Lewis Central football coach Jim Duggan knew his squad needed to play its best game of the season Friday to come away with a victory over Class 3-A, No. 6 Harlan.
Unfortunately for the 4-A No. 10 Titans, untimely mistakes proved costly.
After cutting a 14-0 Harlan lead in half by halftime, Lewis Central couldn’t get its offense going in the third quarter. The Cyclones capitalized, outscoring Lewis Central 14-0 in the frame en route to a 38-21 triumph.
Aside from L.C. quarterback Kenny McMahan, the Titans offense failed to get into a rhythm. McMahan finished the night with 190 yards rushing, including touchdown runs of 64 and 73 yards, but nobody else could get going.
Harlan forced three Lewis Central turnovers and kept the Titans out of their comfort zone. Quarterbacks Max Duggan and McMahan finished a combined 14-of-29 passing for 177 yards, with each quarterback throwing an interception.
“We made too many mistakes against a great football team, and if you do that, your chances of having success diminish considerably,” coach Duggan said. “I don’t know if it was more about Xs and Os or more about just preparation and the mental part of it.
“I don’t know if we were really ready to play. Some things happened and we just didn’t perform like we could. Hats off to Harlan. They took it right to us.”
The Cyclones leaned heavily on running back Nick Tarney. He finished with 142 yards rushing on 24 carries, adding a touchdown run and reception. It was his third straight 100-yard game to open the season.
The biggest swing of the night came in the third quarter. The Cyclones capped a 58-yard drive with a Curtis Schnack’s two-yard touchdown run to make it 21-7.
Will Lansman made it 28-7 a few minutes later when he scooped up a failed pitch in the Lewis Central backfield and returned the fumble 46 yards for a touchdown, giving the Cyclones a comfortable 21-point advantage. Lansman later added an interception and a fourth-quarter, 11-yard touchdown reception.
“We just kept playing,” Harlan coach Curt Bladt said. “They started coming back on us and we kept our momentum. We kept moving the ball down the field, and we finally got some things in the end zone. That got it going.
“It was a tough ball game. There was a lot of hard hitting out there.”
Defense was the story in the first quarter, but that trend changed in the second.
Harlan struck first, marching 59 yards in eight plays and capping the drive with Tarney’s 15-yard touchdown reception for a 7-0 advantage.
Lewis Central got the ball back, and two plays later, Harlan’s Travis Crees picked off a McMahan pass, giving the Cyclones great field position at the L.C. 15. Tarney scored four plays later, this time on a five-yard touchdown run.
L.C. finally answered shortly before the half. McMahan took a draw for a 64-yard touchdown run to bring the Titans within 14-7.
Harlan (3-0) ................................ 0 14 14 10—38
At Lewis Central (2-1) ................. 0 7 0 14—21
H: Nick Tarney 15 pass from Kyle Juhl (Ethan Knudson kick)
H: Tarney 5 run (Knudson kick)
LC: Kenny McMahan 64 run (Caleb Shudak kick)
H: Curtis Schnack 2 run (Knudson kick)
H: Will Lansman 46 fumble return (Knudson kick)
LC: McMahan 73 run (Shudak kick)
H: Knudson FG 36
H: Lansman 11 pass from Juhl (Knudson kick)
LC: Brandon Figueroa 18 pass from Max Duggan (Shudak kick)
Contact the writer: