South Gray survives scare at Hodgeman County
JETMORE, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Fourteen points in the first 23 seconds. Who could have guessed the final score would end up at 22-20? Trailing 20-16 at the half, South Gray scored the only touchdown of the second half to remain unbeaten with the 22-20 win against Hodgeman County.
Things began with a bang as South Gray senior Kimble Martin returned the opening kick 72 yards for the first points of the night just 11 seconds in. Hodgeman County senior Conner Ruff took the first play from scrimmage 65 yards but the Longhorn 2-point try failed in a night where those extra points would loom large.
Hodgeman County kept up the heat, forcing a Rebel turnover on towns then marching 58 yards down the field. After being stymied three times inside the 5-yard line, senior quarterback Isaac Salmans finally got around the outside on fourth down. Senior Dalton Lee added the two points for a 14-8 score.
Both offenses were forced to punt on their next drives. Ruff’s 56-yard punt switched the field and pinned the Rebels on their own 14 yard line late in the first quarter. Quarterback Aaron Skidmore completed a 34-yard pass to Ethan Salmans on a third-and-long. A few players later it was Skidmore running in from six yards out to put South Gray back on top 16-14.
The Longhorns marched right back down the field before the half. Isaac Salmans completed a 38-yard pass to Ruff to keep the drive alive, and the Horns used a penalty to convert a fourth down on the same drive. With 2:10 to play in the half, Salmans snuck in from a yard out to give his side a 20-16 lead heading into the intermission.
Things slowed way down in the final two quarters. The teams combined for five punts, two turnovers on downs, and Martin capped a big night with a late interception for South Gray.
The deciding factor, then, was the first Rebel drive of the third quarter. Skidmore scored from a yard out. Even though the 2-point pass attempt failed, South Gray still pulled ahead 22-20 with 6:45 still to play in the third. That would prove to be the final score.
Ruff rushed for 97 of his 108 yards in the first half for Hodgeman County. Salmans netted 40 yards on his 19 attempts. He threw for most of his 97 yards in the second half, finishing the night with seven completions on 16 attempts with an interception. Lee caught five passes in the second half for 58 yards.
Skidmore rushed for 90 yards on 23 carries to lead South Gray, and the senior quarterback also threw for 43 yards on 4-of-7 passing.
South Gray moves to 7-0 overall and will host unbeaten Wichita County next Friday for a district title. Hodgeman County falls to 4-3 overall but 1-3 in the loaded Div. 1, District 7. The Longhorns will likely need a win at Meade to keep any playoff hopes alive.
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