HOXIE, Kan. Hoxie had distinct advantages in size and depth against Osborne in Friday’s battle of top-five eight-man teams. Those edges helped the Indians score the game’s final 24 points and pull away for a 52-20 home victory.
Hoxie, the defending Division I state champions, featured its massive line of seniors Taye Washington (6-foot-5, 335), Jarrod Dible (5-11, 220) and Colton Heskett (6-2, 215). A returning first team all-state player, Heskett missed the season-opening win against Greeley County because of an ankle injury.
“We just started breaking them down,” Heskett said. “That’s just our motto, just keep driving, keep driving, breaking them down, get them tired.”
He had a key 36-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. In the first half, Hoxie recovered a fumble off a muffed punt and picked off Osborne in the end zone. Senior Sam Bretz had a sack and fumble recovery late for the Indians, ranked second in Division I.
“Really impressed with our defense,” Hoxie coach Lance Baar said. “Come up with a couple big turnovers second half. That’s kind of really what the key was. They got it close there after halftime, and that was big for us to get a couple stops, and the touchdown especially on defense.”
Osborne, third-ranked in Division II, has just 14 players on the roster and missed starting senior guard Lee Carlin with an injury. The Bulldogs have just one player over 200 pounds.
“There at the end, though, they were doing what they were doing,” Osborne coach Brandon Wise said of Hoxie. “And we started being undisciplined, trying to make too much happen instead of doing what we are supposed to do.”
Hoxie used its size to deliver another big offensive game. Junior running back Wylie Weems had 28 carries for 152 yards and three rushing scores. Senior Jared Kennedy was perfect with 6 of 6 for 102 yards and a pair of TDs.
Hoxie led 28-14 at halftime and Osborne closed to 28-20 with 9:11 left in the third quarter. Then, Kennedy completed a key 3rd-and-7 pass for a first down and followed with a 36-yard touchdown pass. Both plays went to junior Ben Aumiller. Additionally, he rushed nine times for 83 yards and two scores.
“He did a great job throwing the ball,” Wise said. “Pretty accurate, and we made it easy for him again, our corners weren’t glued in on their read keys.”
Hoxie’s defense limited Osborne senior quarterback Darnell Holloway, who rushed for 356 yards in a Week 1 victory versus Hill City. He had eight carries for 18 yards. He did complete 10 of 18 passes for 101 yards with two TDs, though missed some of third quarter and the fourth quarter for what Wise labeled a “team issue.”
Kennedy’s TD pass gave Hoxie a 34-20 lead. Then, Weems tallied a 24-yard run for a 40-20 advantage with 11:02 remaining in the contest.
“We came out in the second half and put our foot down and didn’t give up,” Kennedy said.
Four plays later, Heskett picked up his fumble and bumped the lead to 46-20, his second career touchdown. Weems tacked on another TD run late in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
“It felt really good,” Heskett said. “Last week, I kind of really wanted to be out there really bad, so it really carried over to this week, and I was really fired up, so that really helped me this week.”