By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
The Chase County Longhorns suffered their first loss of the season Friday, falling in a road game to Chadron 20-27.
But what may become a bigger factor than the loss is the injuries suffered in the hard-hitting game.
Those injuries ranged from a dislocated finger, separated shoulder, turf toe and a possible broken hand.
Coach Dan Lenners said those are just things the team will have to deal with going forward.
Early this week, he was still uncertain as to whether he would lose some players this week as a result.
Lenners said the game provided a good measuring stick for his team after two easy wins to open the season.
One area targeted for improvement will be their pass defense, Lenners said.
The Longhorns gave up more than 200 yards in passing, along with three touchdowns.
Penalties and turnovers throughout the game hurt the Longhorns as well.
Lenners said the Longhorns put Chadron in several 3rd & 9 situations but couldn’t make the stop.
Chadron put the ball on the ground six times, Lenners said, but the Longhorns could only come up with one.
What impressed Lenners the most about his team came back in the final minutes of the game when they put up two touchdowns and almost recovered an on-side kick after the first score.
“Those kids really showed some character by coming back,” he said.
The Longhorns’ character will be tested again Friday when the hit the road again to play Cozad.
Cozad is also 2-1 with wins over Mitchell, 77-26, and Broken Bow, 49-7. Their only loss came to a tough Adams Central team in their first game, 17-0.
7-7 at halftime
After a three-and-out on defense to open the game, the Longhorns tried to go deep on the opening play, only to have Kale Gockley’s pass picked off.
Chadron moved inside Longhorn territory but the defense held as Chadron failed to convert a fourth down at the Longhorn 40.
After a pair of three-and-outs by the Longhorns, Chadron got on the board first.
The Cardinals went to the air, completing five of six attempts, including a 28-yarder and a 10-yarder for the score as the quarter ended.
The Longhorns answered, driving 66 yards, all of them on the ground, with Dan Sullivan going in from 11 yards out for the score.
Earlier in the drive, Sullivan converted and 3rd & 10 with 11 yards on a Statute of Liberty play.
The Longhorns held Chadron to a three-and-out on the next possession but faked a punt, going for 27 yards to the Longhorn 31.
Three plays later, Lineman Brian Bell stripped the ball from the Chadron quarterback while he was attempting a pass. Bell fell on the loose ball to kill the drive.
The Longhorns moved to the Chadron 36 before loosing the ball on a bad exchange between Gockley and fullback Justin German to end the first half.
The Longhorns got the ball to open the second half and moved to the Chadron 45 but turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert a 4th & 2.
Kelton Fisher killed Chadron’s drive with an interception at the Longhorn 24.
It was short-lived as the Longhorns went three-and-out, setting up Chadron’s next score.
Mixing up the run and the pass, Chadron moved to the Longhorn 14. From there, they completed another touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone to take a 14-7 lead.
The Longhorns threatened to tie the game, moving from their own 20 to the Chadron 26 on back-to-back runs by Sullivan for 21 yards and Trey Milner for 33.
Chadron snatched the scoring opportunity, stepping in front of a Gockley pass at the goal line.
Three plays later, Chadron completed a crossing route 15 yards deep into the Longhorn defense.
The Longhorns were unable to get a hand on the receiver, who went 84 yards for the score with seven minutes left to lead 21-7.
Longhorns pull within seven
With 1:54 left, the Longhorns answered, going 75 yards in 17 plays to pull within seven, 21-14 after David Almanza’s extra point kick.
The score came on a five-yard pass from Gockley to Kevin German.
Almanza put down a perfect squib kick, giving the Longhorns a decent shot at the ball. However, Chadron came up with it.
Three plays later, Chadron put the nail on the coffin, breaking loose for a 48-yard touchdown run. The PAT failed, leaving the score at 27-14 with 1:26 left.
Showing their character, the Longhorns drove 80 yards on a combination of passes to Michael May and runs by Gockley.
On what appeared to be the final play of the game, Gockley threw into the endzone and the pass fell incomplete. However, Chadron was called for pass interference, giving the Longhorns one more untimed play.
Gockley found May in the endzone, making the final score 27-20.
Gockley finished the night with 117 yards, completing nine passes in 23 attempts for 2 touchdowns and two interceptions. Gockley also led the defense with six stops.
May led the receivers with 92 of those 117 yards.
Sullivan led the ground game with 87 yards.
Friday’s game at Cozad begins at 6 p.m. MT.
Stats at a glance
Tackles (solos-assists)—Kale Gockley 5-2, Brian Bell 2-4, Michael May 1-4, Jeffrey Dickey 1-4, Justin German 0-5, Trey Milner 3-1, Hunter Spady 1-3, Kelton Fisher 2-1, Callin Ledall 1-2, Justus Wallin 1-2, David Almanza 1-0, Dan Sullivan 0-1, Freddie Kasselman 0-1.
Rushing (attempts-yards-TD)—Dan Sullivan 18-87-1, Trey Milner 13-54-0, Kale Gockley 6-33-0, Justin German 8-32-0, Jeffrey Dickey 1-3-0, Michael May 2- -8-0. TEAM: 48-201-1.
Passing (attempts-completions/yards-TD-INT)—Kale Gockley 23-9-117-2-2.
Receiving (completions-yards-TDs)—Michael May 7-92-1, Dan Sullivan 1-20-0, Kevin German 1-5-1. TEAM: 9-117-2.
Chadron: 10 yd. TD pass from T.D. Stein to Chance Bila, kick by Matt Lordino is good.
CCS: 11 yd. TD run by Dan Sullivan, kick by David Almanza good.
Chadron: 14 yd. TD pass from Stein to Lordino, kick by Lordino is good.
Chadron: 83 yd. TD pass from Stei to Lordino, kick by Lordino is good.
CCS: 5 yd. pass from Kale Gockley to Kevin German for TD, kick by Almanza good.
Chadron: 47 yd. TD run by Calen Johnson, kick no good.
CCS: 11 yd. pass from Gockley to Michael May, no kick.
CCS 0 7 0 13—20
Chadron 7 0 7 13—27