Hor­nets come alive, take down Comets

■ Col­cord blew a 13-0 lead be­fore ral­ly­ing in the fourth quar­ter.

Siloam Springs Herald Leader - - SPORTS - By Gra­ham Thomas Staff Writer gth­omas@nwadg.com ■

KANSAS, Okla. — For nearly three-and-a-half quar­ters, the an­nual Bat­tle of Delaware County played out like a clas­sic high school foot­ball game on Thurs­day night.

Col­cord raced out to a 13-0 half­time lead, only to watch Kansas come alive in the sec­ond half and take a 20-19 lead in the fourth quar­ter.

The fi­nal half of the fourth quar­ter, though, be­longed to Col­cord, which scored the game’s fi­nal three touch­downs to pull away for a 38-20 vic­tory in front of a big crowd at Dee Neel Sta­dium.

The Hor­nets gave for­mer Col­cord stand­out Austin Martin a vic­tory in his de­but as head coach at his alma mater and the team’s sixth straight win against their arch-ri­val Comets.

“We found out just how tough they are and their will to win,” Martin said of his play­ers. “I’m very proud of them. I thought they played their hearts out, even when they were down and things weren’t look­ing good. They kept fight­ing. I was very proud.

“You know, it’s not about me. It’s about the boys. I’m just proud of them. I can’t play. I can’t do any of that, but I’m proud of my boys and how they played, and we won.”

Things ap­peared to be go­ing Col­cord’s way mid­way through the third quar­ter when the Hor­nets scored a touch­down to go up 19-8, an­swer­ing a Comets scor­ing drive to open the sec­ond half.

But things turned south for the Hor­nets the rest of the third quar­ter and into the fourth.

Kansas’ Jager Pifer in­ter­cepted a Raven Difran­cisco pass and re­turned it 70 yards for a touch­down to bring Kansas within 19-14 with 1 minute, 6 sec­onds left in the third.

Then af­ter stop­ping Col­cord on de­fense, the Comets’ of­fense took over and drove 52 yards for a score, tak­ing the lead 20-19 on a Daris Glass nine-yard touch­down run with 8:27 left in the game.

Col­cord came back to life af­ter fall­ing be­hind.

The Hor­nets an­swered with a five-play scor­ing drive, in­clud­ing runs of 11 and 28 yards by ju­nior Blake Gon­za­lez, who fin­ished with a big night, and a 13-yard touch­down run by Difran­cisco to take a 25-20 lead with 6:31 left.

“It was the sim­ple things,” Martin said. “It was, ‘Let’s tackle bet­ter. Let’s block bet­ter. Let’s ex­e­cute bet­ter.’ And when the boys started do­ing that, it turned around for us for the bet­ter.”

The Hor­nets forced a turnover on downs by the Comets with Difran­cisco com­ing up with a pass breakup to get the ball back for the Col­cord of­fense.

The Hor­nets then scored again to go up 31-20 with 2:34 left. Col­cord drove down to the Kansas 28 and ap­peared to have bot­tled up Difran­cisco on a run, but the crafty Hor­nets quar­ter­back snuck out of the pile for a 28-yard touch­down.

Col­cord put the fin­ish­ing touches on its win with 59.1 sec­onds left when Jaden Chan­dler in­ter­cepted an Eas­ton Wig­gins pass and re­turned it 35 yards for the game’s fi­nal touch­down.

It was the fourth in­ter­cep­tion of the day for the Comets and the team’s sev­enth turnover.

“Mis­takes hurt us,” said Kansas head coach Jimmy Dushane. “If we cut the turnovers in half, they don’t score at least twice. Right there’s the ball­game in my opin­ion. You can’t turn the ball over.”

Kansas lost a fum­ble on its open­ing drive at the Hor­nets’ 24-yard line, re­cov­ered by Col­cord. Hor­nets Dustin Fore­man and Colten Dale also re­cov­ered fum­bles, while Stormy Odle, Difran­cisco, Ai­dan Parker and Chan­dler all had in­ter­cep­tions.

Of­fen­sively, Col­cord re­lied on its run­ning game, which piled up 312 yards on 40 car­ries.

Gon­za­lez had long touch­down runs of 44 and 49 yards in the sec­ond quar­ter — both on sweeps — to give Col­cord a 13-0 half­time lead. He fin­ished with 17 car­ries for 232 yards and scored three touch­downs.

Difran­cisco rushed for 74 yards and two touch­downs.

“Blake (Gon­za­lez), he’s a spe­cial boy,” Martin said. “He’s a 10.8 (sec­onds), 100-me­ter guy. He’s an ex­tremely mus­cu­lar fit kid, works hard, strong as an ox.

“Raven (Difran­cisco), he’s real heady. He’s a big-time leader for our of­fense and de­fense. I’m proud of both of them so much. They’re a big rea­son we won tonight.”

Kansas fin­ished with 245 yards of of­fense, of which 235 came on the ground. Glass rushed 29 times for 128 yards and two scores, while Wy­att Cur­tiss had 67 yards on three full­back blasts and Wig­gins 37 yards on 11 car­ries.

Glass scored from the 2 to cap a nine-play, 61-yard Kansas drive to open the sec­ond half as the Comets got back in the game.

“I chal­lenged my line­men in there (in the locker room) and they came out and re­sponded re­ally well,” Dushane said. “They came out and hit them in the mouth, and we moved the foot­ball pretty well. I was re­ally pleased with how we moved it. We took over con­trol of the game. We were able to make some good stops. We went and scored and made it a re­ally good game.

“I’m so pleased with the way my kids thought. I couldn’t ask for any more heart.”

Gra­ham Thomas/Siloam Sun­day

Col­cord’s Chad Ken­drick hauls in a pass as Kansas’ Chance Kolysko, bot­tom, makes the tackle as Jager Pifer, No. 7, con­verges on the play Thurs­day in both teams’ sea­son opener at Dee Neel Sta­dium in Kansas. Col­cord de­feated Kansas 38-20.

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