By Tom Southard

Longhorns scare Blue Hill, Lose 21-6 in playoffs


Vicki Stull/For the Observer

#21 Jon Withrow dodges a tackle with the help of #58 Dakota Jefferson

Kimball High's 2013 football season came to a close in the first round of the Class C-2 State playoffs at Blue Hill this past Thursday, but not before they gave heavily favored Blue Hill a scare. The home field Blue Hill Bobcats won out 21-6, but not before Kimball showed their hosts that Western Nebraska can play some tough football as well.

At kickoff the wind was ferocious, but the sun was shining, and an enthusiastic Kimball following was ready to support their Horns. Blue Hill came into the contest with a 7-1 record with a lone loss to the #1 ranked Doniphan/Trumbull team. Blue Hill was the #3 state ranked C-2 Team, while Kimball entered the fray with a 4-4 win-loss record.

Blue Hill kicked off to start the game with the Horns starting their first possession at their own 33 yard line. On the second snap of the ball game, Jonathon Withrow brought the fans to their feet as he broke for a 55 yard run, and a first down, at the Blue Hill 14. A Kimball fumble on the next snap however was recovered by the Bobcats and the early scoring threat didn't happen. Blue Hill drove downfield to a first down at the Kimball 21, but the Big Red defense stiffened and held on a fourth down situation, taking over at their own 16 yard line. The first quarter ended scoreless.

The second quarter was more of the same with both clubs mounting drives that ended with punts, and key penalties that brought about punting situations. The score clock showed 0-0 at half time, and the Horns had certainly held their own and could have been. on top, take a way a few miscues. Withrow had already piled up 119 yards of individual rushing by the half time break.

The third quarter opened with Jake Reader throwing a Blue Hill runner for a 2 yard loss, and the Bobcats fumbled, but recovered on the next play, but then Keithen Drury broke for a 46 yard run on a third down play to get the Cats out of trouble and into Kimball territory. James Fuller got loose for a 28 yard scamper and a first down at the Kimball 16, and quarterback Jason Poe had back-to-back 8 yard carries and a touchdown with 8:51 left in the third quarter to open the scoring on the night. Jayden Hamel kicked the PAT and Blue Hill went on top 7-0. That would be the score at the end of three periods of play and Kimball was still right in the thick of things.

Blue Hill struck again midway through the fourth quarter following an interception of a Colton Stull aerial giving them possession at the Kimball 39 yard line. Blue Hill went to the air with Poe connecting with Luke Faimon for a 27 yard TD with 8:20 left in the game, and Mitchell Ruybalid ran in the 2 point conversion, picking up a fumble and finding the end zone to go up 15-0.

With time running out, the Horns had to go to the air trying to get some quick scoring, but Drury picked off another Kimball pass to set up yet another Blue Hill score with Poe throwing to Ruybalid for an 18 yard TD to complete a 7 play, 60 yard drive, giving them a 21-0 lead when the PAT kick failed, with 3:09 remaining.

Kimball started at their own 44 on the ensuing kickoff and coach Nick Kuxhausen went to his trick bag on the first play from scrimmage calling for a flea-flicker, or hook and ladder, pass play from Stull to Michael Ferguson who lateral led to tackle Jake Reader, who carried for a 26 yard gain, and a first down at the Blue Hill 30 yard line. Stull hit on passes to Withrow and Angel Flores, had a carry of 10 yards calling his own number, and with a first down at the Blue Hill 5, got 3 yards and then a 2 yard quarterback keeper for Kimball's lone touchdown with just 33 seconds left. The PAT failed and the final score went into the books at 21-6 with the winners advancing and Kimball closing the book on the 2013 season.

It was a great team effort for the Kimball club and coach Kuxhausen and staff were happy and proud of the effort. Kimball picked up 17 first downs and had 4 penalties for 50 yards. The winners had 14 first downs and 2 penalties for 15 yards. Blue Hill had 266 yards rushing on 45 carries and were 6 of 15 passing for 120 yards with no interceptions and a total of 386 yards. Kimball rushed 42 times for 236 net yards and were 4 of 11 passing for 58 yards with 3 interceptions and a total of 294 yards.

Individual stats for Kimball show Withrow with 27 carries and 172 yards, as reported to MAXPreps, another outstanding night for the hardy junior running back who will write his name into the school record books when we total up the season stats. He also had 2 catches for 25 yards and had a good game on defense as well.

Looking at the defense, senior Jake Reader was allover the field making plays ending up with 18 tackles including 11 solo stops. Withrow had 5 solo tackles and 3 pass deflections. Damien Rutledge was in on 6 tackles. Senior Dakota Jefferson closed out his career with 7 tackles including 4 solo stops. Colton Stull charted 11 tackles with 3 solos, Jayden Withrow 5 with 2 solos, Michael Ferguson 4 with 2 solos. Enrique Cajero did a good job handling the kicking chores for the Horns.

Commenting on the game, Kimball coach Nick Kuxhausen said, "I was really happy with the kids and our effort. We competed well. It was 0-0 at half time and we had a chance to be on top. We just never got the one big play to get ahead, but we did move the ball consistently. Our turnovers hurt us, but I thought our defense played awesome."

Kimball ended up 4-5 on the year, but next year qualifying for the state playoffs will be twice as hard as the field is dropping from 32 teams to just 16 teams. Kuxhausen said "It will be a lot tougher to qualify next year. Winning your district will be huge, but at this time we don't know our schedule or who will be in our district, and won't know until late February or early March". Kuxhausen said they have a great group of young men coming back but will miss the two seniors, Jake Reader and Dakota Jefferson. "I don't know if we can ever replace Jake. He is one of a kind. Dakota got only one year of football but he really came on and had a great year. He played big in our line for no bigger than he really is".

In the next week or two we will report the season stats and inform you readers who moved up into the school record books in the various categories. Until then, Congrats to the Longhorns on a good season, and a solid performance at the state playoff game.


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