Scott Wheeler pulls down a touchdown pass with 1:19 left that brought the Longhorns within six points of the Cozad Haymakers. (Photos courtesy of Kelly Ninas, Cozad Tri-City Trib)
Coach Dan Lenners praised the Longhorns’ defensive play against Cozad Friday. The defense gave up just two touchdowns but a pick-six interception spelled the difference in the contest.
Kadin Vrbas led the Longhorn rushing attack with 138 yards including a 75-yard touchdown run.
Longhorns fall to Cozad in season opener
Turnovers proved costly in the Longhorns’ 19-13 loss to the Cozad Haymakers in the season opener there Friday.
In the first quarter, the Longhorns killed a Cozad possession with an interception at the Cozad 25.
The Longhorns moved inside the Cozad 15 before giving the ball back on a fumble.
After Cozad scored the first touchdown of the game with 1:52 left in the half, the Longhorns suffered a big blow to momentum right before half.
Trying to get on the board before the break, the Longhorns went to the air.
But with 9.9 seconds left in the second quarter, Cozad picked off a Longhorn pass for a pick-six and a 13-0 lead at half.
Coach Dan Lenners said that interception good for a touchdown really changed the momentum going into halftime.
He said the Longhorns played a good half of defense and it looked like they would only trail by a touchdown at the break. Instead, they went in down 13-0.
Early in the second half, the Longhorns sought to change the momentum with a fourth-down conversion, only to see it fall short.
Cozad took over on the Imperial 45 and went to the air for a big gain to Imperial 7.
With 6:19 left in the third, Cozad tacked on another touchdown to lead 19-0 after a second failed point-after attempt.
It took the Longhorns just 21 seconds to answer when Kadin Vrbas broke through the left side of the Cozad defense for a 75-yard touchdown run.
A successful kick brought to score to 19-7.
After trading possessions through the rest of the third and most of the fourth, the Longhorn defense came up with a stop.
Taking over with the clock inside three minutes, the Longhorns began airing it out.
Faced with a 3-and-18 at the Cozad 40, Vrbas found tight end Braden Space for 13 yards on a halfback pass. Weiss converted the fourth down on a scramble to keep the drive alive.
He then found Scott Wheeler in the end zone with 1:19 left to bring the Longhorns within six, 19-13, after a failed point-after kick.
The Longhorns tried an onside kick but Cozad recovered the ball. With no time-outs left for the Longhorns, Cozad was able to run out the clock to hand the Longhorns their first loss.
Vrbas led the team on the ground, picking up 138 yards on 19 carries. The Longhorns finished with 209 yards on the ground and another 56 in the air.
Lenners said the Longhorns had trouble sustaining drives throughout the night, either because of turnovers, missed assignments or penalties.
One of the things Lenners said his team will work on in practice this week will be staying on blocks.
Lenners said his team executed their blocking assignments but didn’t stay on their blocks long enough.
He said they will also concentrate on playing every down.
He said they would play good for two to three downs and then take a play off. He said they need to be focused on every individual play, regardless of whether they are on offense or defense.
Despite the loss, Lenners said his team showed the potential to be a good team.
Lenners said they had a good practice Monday as they get ready to host Broken Bow Friday.
Broken Bow lost to Ord 8-6 in their opener Friday.
He said they have a good quarterback who likes to drop back and pass.
Game time Friday is set for 6:30 p.m.