2020 Football Playoffs Holton @ Frontenac
The Holton Wildcats won a Class 3A sectional title by winning at Frontenac by the score of 42-6 and in doing so improved to 9-1. Frontenac finished 6-5.
The Wildcats did not score on the opening kick off at Frontenac as they had in the game versus Baldwin the previous week, but nonetheless they had a great start.
The home team kicked off to the Holton 14 and there was no return. On the first play from scrimmage, however, senior quarterback Kale Purcell faked a hand off to senior running back Canon Karn and then completed a pass to Karn over the middle of the field, which he advanced 76 yards.
Three plays later, Purcell scored the first touchdown of the game on a QB keeper around the right end from six yards out. The PAT by sophomore Matt Lierz was good (his 33rd out of 38 attempts this season, so far) to give the visiting Wildcats an early 7-0 lead.
Frontenac was impressive after that with a 30-yard kick off return by senior Ty Gates, followed by a 24-yard run on first down by senior Storm Niegsch to the Holton 39. The next Raider play, a pass from junior quarterback Collin McCartney on the left side, picked up another 24 yards.
From there, the Wildcat defense stopped sophomore Mario Menghini for a loss, but a short pass reception to senior Alex Story moved the ball to Holton’s 15. QB McCartney gained five yards on the next play, moving the ball to Holton’s 10. Facing fourth down and four yards to go, at the 7:10 mark of the first quarter, a scrambling left-handed McCartney tried to throw across his body to a receiver in the end zone but the pass came up short and Holton took over on downs at their own 10.
From there, the Wildcats mounted a 14-play, 90-yard scoring drive that used up seven minutes of play clock and culminated with a five-yard TD run by senior Konnor Tannahill. The PAT by Lierz was good, making the score 14-0 after one quarter of play. Karn had a 14-yard run on this drive and Purcell had a 16-yard run on this drive.
Frontenac’s next offensive drive just lasted three plays. McCartney scrambled for eight yards and the completed a pass to Niegsch for 24 more.
On the next play, however, McCartney completed a pass to junior Brady Stanley for a big gain but then he fumbled it and Holton recovered it at their own 35. Sophomore Garyson Booth was credited with forcing the fumble.
Taking advantage of the turnover, Holton then marched 65 yards on nine plays with Karn scoring a TD on a seven-yard run and Lierz kicking the PAT to make the score 21-0 at the 7:48 mark. Big plays on this drive included a 21-yard run on a left pitch by Karn and a 15-yard run up the middle of the line by senior Addison Hundley.
The Raiders got a break on their next drive when a Holton defender was called for pass interference on a long pass play. The result was placement of the football at the Holton 34-yard line. A QB sack by sophomore Jace Boswell and Karn followed that play, however, and junior Conner Collins tackled Niegsch for a loss, too. A completed screen pass to Storey then gained just four yards, so on fourth down and nine to go Frontenac, at the 3:48 mark, had to punt.
The time left on the clock was plenty more than Holton needed to score another touchdown and take a 28-0 lead. Karn busted loose for a 29-yard gain in the drive. Tannahill capped the six-play, 62-yard drive with a nine-yard TD run and Lierz kicked the PAT. There was still 1:14 left on the clock.
The Wildcat defense kept the homestanding Raiders out of the end zone on their next drive. McCartney passed to Menghini for a 21-yard gain but two plays later senior Marcus Pruett and senior Addison Hundley sacked the QB for a seven-yard loss. Going for it on fourth down and 17 to go, Wildcats Pruett and Hundley sacked the QB again as he scrambled, looking for an open receiver.
Holton led at halftime 28-0 with about 293 yards of total offense to Frontenac’s 95.
The Wildcats kicked off to start the second half and continued their defensive superiority with a tackle for loss by Tannahill and a QB sack by Boswell. Frontenac was forced to punt and did so to the Holton 35. A 13-yard run by Karn gave Holton a quick first down. Four plays later, Holton was facing a fourth down and one-yard to go and Karn got the call and broke loose for a 43-yard TD run up the middle of the line, breaking two tackles along the way. With the PAT kick by Lierz, the score became 35-0 at the 7:44 mark.
The Raiders got on the scoreboard on their next drive that went eight plays and 70 yards. Big plays for Frontenac on this drive included a 42-pass reception to Gates, an eight-yard run by QB McCartney and a five-yard TD run by McCartney. The two-point conversion try by Frontenac, a reverse play, was not successful, leaving the score at 35-6. On second down and goal at the two-yard line, Karn and Collins stopped a Frontenac ballcarrier for no gain, but McCartney found pay dirt on the next play with 3:45 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats were forced to punt on their next possession and junior Jake Zeller, the punter, got off a good one that netted 38 yards with no return at the Frontenac 28.
On first down, with 1:14 left in the third quarter, the Frontenac quarterback fumbled and Holton recovered the football at the Raider 26. Boswell was credited with the fumble-causing hit. As the third quarter wound down, Lierz attempted a 40-yard field goal but it was short.
After that, Frontenac mounted a 12-play drive with four first downs that used up the first four minutes of the fourth quarter and ended with a Lierz pass interception in the end zone. Big plays for Frontenac in this drive included a 10-yard pass reception, a 19-yard pass reception and a 12-yard pass reception. Another big play for Holton in this drive involved junior Slater Skaggs breaking up a pass in the end zone.
Holton controlled the football for the final seven minutes of the game with Karn breaking loose for a 23-yard TD run with 1:57 to play. The PAT was good, making the score 42-6 and from there lots of Wildcat reserves made their way onto the field for the last few plays.
Lierz led the team in defensive points with 21, followed by Tannahill (18), Boswell (18), Hundley (17), Karn (16), Booth (14) and Pruett (9).
Holton was one for one passing for 76 yards and rushed the football 55 times for 384 yards, averaging eight yards per play, for 460 yards of total offense. Frontenac completed 15 of 23 passes for 204 yards and rushed 25 times for 20 yards, for 224 yards of total offense. The Raiders averaged 4.7 yards per play.
Frontenac returned six kicks for a total of 103 yards while Holton returned two kicks for four yards. Frontenac lost one fumble. Holton lost one of two fumbles.
In penalties, Frontenac had two for 19 yards and Holton had four for 40 yards.
Karn led the Wildcats’ rushing attack with 249 yards while Hundley had 60, Tannahill 45 and Purcell 30.
“I thought our kids a did real good job preparing for everything Frontenac did on offense,’’ said Holton head coach Brooks Barta afterwards. “Theyused a lot of formations that we had to adjust to and continued to make good adjustments during the game.’’
Coach Barta also gave a lot of credit to the Wildcats’ offensive line.
“Our offensive line really did a good job up front holding blocks and adjusting to the their different looks,’’ Barta said. “We did a good job of holding on to the football and getting first downs.’’