Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Tom Southard

Horns State Playoff Bound


Vicki Stull/For the Observer

Angel Flores returns the ball on a kickoff for the Longhorns in their win over Bayard.

A dramatic 28-27 win over Bayard in the regular season final contest Friday night at Keith Staehr Field evened the Kimball High Longhorns season out at 4 wins and 4 losses and sends the Horns back to the State Playoffs for the third consecutive year.

Things looked bleak for the hosting Longhorns early as the Tigers struck first on this beautiful Fall football night. After Kimball took the opening kickoff downfield picking up 3 first downs on the way, the drive faltered with the Horns called for a holding penalty. David Schuler picked off a Kimball pass and the Tigers proceeded to mount their own drive of 71 yards that ended with Zac Rice connecting with Robert Miller on a 15 yard touchdown pass with 4:40 left in the first quarter of play. CJ Trevino kicked the PAT to put Bayard on top 7-0.

Following a Kimball punt, Bayard went three and out forcing them to return the favor with a punt that was fumbled and recovered by the Tigers at the Kimball 46 yard line. It took the Tigers 9 plays to cover the distance to pay dirt with Miller going in from 2 yards out with the clock showing 7:54 left in the second period when Jake Reader blocked the PAT kick to leave Bayard leading 13-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jonathon Withrow returned it 25 yards to the mid-field stripe and 12 plays later Kimball got on the score board with Colton Stull going the final yard behind a good block by Ben Sauter and company and Enrique Cajero kicked the first of 4 PATs to close to 13-7. Key plays on the 50 yard drive saw Stull complete 3 passes and Withrow breaking for some big runs, including an 11 yarder on a great cut back move for a first down at the Bayard 3.

The final minute before the half time break was fast and furious as Bayard carne right back to score on a 35 yard sweep left run by Miller with :56 seconds remaining before the intermission break and Rice ran in the PAT for the 2 point conversion to put Bayard up 21-7. On the second snap of the football following Bayard's TD, Stull found Withrow behind the Bayard defender down the west side line and the speedy junior finished out the 50 yard pass completion by streaking to the end zone with :41 seconds before half time. Cajero's kick made it 21-14, and gave Kimball a huge spirit lift and momentum as they headed to the half time locker room, trailing 21-14.

No scoring in the third period, but the quarter ended with Jake Reader making another of his huge game-changing plays after he jumped on a fumbled attempted punt following a bad snap to give Kimball the football at the Bayard 10 yard line. Withrow carried 3 straight times and on the second snap of the fourth period he went in from 2 yards out and Cajero's kick tied the game at 21-21 with 11:20 left in the contest.

Kimball's defense got the job done in holding on a fourth and 2 at their own 29 yard line the final quarter and Kimball got their offense rolling as Withrow fired a half back pass to Michael Ferguson that covered 41 yards. Withrow then carried 5 straight times and took a pitch right for the final 10 yards jumping in at the goal line for the score with 5:00 left in the game and the Horns on top 28-21.

Hold your breath,and hold every thing, as the Tigers were not giving in yet. Following a Kimball punt, Bayard took over at their own 45 and three plays later scored on a 35 yard pass play from Rice to Bryce Hargens. With the clock showing 2:11, Bayard lined up to kick the PAT, and a chance to tie the contest, but the kick sailed wide left, missing by a narrow margin, and Kimball fans could exhale with a loud WHEW!

Withrow returned the kickoff to the Kimball 35 and the Horns needed to run the clock and hang on for the win. Withrow ran twice and then had to leave the game for one play after his helmet had come off. Coach Kuxhausen had a play in mind, but had to re-think after the offcial informed him that Withrow would have to sit out a play. Another huge play by the Horns as Colton Stull carried it himself on a rollout to the right for 15 yards and the first down they needed to enable them to run out the clock. Stull took a knee on the final two snaps of the game and the celebration began for the Kimball players and fans with the clock showing 28-27.

It was small town high school football at its finest between two evenly matched teams. Unknown at the time, but known a short time later, both teams ended up earning state playoff berths which took some of the sting out of the loss for coach Randy McKibbon and his team.

It was a game of many whistles with Kimball penalized for 95 yards and Bayard for 79. The Tigers rushed for 80 yards on 36 attempts and had 193 yards passing on 15 of 27 attempts with 2 touchdowns. Zac Rice was 14 of 24 for 158 yards and the 2 TDs. Robert Miller ended with 16 carries for 91 yards and 2 TDs.

Kimball had 133 yards on the ground on 39 carries and 129 yards passing on 9 of 18 completions. Jonathon Withrow had 119 yards rushing on 29 carries for 2 touchdowns. Withrow also was 1 for 1 passing for 40 yards, and had 3 receptions for 63 yards including a 50 yard touchdown. Stull was 8 of 17 passing for 89 yards and 1 TD and 1 interception. Michael Ferguson had 5 catches for 66 yards.

Leading the defensive stats once again was senior Jake Reader with 11 tackles including 6 solo stops, 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and 1 blocked kick. He entertained the home fans royally in his final home field appearance. Jonathon Withrow had 10 tackles with 5 solo stops, Michael Ferguson 9, Ben Sauter 7, Colton Stull 6, Angel Flores 5, Dakota Jefferson and Damien Rutledge 4 each. Trent Rutledge had a sack.

Coach Nick Kuxhausen commenting on the win said "I was really happy with the way the kids competed and fought back. It was a great win for us against a good Bayard footballteam." As to key plays or key players in the game, Kuxhausen said "Two plays that really come to mind are Jonathon's catch just before the half that gave us a score and new spark and momentum.

Jonathon had a big night again and a lot of big plays. Our play when we got to them on the punt and took over down around the 10 yard line was another key play. Our line had another good night and we moved Jake back to the defensive line and he had some real key plays as the stats indicate".

Vicki Stull/For the Observer

Kimball's only two seniors, #66 Jake Reader and #58 Dakota Jefferson provide excellent blocking for quarterback #12 Colton Stull.

On the big run by Stull in the closing seconds, coach Kuxhausen said "Give credit to Colton on that one. After we had a play called, and then the officials told me that Jonathon had to sit out, we had to come up with another play and Colton suggested his carry as he thought it would work and it certainly did".

It's return to Blue Hill for the Longhorns as they are making a return trip east to face the same team they faced a year ago. Last year Kimball fell to Blue Hill 42-7 in a first round playoff contest. Kuxhausen said Blue Hill is the biggest team the Horns will face this year, plus they are fast and have a real good running back. Blue Hill is 7-1 on the season with an only loss to Doniphan/Trumbull, the #1 ranked C-2 in the state. Blue Hill is a #5 seed and Kimball is seeded #12 with their 4-4 record. Game time today (Thursday) is set for 3 p.m. Kimball time, or 4 p.m. Central time.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018