The Abilene Cowboys won easily on the road Friday at Homer Hanson Stadium in Marysville, a place Coach Jeff Geist had said he really doesn’t like to play.
Maybe after Friday, Geist might change his mind as the Cowboys dominated the Bulldogs 42-7 in a North Central Kansas League game.
“It was nice to get a win tonight,” Geist said. “We did some nice things tonight and we did some not so nice things at times.”
The Cowboys were able to run the ball for 222 yards on 41 carries and three touchdowns and Harley Hazlett and Chase Stalder combined for eight-of-16 passing for 251 yards and two scores.
Stalder, returning from an injury, started the game at quarterback for the Cowboys and led Abilene, after receiving the opening kickoff, on a seven play, 63 yard drive with a two-yard dive into the end zone. Keil Kelly’s kick was good and the Cowboys led 7-0 with 9:43 to play in the first quarter.
Tanner Hoekman had a rush for 26 yards and Stalder added 22 more on a quarterback keeper on the drive.
“We were able to open it up early with both quarterbacks, got Tanner open down the middle a couple of times,” Geist said. “I thought our option early did a nice job, we’ve still got a few things to polish upon.”
The Cowboys were able to add another first quarter score on a three-play 70-yard touchdown pass from Hazlett to Hoekman down the right side of the field. Kelly’s kick was good and Cowboys led 14-0 with 2:16 left in the opening period.
The Cowboy defense held the Bulldogs to five plays before time ran out in the quarter.
The second quarter started with a punt by the Bulldogs to the Cowboy 25 yard line. Two plays later Stalder found Dalton Goodwin wide open streaking down the right side of the field for a 73-yard pass. Goodwin was tackled at the 2-yard line. On the next play, Stalder pushed into the end zone for a Cowboy touchdown. Kelly’s kick was good and Abilene led 21-0 with 9:03 still on the clock.
Marysville had one extended drive in the first half and it came at 4:42 mark in the second quarter. The Bulldogs were able to begin at the Cowboy 37 yard line and six plays later they found themselves with a fourth-and-22 on the Cowboy 34.
Following consecutive time-outs by both coaches, Marysville coach Dustin Heuer decided to have his quarterback Tristan Hormann launch a rare pass (only the third attempt of the game) to an open Ian Roever for a 34-yard touchdown. Hormann kicked the extra point and the Bulldogs got on the scoreboard with 2:35 left in the half and a Cowboy 21-7 lead.
The second half began much like the first quarter had gone. The Bulldogs received the kickoff at their own 9 and went three-and–out.
The Cowboys took the punt at the Bulldog 48 and two plays later, Stalder took off around left end for a 34-yard touchdown run. The snap on the extra point attempt was bobbled but holder Carson Sherbert was able to control the ball and pass to a streaking Kelly into the end zone for a two-point conversion. The score came at the 9:43 mark and pushed Abilene’s lead to 29-7.
Abilene struck again on its next possession with a 67-yard Hazlett to Kelly touchdown pass. Kelly’s kick was good and the Cowboys led 36-7 with just over six minutes left in the third quarter.
The final period began with the Cowboys on the Marysville 45 driving into a southwest wind that came up during the later part of the game.
Stalder passed to Jesse Patrick for 11 yards, ran twice for 15 yards and Trey Bender carried twice to the Bulldog 8. On third and eight, Stalder was intercepted at the 2 as the wind caught his lob pass to Patrick in the back of the end zone.
The Bulldogs started with the ball at their 2 and on the first play from scrimmage Hokeman nailed Brock Watts, who fumbled, and Cowboy sophomore Cale Mayden recovered the ball in the end zone for an Abilene score.
Kelly’s kick died in the wind and the score ended at 42-7 Cowboys.
Reggie Koop and Blake Anguiano led the Cowboy defense in tackles with 14 and 10 respectively.
“We got some points on the board early and we finally got a turnover for a score, which is nice,” Geist said. “We’ve been pounding the kids about getting turnovers and Marysville put the ball on the ground a few times but we couldn’t get to it and finally Cale got one for us.
“I’m pretty happy with the way our kids played. Right before half, I think we kind of flattened out and we got caught looking into the backfield on that touchdown. I’ll put that on us coaches as well as the kids for not being prepared on that play.”
The Cowboys travel to 2-4 Chapman Friday. This will not only be the final NCKL game of the season it will begin district play for both teams. With the changes in Class 4A, Abilene and Chapman will be in different districts next year in football.
“We’ve got to stop the run next week at Chapman,” Geist said. “Obviously we didn’t do a very good job of stopping it every once in a while tonight. We have to stiffen up a little.”
Abilene (3-3) 14 7 15 6 – 42
Marysville (0-6) 0 7 0 0 - 7
A – Stalder 2-yard run (Kelly kick)
A – Hoekman 70 –yard pass from Hazlett (Kelly kick)
A – Stalder 2-yard run (Kelly kick)
M – Roever 34-yard pass Hormann (Roever kick)
A – Stalder 32-yard run (Kelly pass from Sherbert)
A – Kelly 67-yard pass from Hazlett (Kelly kick)
A – Mayden fumble recovery in end zone (kick failed)