Horns hook Hershey, playoff hopes alive

 

Vicki Stull

Jon Withrow rushes during Friday's 24-21 win at Hershey. He scored the winning touchdown with seven seconds left to lift the Longhorns to the win.

The Kimball High Longhorns picked up their biggest win of the season Friday night at Hershey coming from behind to win 24-21 on an 8 yard sweep-left by senior running back Jonathon Withrow with 7 seconds left in the game! With the win, Kimball's state playoff hopes are still alive!

Fans were treated to one of the most exciting and climactic high school football games they might ever have the prive1ege of watching and the win by Kimball on the opponents home field would be considered an upset by many as Hershey was state ranked earlier in the season and had a tremendous size advantage over the visiting Horns.

On a clear and perfect football night on a beautiful paintedup Hershey field, the Horns struck early. Jon Withrow fielded the opening kickoff at his own 5 yard line and returned it 75 yards to the Hershey 20. On the first snap from center, Withrow broke for 12 yards and a first and goal. Fullback AJ Spicer took the second snap of the game the remaining 8 yards going in standing up and Enrique Cajero kicked his first PAT on a night where he was perfect on every attempt to put Kimball on top 7-0 with only :45 seconds ran off the clock!

As good as the Kimball offense performed all night, the Kimball defense may have been even better as they battled that huge line of the Panthers and turned the hosts away time after time with big key plays. Hershey came right back following Kimball's TO with a drive to the Kimball 11 but Jaden Withrow knocked down a Hershey pass, and Ben Sauter sacked quarterback Logan Weir for a 10 yard loss and Kimball held and took over at their own 5 yard line. The score board showed Kimball ahead 7-0 at the quarter break and early in the second period the Horns turned the Panthers away one more time at the 13 yard line. After their second punt of the evening, Hershey mounted a 57 yard drive that ended with the Panthers scoring on a 37 yard pass from Weir to Gaige Marshall and Weir knotted the score at 7-7 with his PAT kick at 5:15 left in the second period.


Weir picked off a Colton Stull pass but on a 4th and 1, Trent Rutledge and Ethan Land teamed up to throw Hershey for a 1 yard loss. Starting at their own 43, the Horns moved down field to a first and goal at the Hershey 5, but had to settle for a 21 yard field goal off the talented toe of Cajero with :26 seconds left in the half, taking a 10-7 margin into the half time locker room. Hershey tried a field goal with :02 seconds left in the half that was wide left.

The Horns kicked off to start third quarter play and the Panthers drove 70 yards in 12 plays taking the lead on another Weir to Marshall pass that covered the final 13 yards. Weir's kick was good and Hershey took the lead at 14-10 with 6:33 to play third period. The Horns came right back with a 65 yard drive of their own with the big play a 21 yard pass completion from Stull to Michael Ferguson with Fergie diving at the end zone pylon in what looked like a touchdown only to have the official mark it down at the 1 yard line. Stull took it in the final yard on the next snap and Cajero kicked it true to put Kimball in front again 17-14 with 3:23 left in the third period, and that was the score going into the fourth period of play.

Kimball was driving once again early in the fourth quarter when Hershey came up with their second interception at their own 33 yard line and 9 plays later, and after converting a 4th and 6 situation on a 30 yard pass play, the home town crew went ahead on a 3 yard touchdown run by Marshall and Weir's kick gave Hershey a 21-17 lead with 6:53 remaining in the contest.

With things beginning to look a bit urgent, Jon Withrow and team mates went to work. Withrow returned the ensuing kickoff to the Kimball 25 and the Horns began their drive to victory. Withrow, younger brother Jaden, and AJ Spicer all had carries as the Horns moved down field with a first down at the Hershey 35. This is where the drive faltered with Kimball losing yards twice in a row and Stull throwing incomplete. Facing a 4th and 16, Stull connected with Jon Withrow who was hit immediately by a would-be tackler, but like he has done so often this year, Jon broke the tackle, then carried other would-be tacklers a yard past what he needed for the first down and the Horns could breathe new life.

Once again a pass from Stull to Jaden Withrow for an 8 yard gain on 3rd down advanced the ball for a first down at the Hershey 13, but time was running out with the clock showing :27 seconds. Jon Withrow ran for 5 yards and the clock ran down to :19 seconds. Stull threw incomplete and the clock ran down to :14 seconds. Facing a third and 5 situation, Jon Withrow took the ball on a sweep left and out ran everyone to the far end zone to score on an 8 yard run crossing the goalline with :07 seconds left in the game. Of course Cajero kicked the PAT. He was perfect all night! Kimball took the lead at 24-21. Hershey returned the kick and ran 1 final play but the Kimball defense gave them only 10 yards and the game was over. Kimball's state playoff hopes were still alive!

In the post game huddle, coach Nick Kuxhausen said "Great game guys, but remember we took just one step tonight and we need to take one more step next Friday. Be ready to go to work Monday at practice and get ready for Bridgeport". Coach Luke Dea added "Tonight was a game of players making plays and we made one more play than they did." Coach Gene Mohr cited the Kimball players with making adjustments and the older players for guiding the younger players. A great football game and a huge win for Kimball.

While it was a battle between two solid football teams, it almost seemed like an individual battle between two outstanding running backs as Jon Withrow was at his best with 30 carries for 193 yards and Hershey's Gaige Marshall carried 28 times for 165 yards. Marshall scored all 3 touchdowns for his team while Withrow got just one, the winning one!

Stat comparisons are close with Kimball running 53 plays for 288'yards of offense and Hershey 59 plays for 382 yards. Hershey had 174 yards through the air hitting on 8 of 14 passes including 2 TDs while Kimball was 5 of 11 for 55 yards but all of those completions were so vital to the win. Hershey had 6 penalties for 60 yards and Kimball 3 for 35. Kimball punted 2 times and Hershey 1. Hershey had 20 first downs and Kimball 17.

In the receiving department, Jaden Withrow had 2 catches for 11 yards, Jon Withrow 1 for 17, Michael Ferguson 1 for 21, and AJ Spicer 1 for 6.

The defense was tough all night long against the biggest line they have faced, and will face, all season. They made holes for the Kimball backs to run through and the defense made plays to stop drives. Michael Ferguson was on top of the tackle chart with 16 including 4 solo stops. Jon Withrow played both sides of the ball and ended up with 12 tackles including 6 solo stops. Ethan Land had 9 with 4 solos, Jaden Withrow 9 with 3 solos, Ben Sauter 8 with 2 solos and the big sack for loss. Damien Rutledge, Colton Stull, AJ Spicer, Justin Mohr, Angel Flores, Tyler Magninie, Trent Rutledge, and Enrique Cajero all had multiple tackles and Trent Rutledge, Stull and Spicer were charted with tackles for loss.

Kimball won by 3 points and Cajero contributed 6 points on his 3 for 3 PAT kicking and his field goal right before half time Maybe he deserves a portion of that game ball. His kicking has been so good all season and give Ethan Land some credit on the holds as on one kick at Hershey he fielded a low almost rolling snap and deftly set the ball for Cajero's already swinging leg.

The Horns could travel home a happy group but no time to rest as this Friday they close out the regular season hosting a tough Bridgeport opponent who demolished Bayard last Friday 50-0! They have a big back named Pankowski but the Horns show no fear against big players as witnessed by their play at Hershey. Kimball's playoff hopes are resting on the bubble but for certain they need a win over Bridgeport to have any chance.

Friday night will be the final home game for 9 seniors who have contributed so much as players and leaders. Special recognition will be shown to these players and their parents including Michael Ferguson, Colton Stull, Jon Withrow, AJ Spicer, Ben Sauter, Tyler Harroun, Justin Mohr, Enrique Cajero, and Damien Rutledge. The Interact Club will be holding a soup supper to feed you fans with serving from 5 to 7 p.m.

Score by quarter

Kimball 7 3 7 7 - 24

Hershey 0 7 7 7 - 21

Vicki Stull

The victorious Longhorns huddle on the field after last Friday's 24-21 victory at Hershey.

 

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