The undefeated Wamego Red Raiders rode into Abilene with one objective and that was to spoil the Cowboys’ homecoming activities.
Dodging rain storms and a bunch of determined Cowboys to upset their plans, the Red Raiders had enough left in their tank to pull out a 49-35 victory Friday.
“It’s tough to take, but it’s a learning experience,” Cowboy coach Jeff Geist said after the game. “Hopefully we will continue to get better.”
Statistically the Cowboys gained more yardage both in the passing game 347-258 and rushing 115-114 but the turnover margin and the final score went to the Red Raiders.
The Cowboys won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Wamego took Alex Espinoza’s 32-yard kickoff and seven plays later turned the ball over to the Cowboys when quarterback Kyler Alderson was sacked for a 13 yard loss at the Cowboy 19 yard line.
Cowboy quarterback Harley Hazlett and running back Tanner Hoekman got the Cowboys to the 41 yard line where Hazlett hit Blake Anguiano for a six-yard pass to bring up third-and-three.
Hazlett ran to his right and found a streaking Killian Millner down the right side of the field for a 54-yard touchdown pass at the 6:35 mark in the first quarter. Keil Kelly tacked on the point after kick and the Cowboys led 7-0.
It took the left-handed throwing Alderson three plays to answer the Cowboy score with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Trenton York. Alderson threw to John Ten Eyck for the two-point conversion and the Red Raiders led 8-7 at the end of the first quarter.
It took Alderson three plays into the second quarter to add to Wamego’s lead. He found his running back Kameron Quinn open down the middle for a 21-yard touchdown with less than a minute into the quarter. Alderson kicked the extra point and the Red Raiders led 15-7.
Wamego added to its lead with 6:20 left in the second period on another Alderson to York 32-yard touchdown strike. Alderson kicked the extra point to give the Red Raiders a 22-7 lead.
Less than two minutes later, with the Cowboys moving the ball primarily through the air, Hazlett found Dalton Goodwin open for a 10-yard pass and the very next play at the Red Raider 46 yard line Hazlett threw again to Goodwin who caught the pass but was hit hard before tucking it away and the ball popped into the arms of Alderson who rambled through the Cowboys for a 68-yard interception return for a touchdown. He kicked the extra point and with 4:04 left to play in the half, the Red Raiders led 29-7.
“Dalton got smacked when he caught the pass,” Gesit said. “I thought Harley threw a great pass on that play. Dalton just didn’t get it tucked away before he got hit. That gave them a turnover and points off it, we just didn’t get there to stop it.”
The Cowboys worked the ball and the clock in the waning minutes of the first half, mostly on the arm of Hazlett as he found Kelly open for two short passes of nine and seven yards before finding Hokeman for 13-yard gain to the Red Raider 10 line with 1:21 left.
Following a Cowboy timeout, Hazlett found Hokeman in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Kelly’s kick was good and the Cowboys were back in the game at halftime 29-14.
After the intermission which included a performance by the AHS marching band and the crowning of the homecoming queen Savannah Roth, Trey Bender returned the Wamego kickoff for 24 yards.
Three plays later, Hazlett ran a quarterback keeper for 32 yards to the Wamego 12. Hazlett found Hokeman on a third-and eight-play for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Kelly’s kick was good and the Cowboys were within one touchdown of the Red Raiders at 29-21.
Eight plays after receiving the Abilene kickoff, Alderson ran in a one-yard touchdown, kicked the extra point and the Red raiders were up 35-21.
Abilene went three-and-out on its next series of downs and Wamego took two plays to score again. Jeff Brazzle ran a 31-yard end around to the Cowboy 16 yard line. Alderson called his own number on the next snap and pushed into the end zone for a Red Raider score at the 6:19 mark. Alderson’s kick was good and the score became 42-21 Wamego.
Less than three minutes later, the Red Raiders scored again on 16-yard run by Alderson. The kick was no good but Wamego led 42-21 at the end of three periods.
The Cowboys used a drive of eight plays and a Wamego personal foul to get the ball in Red Raider territory. Hazlett found tight end Jesse Patrick open for an 18-yard catch to get the ball to the Raiders 3.
Hokeman took the handoff from Hazlett for a three–yard touchdown run at the 11:23 mark of the fourth period. Kelly’s kick was good and the score was now 42-28 Wamego.
Following a 32-yard Wamego punt on the next series of downs, the Cowboys used two passes to Hokeman for 23 yards and runs by Hazlett for 12 yards to get the ball to within inches of the goal line.
On fourth-and-one, Hazlett dove into the end zone for the Cowboys to get the score back to one touchdown difference at 42-35.
The very next series, the Red Raiders’ all-everything quarterback Alderson threw a 53-yard pass to York to put a dagger into the hopes of the Cowboys. The score came with 4:25 left pushing Wamego’s lead to 49-35.
Both offenses could not get anything to work in the last four minutes and the Red Raiders rode home with their fifth win on the season and unblemished mark in the NCKL at 3-0.
“Defensively we did some better things and we were sounder with some things than we were against Concordia,” Geist said. “We got some pass plays completed against a very good secondary. We haven’t seen defensive backs that fast all year.
“I wish we could have run the ball a little more but we kind of put ourselves in a spot where we couldn’t,” Geist added.
“We go to Marysville next week and hopefully we can rebound and make some things happen and hopefully we can get out of there with another win” he said.
Wamego (5-0) 8 21 13 7 – 49
Abilene (2-3) 7 7 7 14 – 35
A – Millner 54 yard pass from Hazlett (Kelly kick)
W – York 56 yard pass from Alderson (Ten Eyck pass from Alderson)
W – Quinn 21 yard pass from Alderson (Alderson kick)
W – York 32 yard pass from Alderson (Alderson kick)
W – Alderson 68 yard interception return (Alderson kick)
A – Hokman 10 yard pass from Hazlett (Kelly kick)
A – Hokeman 10 yard pass from Hazlett (Kelly kick)
W – Alderson 16 yard run (Alderson kick)
W – Alderson 7 yard run (kick failed)
A – Hokeman 3 yard run (Kelly kick)
A – Hazlett 1 yard run (Kelly kick)
W – York 53 yard pass from Alderson (Alderson kick)