The Abilene Middle School 7th grade football team improved to 3-1 on the season with a 36-6 victory over Fort Riley Thursday night. All three victories by AMS this season have been against league opponents and they will have a chance to win the league crown at home Tuesday against Marysville. Fort Riley had a combined 7th/8th grade team because of lack of 7th graders.

Abilene was dominant from the start. The Longhorns opened the game with a 70-yard drive, that took 6:41 off the clock. The drive was capped on a Taygen Funston 1-yard run. Levi Evans added the 2-point conversion to give Abilene an 8-0 lead.

The Longhorns took advantage of the Troopers mistakes all game long. Fort Riley finished the game with three turnovers. On Fort Riley’s first series they went three and out and then botched a punt attempt which gave Abilene the ball at the Trooper 12-yard line. The Longhorns then scored four plays later on a Pierce Casteel 1-yard touchdown run at the 6:35 mark of the first half. Abilene then used trickery on the 2-point conversion as running back Levi Evans took the handoff and threw it back to the quarterback, Funston, to increase the lead to 16-0.

On Ft. Riley’s next possession they fumbled at their own 44-yard line and it was recovered by Funston. Heath Hoekman came up big on Abilene’s next possession. On the first play of the drive he ripped off a 54-yard run. Then, on 4th and goal at the Trooper 13-yard line he caught a touchdown pass from Funston with 4 left in the half to increase the Abilene lead to 22-0. Funston recovered his second fumble on the ensuing kickoff but the Longhorns were unable to add to their lead before halftime.

The second half was more of the same. Ft. Riley opened with the football and Hoekman, a defensive lineman leaped up and intercepted a pass as he pressured the quarterback. Hoekman would score three plays later, on a 2-yard run, with 3:44 left in the third quarter to give Abilene a 28-0 lead.

Ft. Riley scored their only touchdown with 7:46 left in the game on a 19-yard run by their quarterback, to cut the Longhorn’s lead to 28-6. Abilene scored for the second time in the game on 4th down, on a 4th and goal play from the Trooper 11-yard line. Funston connected with Cannon Taylor for the final score of the game. Casteel added the 2-point conversion to make the final 36-6.

“I was very pleased with how well played tonight. I was nervous coming off our two-week layoff, not knowing how we would play. Our kids played smart and made very few mistakes. They did everything we asked them to do,” said Abilene head coach Corey Casteel.

Abilene will wrap up the season Tuesday at home against Marysville. The Bulldogs are 4-2 in combined 7th/8th grade games and 2-1 in 7th grade only games. Abilene lost to Marysville last year 42-40 in Abilene.

Contact Ron Preston at sports@abilene-rc.com.

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