Tuesday, 25 January 2022
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Holton Field Goal Beats Nemaha Again in Wild Week One Win
By Justin Fluke
Copyright: MSC Sports

Holton 25, Nemaha Central 24

For the second straight season, the Holton Wildcats hit a field goal with no time on the clock to top Nemaha Central. This year there wasn't the drama of a inadvertently stopped clock or players on the field that led to an unsportsmanlike penalty and 15-13 Holton redo field goal for the win. However, trailing 24-22 with 3:50 to play in Holton on Friday night, the Wildcats drove the field with no timeouts before Matt Lierz kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired in the Big 7 League battle to start 2021. 

In the battle of state ranked teams, Holton needed to convert a fourth and four as well as a fourth down and 10 play, which junior quarterback Lierz miraculously scrambled for 13 yards faking an option pitch, then ran for another 18 yards completely changing sides of the field and got out of bounds to set up his winning boot. Lierz had missed a 32-yard field goal at the end of the first half which left Holton ahead 14-7.  Lierz, like many players, left the game in the second half with cramping issues and the Cats had senior Jake Zeller step in and play quarterback much of the final few series. 

Nemaha Central tied the game at 7 and at 14 early in the second half, then pulled within 22-21 late in the third period as Zac Kramer scored on fourth down and goal at the one. However, following a 14-play 79-yard-drive that took up more than seven minutes in the fourth frame, the Thunder were denied on three straight plays inside the Holton two-yard-line and had to settle for a short field goal by Kramer to take their first lead of the night 24-22. Holton used all their timeouts during that goal-line stand to preserve 3:50 for a game-winning comeback drive.

Both teams certainly had their fair share of week one mistakes as Nemaha Central had three fumbles and Holton had two, as well as having a punt blocked. The Wildcats had 11 penalties for 65 yards while Nemaha was flagged six times for 35 yards. 

After an exchange of punts to start the game, Holton opened the scoring with a 7-play 57-yard-drive as LIerz scored on a 14 yard TD. The Cats had a punt blocked on their next possession but held Nemaha after the Thunder took over at the 28-yard-line. Yet, after a defensive stand, Holton fumbled at their own seven on their fourth drive, which the Thunder capitilzed on in two plays with Kramer scoring from a yard out. The Wildcats had thrown a 20-yard pass on the first play of the season and then re-took the lead on a fourth and seven play as Lierz again found Charlie Gilliland for a 16-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7. Late in the first half, Gilliland picked up a backwards screen pass and returned it 51 yards to the Thunder 11, but the Cats missed a field goal try at the end of the second stanza.

Nemaha Central started the second half with an impressive 67-yard drive on just six plays as Sam McWilliams rushed in from six yards out to tie the game at 14.  Holton had to punt on their first drive of the third quarter but Nemaha then fumbled  and gave the Cats a short 24-yard field as Jace Boswell scored on a nine-yard run. Lierz had gone out, so instead of a PAT try, Jake Zeller ran a two-point option and converted with a perfect pitch to Garyson Booth for a 22-14 lead. Nemaha's next drive including a 39-yard pass from Kramer to Cole Hermesch on third down and nine before Kramer's second rushing score of the night and a kick to pull within 22-21.

Nemaha Central finished with 272 total yards with 152 run and Kramer was 8-12 passing for 120 yards. Hermesch caught three passed for 54 yards while Kramer had 76 yards rushing on 27 carries. McWilliams totaled 72 yards on 16 totes for the Thunder who will host Royal Valley (1-0) in week two. The Panthers won a 16-13 game against Riverside.   

Holton had 277 total yards with 241 on the ground. In a balanced attack, Boswell had 64 yards on 10 carries, Jayden Fletcher had 61 yards on 12 carries, Lierz had 59 yards on 7 totes and Garyson Booth added 10 rushes for 29 yards. Besides Gilliland's two catches and the fumble return, he also had a sack to put together a super game one performance. Holton will host Chapman (1-0) next Friday, as the Irish beat Sabetha 24-22 also scoring in the final minute with a comeback to open the season. 

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Hiawatha, KS 66434
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