TUSCOLA – The Early Longhorns, looking to win their first District 3-3A Division I game of the season, faced off against a solid Jim Ned Indians squad here Friday night. The Longhorns’ chances at making the playoffs for the first time in a decade were shot down, courtesy of a 61-6 Indian victory.
The 3-3A Division I action was highlighted by Jim Ned’s nearly 400 yards on the ground and an offensive line the Longhorn defense could not budge. That fact became quickly apparent on the Indians’ first offensive possession of the game, easily scoring on a 40-yard rush to take a 7-0 lead.
Offensively, Early (4-5, 0-4) and senior quarterback Ryan Trompler, who went 11 of 23 for 86 yards and one pick, struggled throughout the contest to move the ball. The Longhorns finished the night with 141 total yards and just one play of more than 20 yards.
The Indians (7-2, 3-1) took a 14-0 lead into the second quarter, which initially saw the Longhorn defense working even harder to stop their much bigger adversaries. However, the Jim Ned offensive line opened up another hole, allowing the Indians to score quickly, taking a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Another rushing score and the first passing of the contest, extended the lead 33-0.
Late in the first half, the Longhorns were moving, but a fumble recovered by Jim Ned allowed the opportunistic Indians to score and end the first half with a 40-0 lead.
Despite doing everything to climb out of the deep hole, the Longhorn defense continued to struggle with the Indians offensive line and entered the final period trailing 61-0.
Early’s one scoring play came early in the final quarter. Trompler hooked up with Ty Schafer on a long catch and run but was tackled just short of the goal line. Jose Pesina punched it in from 1 yard out for the score. The PAT attempt by Timmy Smithson was blocked.
In one of the few Indian mistakes of the game, Jim Ned fumbled, giving the Longhorns one more chance to score, but Early was unable to capitalize.
Schafer led all receivers with 73 yards, while Pesina led the way rushing with 36 yards on 10 carries and the score in the fourth quarter. Unlike the first half of the season, the Longhorns had just one play of more than 20 yards, while Jim Ned had nine.
In the last game of the season, Early will face district leader Wall (6-2, 4-0) Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Longhorn Stadium.