In the midst of a sustained run of success, the Holcomb Longhorns have done something they have not done in five years under head coach Kent Teeter, lose three straight games. With the 27-7 district loss to the Nickerson Panthers on Friday night, the Longhorns (1-3, 0-1) lost their third game in a row this season, not only the first three-game losing streak under Teeter, but it will be Teeter’s first season with at least three loses in a season.

“We started off well as we have a good opening drive, but we struggled after the first quarter,” Teeter said Friday night. “We had a lot of penalties and turnovers, and it just seemed to snowball on us as the game kept going. We had no consistency.”

The Longhorns’ offense looked promising early, easily driving down the field on a 12-play, 72-yard drive that saw Holcomb score the opening points of the game on a 1-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Peyton Ortner.

After stopping the Panthers on their first possession of the game, Holcomb’s second drive showed promise, but ultimately stalled at the Nickerson 28 after the Longhorns were unable to convert on a fourth and 6.

On the ensuing drive, the Nickerson offense was stopped on three straight plays from the Holcomb 1-yard line, and it looked as though the Longhorns had stopped the Panthers on the 4th and goal play. After the officials met to discuss the play, however, the original call was overturned in favor of Nickerson, which officially gave senior quarterback Tanner Scharg a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers on the board. Senior linebacker River Amos did enough to get a finger on the extra point, derailing it enough for it to sail wide, allowing Holcomb to hang onto a 7-6 lead.

“(The officials) didn't know what was going on,” Teeter said of the controversial call. “I had called a time out to get an explanation and I did not get a clear answer.

“I thought it was already decided, and I had called an offensive play. Not all of the referees were in accordance as the near referee had one call and the far judge had a different call.”

Still, Holcomb held that 7-6 lead into the break.

On the third play of the second half, though, Nickerson’s Scharg scored his second running touchdown of the night after he broke free for a 70-yard run. Scharg also converted on the two-point conversion which gave the Panthers a 14-7 lead to start the second half.

Three plays later, Holcomb’s Ortner scrambled right to look for an open receiver. Instead, Ortner found Nickerson senior defensive back Noah Salazar, giving the Panthers the ball back on the Holcomb 46-yard line.

On the very next play after the interception, Scharg made the Longhorns pay for the turnover as he scorched Holcomb on a 54-yard touchdown run, his third of the game. On the 14 points scored by the Panthers in the third quarter, Scharg scored two touchdowns on two runs of 124 yards combined.

The Panthers added one more touchdown with 2:30 left in the game to seal the game. Scharg found junior running back Jarron Kaufmann for a 20-yard touchdown pass.

“I posed a question to our guys, ‘Are we gonna give up? Are we the team who are going to beat this or make excuses?” Teeter said of the loss. “We are not out of the playoffs, but not where we want to be. We need to get better to win, and we need to use this time off to prepare and get ready for the next week.”