Holcomb spoils Ulysses' homecoming with 35-25 win
By KEVIN THOMPSON
ULYSSES — Friday in Ulysses was homecoming night, and the Holcomb Longhorns looked to spoil everything.
And that they did, as they defeated the Tigers 35-25, improving to 5-1 on the season (4-1 in league) and heading into district play with a lot of confidence.
In Great West Activities Conference rivalry, no game ever seems dull, and this one was no exception, with both teams gaining over 300 yards of offense each, including a number of big plays.
Ulysses struck first when newly crowned homecoming king Alec Meierhoff hit Tate Annis for a 39-yard pass play. Annis caught the ball over his shoulder, tip-toed away from the sideline and scored for a 6-0 lead.
Holcomb took the lead at the end of the opening quarter. Heath Tucker performed some magic of his own when he eluded two tackles near his own sideline, cut left, then outran the defense to the opposite corner for a 56-yard run.
Following a safety, Tyler LaSalle hit Tucker for a short 5-yard pass to put the Longhorns up 15-6 early in the second quarter.
But the Meierhoff-to-Annis connection worked again when a pass to the end zone was tipped by the defense and Annis came up with the ball at the 1-yard line. Meierhoff punched it in on the next play and the Tigers were down just 15-13 at halftime.
Holcomb took the opening drive of the second half 58 yards on just five plays, ending with LaSalle hitting a wide-open Tate Mason over the middle for 32 yards and a 21-13 lead.
Rudzick set up the Tigers' scoring with a 37-yard run up the middle, then took in in from the one on a fourth-down play, but the two-point conversion for the tie fell just short.
LaSalle led an 11-play Longhorn answering drive with a 2-yard plunge to give Holcomb a 28-18 lead
The Longhorns finished off Ulysses when they recovered a fumble at the Tiger 15 and scored on a LaSalle pass to Aaron Hernandez.
A pass interference call on fourth-and-goal gave the Longhorns a new set of downs instead of a turnover on downs, and the ensuing score was enough to put the game away.
LaSalle ran for 67 yards and threw for 143 more, accounting for 210 of Holcomb's 307 yards.
But it was a hard-fought GWAC-type of game, just as Holcomb coach Jerry Johnson figued it would be.
"When you get to this point in the season, both teams are banged up. I want to take a picture because we've got blood dropping from people's faces. We walk like 90-year-old men with replacement hip surgery," he said. "It all came down to guts. Our kids played hard."
Big plays helped the Longhorns, he said. That was caused in part to the physical play of Ulysses' line (they had 11 tackles for losses), which forced his team to have to make big plays once in a while, just to advance the ball.
"We're not a team that's just going to line up and mash you down the field," Johnson said. "We have to have a big, explosive play somewhere in that drive and that's how we scored."
Rudzick, just a freshman, had 143 yards on 29 carries, while Meierhoff threw for 169 yards to lead the Tigers.
Ulysses coach Jason Kenny was proud of his team playing through such a tough game, despite the loss.
"It was a good high school football game. Both teams played hard, and Holcomb's a good team," he said.
"I thought we battled hard and had some chances, but now we've got to get along and continue to improve," Kenny added.
Rudzick ran well, thanks in part to an offensive line that blocked well for a good portion of the game. The running game was part of the plan to try to wear down the Longhorn defense, but some missed chances affected that strategy, he said.
Kenny said that his team (3-3, 2-2) is now just like everyone else, 0-0 heading into district play.
"I told the kids this where they have to come together because most teams self-destruct before they ever have a chance to win a district championship," he said. "We can't be one of those teams. This is where leaders come together. Our kids are resilient. They'll bounce back."
Ulysses opens district play at home against Larned, while Holcomb travels to Southwestern Heights next Friday.
"The kids are playing hard," Johnson said. "But everybody's 0-0 now and we need to refocus. We have a mission. These kids are determined."
Holcomb 9 6 13 7 -- 35
Ulysses 6 7 6 6 -- 25
Uly — Meierhoff 39 pass to Annis (kick failed) 6:53
Hol — Tucker 56 run (Tucker kick) :57
Hol — (safety) :01
Hol — LaSalle 5 pass to Tucker (kick failed) 0:56
Uly — Meierhoff 1 run (Mendez kick) 6:45
Hol — LaSalle 32 pass to Mason (kick failed) 10:00
Uly — Rudzick 1 run (run failed) 5:53
Hol — LaSalle 2 run (Tucker kick) 1:57
Hol — LaSalle 15 pass to Hernandez (Tucker kick) 3:16
Uly — Rudzick 4 run (pass failed) 2:09
Total Yards 307 321
Rushes/Yds 43-164 42-152
Passing/Yds 10-143 8-169
Turnovers 2 2
First Downs 12 12
Punts 3 2
Penalties/Yds 3-30 8-57
RUSHING — Holcomb: LaSalle 28-67, Tucker 8-77; Ulysses: Rudzik 29-143.
PASSING — Holcomb: LaSalle 10-15-1-143; Ulysses: Meierhoff 8-15-1-169.
RECEIVING — Holcomb: Tucker 5-77, Mason 1-32; Ulysses: Annis 4-81, Rudzick 2-47.