Going at each other in a manner one might expect from such long time rivals, Kansas and Colcord hooked it up Friday night at Dee Neel Field.
And by game’s end the visiting Hornets had just enough of a rushing game to grind out lots of clock and enough defense to deny a furious fourth quarter Comet comeback, to hang on for a 20-18 road win.
After receiving the opening kick, the visitors began their opening drive on the 32. Aided by three Kansas offside penalties, the Hornets burned nearly half the quarter, moving the sticks five times on a dozen plays. But a mishandled snap and some timely Kansas defense brought the series to a halt on downs, at the 15-yard line.
The Comets stayed on the ground as well and picked up three first downs on 10 carries. But on a fourth and long, near midfield, Kansas got off a punt that backed the Hornets up to their own seven.
The quarter concluded with no score following the Hornets hand off to Darwin Davis on the first rep of the possession. The next two Canaan Sherrell to Caleb Backwater pass attempts were incomplete, forcing Colcord to punt.
The teams exchanged series, but another fine Tyler Lankston punt pinned the visitors on their own five-yard line.
Using five different ball carriers in their next six snaps, the Hornets picked up three more first downs and used almost half of the second stanza.
But thanks to another mishandled snap Colcord was unable to achieve the next line to gain. This time Sherrell’s punt backed Kansas up to the nine. And on a fourth and five to go on their own 14, the Comets executed a fake punt that saw Lankston break to the west sideline picking up enough yardage for a first and 10.
Using a pair of seven-yard runs by Heath Asher, followed by two Dallas Cheek carries of eight and nine yards respectively and a 15 yard Colcord penalty, Kansas had a first down on the 27.
And with :52 to play in the half QB Wade Lewis (11 of 18 for 102 yards) connected with Kelsey Wells, out of the backfield, for a 27 yard catch and run touchdown. The conversion run failed giving the Comets a 6-0 edge.
It appeared that following a seven yard sack of Sherrell, on the 47, that the Hornets were heading to the locker room down by a TD. But a 15-yard penalty against the Comets moved the ball across midfield to the 44.
Sherrell’s next pass attempt was incomplete giving the Hornets a second and long with two ticks on the clock. Sherrell (14 carries for 107 yards) took the snap and was forced to improvise on what seemed to be a broken play. The gifted Colcord signal caller broke to the outside and after picking up a block, broke back to the inside, where he outran the Comet pursuit for a 44 yard score. Chris Aguilar added the PAT kick to give his team the 7-6 lead at the break.
Kansas took the first possession of the second half beginning on
their 33 and moved the stakes three times on 11 snaps. But after crossing midfield, the drive dissolved on the heels of back-to-back five yard losses.
Lankston’s subsequent punt bounded into the end zone, giving the visitors the ball on the 20.
Colcord answered by running the ball 10 times and featured big gainers by Sherrell for 26 and Darwin Davis for 23. And with 1:15 to play in the third Aguilar carried the ball across the goal line from four yards out. The PAT was short and to the left, giving the Hornets a 13-6 lead.
But the Comet fortunes went further south when the Colcord line drive kick bounced off one of the Kansas up men and into the hand of the Hornets on the 30-yard line.
And with only 10 seconds more off of the clock, Sherrell found Rusty James for a 30-yard TD pass. This time Aguilar’s kick was good for a 20-6 Colcord margin.
The 3rd period came to a conclusion with another three plays and a punt by the Comet offense.
The Hornets appeared to have things firmly in control as Sherrell picked up a big first down on a 23 yard scamper to inside the Kansas ‘red zone’. But the Kansas defense denied their guests another score when they covered a Davis fumble.
With time running down in the fourth the two squads exchanged possessions, wherein a short punt gave the Comets the ball in enemy territory.
With a pair of Lewis to Justin Gifford completions the home team moved to the Colcord five. And with 4:02 left in the game, the Comet’s leading rusher Jonathan Williams scored the TD. The two-point conversion failed, but the Comets were still in it 20-12.
The Kansas defense rose to the occasion on the next Hornet series and force another fumble on the 32.
Using a Colcord penalty and a 13 yard reception by Blake Swim, the Comets crossed the 50 and moved to the visitor’s 33.
Lewis broke off an 11 yard run that had his team knocking on the door at the nine. And despite an illegal receiver penalty, Kansas put the ball across the goal when Lewis found Lankston in the corner of the end zone for six more and a chance to tie.
But with 1:04 to play, Lewis’s two-point pass fell incomplete.
This time the Colcord kick receivers handled the ball cleanly, allowing the Hornets to run out the clock and securing the close two point victory.
Addressing his team after the hard fought win Colcord coach Bud Simmons told his team, “You’ve got nothing to hang your heads about. We made mistakes but we played through them and we got the win. That’s the way these rivalries are. We need to learn from this because I guarantee it’ll be the same way at Colcord next season.”
The Hornets entertain the district leading Tahlequah-Sequoyah Indians on Friday, while Kansas travels to Adair intent on knocking the Warriors out of post season play.