finally paid off on senior Isaac Rosales’ 7-yard touchdown run to put Colby on the scoreboard. The two-point conversion was successful, which gave Colby the 8-7 lead with 7:28 left in the first half.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Longhorns fumbled and the Eagles recovered at the Holcomb 34. On the very next play, Rosales ran down the middle of the Longhorn defense and scored his second touchdown in 17 seconds, giving Colby a 14-7 lead.
“We fumbled the kickoff that allowed them to score back-to-back touchdowns. They also had a big play at the end, a sack, at the end that essentially ended our drive to close the game. We had a good drive until then,” Teeter said.
Holcomb answered right back on its next drive, with Ortner scoring his first of two rushing touchdowns on a 4-yard run, and after the extra point, the Longhorns and Eagles were tied at 14 with 1:33 left before halftime.
Colby marched down the field on a 65-yard, 5-play drive that only took 1:04 to score. The drive was finished by Schippers outrunning the Longhorn defense on his way to a 33-yard touchdown run. The Eagles added the two-point conversion to take a 22-14 lead heading into the break.
The Holcomb defense struggled to stop the run in the first half, allowing 226 yards on 22 carries. Rosales had the bulk of those yards with 105.
The Holcomb offense was more efficient than it was in week two. The Longhorns had nine first downs in the first half Friday, compared to six total the previous game.
“We basically had a new team entering this season, so we were limited on our playbook," Teeter said of the offensive progression. "We opened up the playbook and became more of a spread offense team that we haven't been able to be in the first couple of weeks.”
The Longhorns answered back on the opening drive of the second half, when Ortner’s 24-yard touchdown cut Colby’s lead to 22-20. Holcomb failed on the two-point conversion.
After stopping the Eagles on a fourth down on the Holcomb side of the field, Ortner found Amos for the second time of the night to give the Longhorns their second lead. After a successful two-point conversion, the Longhorns led 28-22.
Colby ended its point drought with a meticulous 17-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 15-yard Schippers-to-Rosales touchdown pass on a fourth down call. Schippers then ran in the two-point conversion, giving the Eagles a 30-28 lead with 11:11 left in the game.
The Longhorns took the lead right back, when Ortner found senior Jacob Henson on an 18-yard touchdown pass, the third on the night for Ortner. The two-point conversion was no good, but Holcomb still led 34-30 lead with 9:05 left in the game.
But Colby responded once again, re-taking the lead on a 13-yard Calvin Staap touchdown run. After another good two-point conversion, the Eagles took a 38-34 lead.
The Eagles defense finally came up big at the end of the game and ended Holcomb's chance for a comeback, stopping the Longhorns on a 4th-and-20 with 23 second left.
The Longhorns finished with 335 yards of offense.
"We saw some maturity from our quarterback tonight, which helps us become a better offensive team," Teeter said. "Offensively, we need to be that team. We did have some production as we scored 34 points, and that will be enough to win a lot of games, but defensively we did struggle.”
Teeter saw progress on the field Friday night.
"We have become a more experienced team, and we’ll take what we learned this first three weeks into district play," Teeter said. "We’re growing up, and we took steps towards becoming a better team tonight."