Longhorns’ district title hopes fade in 56-23 loss
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Speed kills—on the streets and on the football field.
And it was speed that carried the Sutherland Sailors to a 56-23 win over the Chase County Longhorns there Friday night.
With three starters gone due to injury, sickness and eligibility issues, the Longhorns found themselves a step behind the Sailors most of the night.
The Longhorns knew they had to stop a two-pronged offensive attack that features quickness and speed in the backfield along with speed and accuracy in the aerial game.
When the Longhorns’ Michael May intercepted a Sutherland pass deep in the secondary on their first drive, it looked like the Longhorns had it figured out.
The Longhorns took the ball 60 yards down the field, getting three to five yards a run. They stuffed it across the goal line on a four-yard run by Paul Gaschler for an early 7-0 lead.
Even when the Longhorns fell behind 20-7 midway in the second quarter, they answered with a 68-yard, 11-play drive.
The Longhorns maintained their composure, converting two fourth downs on the drive, including a fourth-down touchdown pass from Alex Strand to Daniel Regier.
Trailing just five, 20-15, with just 58 seconds left in the half, the momentum belonged to the Longhorns.
But the triumph proved to be short-lived. Sutherland snatched the mojo right back, returning the ensuing kickoff 68 yards for a touchdown.
That could have well been the turning point in the game.
The Longhorns got the second half kickoff but went three-and-out. From there, the flood gates opened.
Sutherland scored on four of the next five possessions to build a 56-15 lead over the Longhorns with about five minutes left in the game.
The Longhorns got one more score with the jayvees when Kale Gockley hit Adam Moline for a seven-yard score in the closing minutes.
Assessing the loss
Head Coach Dan Lenners said the Longhorns failed to execute Friday night.
He said they were prepared for both the running and passing attack of Sutherland. “We just didn’t execute our assignments on defense,” he added.
Lenners credited Sutherland for their balance offensive attack. They ran for 222 yards and passed for another 190 yards.
Giving up big plays proved to be a big factor, Lenners said.
On the ground, Sutherland had runs of 30, 20, 10 and several for 15 yards.
In the air, the Longhorns gave up plays of 60, 40, 30 and 25 yards to the Sailors.
“You just can’t give up big plays like that,” Lenners said.
Still, the Longhorns gained 179 yards of their own on the ground. “That’s more than enough to win a game,” Lenners said.
He said they went away from running the clock with the ground game and instead went to the air.
Strand attempted 23 passes, completing 10 for 76 yards and a touchdown. With the Longhorns’ ground game, that’s enough passes for three games.
In retrospect, Lenners said that proved to be a mistake.
Time to bounce back
The Longhorns will have to regroup when they play host to Bridgeport in the homecoming game Friday night.
Lenners said they have to refocus on staying with blocks, and tackling. A team can’t win when they don’t block or tackle, he added.
After this week, just two regular season games remain—Bayard and Perkins County.
Lenners said every game from here on out is crucial to the Longhorns’ playoff hopes.
Sutherland all but captured the C2-10 district title with Friday’s win. They have also defeated Perkins County, putting them in the driver’s seat for the district championship and automatic playoff berth.
Friday’s homecoming game here begins at 7 p.m. at the Longhorn sports complex.
Stats at a glance
Tackles (solos-assists)—Alex Strand 7-1, Tyler Roenfeldt 6-2, Tanner Stromberger 4-2, Daniel Regier 3-3, Lucas Bauerle 2-1, Nathan Hinojosa 1-1, Daniel Hogsett 0-2, Ethan Haarberg 0-2, Michael 1-0, Jakob Burke 1-0, Trevor Fuehrer 1-0, Hunter Spady 1-0, Keithan Cochran 1-0, Justin German 0-1.
Rushing (attempts-yards)—Michael May 19-91, Paul Gaschler 13-62, Taylor Gellerman 2-23, Jakob Burke 2-5, Ethan Haarberg 1-5, Daniel Regier 1-2, Kale Gockley 2- -1, Cody Cravey 1- -1, Alex Strand 9- -8.
Receiving (completions-yards-TD-2 pt. conv.)—Daniel Regier 5-49-1-0, Jeff Banks 3-17-0-0, Michael May 2-17-0-0, Adam Moline 1-7-1-0, Keithan Cochran 1-3-0-1, Paul Gaschler 1- -7-0-0.
Passing (attempts-completions-yards-interceptions-TD-2 pt. conv.)—Alex Strand 23-10-76-0-1-0, Kale Gockley 2-2-10-0-1-0.
CCS: Paul Gaschler 4 yd. TD run, kick by Grant Lenners good.
Sutherland: 31 yd. pass from Alex Sandberg to Randon McKain, kick by Zack Jenner good.
Sutherland: McKain 17 yd. run, kick by Jenner good.
Sutherland: 41 yd. pass from Sandberg to Landon Holmes, kick by Jenner failed.
CCS: 6 yd. pass from Alex Strand to Daniel Regier, 2-pt. conversion by Michael May good.
Sutherland: 71 yd. kick return by Holmes, 2-pt. conversion run by Jake Fleecs.
Sutherland: 19 yd. run by McKain, 2-pt. pass to Holmes good.
Sutherland: 12 yd. run by McKain, kick by Jenner good.
Sutherland: 14 yd. run by McKain, kick by Jenner failed.
Sutherland: 1 yd. run by Greg McKain, kick by Jenner good.
CCS: 7 yd. pass from Kale Gockley to Adam Moline for TD, 2-pt. conversion pass from Gockley to Keithan Cochran good.
CCS 7 8 0 8—23
Sutherland 7 21 15 13—56