The Eagles football team displayed a robust ground game and effective defensive pressure to record a Holden Homecoming win over conference opponent Lexington by the score of 40-22 on Friday, Sept. 22.
Eagle running backs Reco Jenkins and Sam Comer combined for 339 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the game. Running back Jayden Davis Hacker added 49 rushing yards while providing valuable blocking in the game. Davis-Hacker posted two scores of his own to help Holden to a successful Homecoming showing.
“I just absolutely was very proud of our offense,” said Holden football coach David Diener after the game.
Comer cracked the zeros on the scoreboard by scampering 65 yards on a touchdown run late in the first quarter. Senior kicker Lane Inglis kicked the extra point to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead.
A touchdown reception made by senior tight end CJ Reifsteck on a pass from senior quarterback and Homecoming King Lane Siemer with 19 seconds remaining in the first quarter put the Eagles up 14-0 after Inglis converted the point-after kick.
Reifsteck’s touchdown catch was set up by a 68-yard run by Jenkins. After Davis-Hacker handled a carry on first-and-goal from the eight-yard line, and a snap was mishandled on second down, Siemer lofted the scoring pass to Reifsteck.
“Sam’s big run to go ahead early…we knew both of them are great backs. That’s why they both demand carries,” described coach Diener of Comer and Jenkins’s aptitude and their performance in the Homecoming win. “To see them both compliment each other, and then do as well as we did when they were both on the field…where we can attack both sides of the formation was absolutely outstanding by them. I’m proud of their effort, and the O line.”
Siemer’s completion to Reifsteck came as Siemer adjusted to taking snaps from senior center Andrew Johnston as Johnston returned to the role he played last season in the absence of regular starter Jase Kinnaman.
“Lane and Johnston both played really well,” said coach Diener. “Lane continued to play great. For him to hit CJ there in that big situation early in the game was great, and then, Johnston stepped up in a unique opportunity to be able to play center this week, which he played last year. He stepped in and played a great game. He also did well on D line, too. He had a couple great stops on some tough run plays for them that set up some fourth downs, so I’m very proud of his effort overall tonight, too.”
The Minutemen would respond to Reifsteck’s score on their first possession of the second quarter when quarterback Peyton Hopkins connected with receiver Damario Moss for a touchdown toss. Lexington added the two-point conversion to put the score at 14-8 with 25 seconds ticked off the second quarter clock.
Lexington tied the game when Dariyan Reaves caught a deflected pass in the end zone with just over four minutes remaining in the opening half. A failed two-point conversion left the score at 14-14.
“We knew that No. 1 (Reaves) and No. 4 (Moss) were their guys,” said coach Diener. “They wanted to get them the ball as many different ways as possible. We felt like we took away their run game with our front four. Tucker Kauffman and Wes Brown had their best games as inside backers, and CJ did a great game on the edge, too. We were able to take care of their run game with our four down, and three backers. Then, we were able to adjust our secondary so No. 4 and No. 1 couldn’t catch passes.
“They ended up getting some formations that allowed them to be single coverage, and they hit big,” noted coach Diener. “One’s a tip through our hands. That’s what’s so great about close games early is it forces us to make plays deep in games. That experience is going to be absolutely invaluable when districts get here. We have a lot of games still to win to set us up for a great playoff run, and we were able to take a big step forward tonight. For us to be able to be tied at half, down in the third, and win by three scores just shows how the persistence of our run game and effort on defense eventually wins out. We were able to hang on and play harder than what Lexington was tonight.”
The third quarter deficit mentioned by coach Diener came after Holden opened the period on a 55-yard touchdown run by Jenkins that was followed by a missed extra-point kick.
Lexington took its short-lived lead when Hopkins connected with Reaves on a touchdown reception at the 5:08 mark on the third-quarter clock. Hopkins carried for the two-point conversion which put the Minutemen ahead 22-20.
Holden’s defense would take over to keep Lexington out of the end zone the remainder of the night.
“There were big plays on the D line,” said coach Diener. “They absolutely stepped up big and had a lot of big plays with pass breakups, with pressure, and then also getting the quarterback on the ground. Jacob Andes had another good night for us. I’m very proud of how well he played tonight.”
Holden would retake the lead on a 45-yard sprint to the end zone by Comer. Jenkins carried for the two-point conversion, and a 28-20 Holden lead near the end of the third quarter.
Davis-Hacker added to Holden’s lead with two touchdown carries in the fourth quarter. The first for Davis-Hacker came on an eight-yard carry on the Eagles’ second play of the final period. His second score came on a first-and-goal plunge from the two-yard line with 3:35 remaining in the game.
“Jayden Davis-Hacker, this was his best game as a Holden Eagle,” emphasized coach Diener who tipped his cap to the senior back for his overall contributions to the running game. “There was no question he deserved that last touchdown because of how well he blocked. That was something that we were missing. Our previous two weeks he wanted to get it right, and it wasn’t like he was blocking bad, it was just things weren’t quite right. They really wanted to tighten that up this week, and they pulled it off. It paid off tonight.”
The Homecoming win over Lexington marked not only a Homecoming victory, but it also represented Holden’s first MRVC-East win of the season.
In addition, the win over the Minutemen carries meaning dating back to two seasons ago when Holden defeated Lexington for a Homecoming win during coach Diener’s first year as head coach of the Eagles football team. This year’s senior players came up through the Holden football program the past two seasons as it churned out winning records to offset two dismal seasons prior to the 2021 fall campaign.
“Homecoming is such a great opportunity for the town, and to have a community come together,” said coach Diener. “There are graduates…there are recent graduates who come back. For us to be able to see the program grow, to be able to put that show on for them and know that it was their foundation that laid it…it was that first group that beat Lexington. That was our first big win against a quality opponent that first year.
“For them to see it, come back and see Lexington again, and to see our program continue to grow and have the numbers out…and see the effort on the field, then see the improvements that we have here, it means a lot to be able to give back to them. Ultimately, it’s a chance for the community to celebrate with us. For us to come out with a good win was a great way to do it.”
Jenkins finished the game with 1 touchdown and 204 yards rushing on 16 carries. Comer collected 2 touchdowns and 135 yards on 7 carries.
Davis-Hacker totaled 2 touchdowns and 49 yards on 10 carries. Siemer chipped in 10 yards on 3 carries.
Siemer completed 2 passes for 1 touchdown and 34 total yards.
Reifsteck had 1 catch for 1 touchdown and 11 yards. Ryan Hough had 1 catch for 23 yards.
Inglis converted 2 point-after kicks.
On defense, senior Matthew Reynolds led in tackles with 9 total takedowns (7 solo, 2 assists, 3 TFL). Trent Stout had 8 tackles (2TFL) and 1 sack. Kale Tryon had 8 total tackles. Tucker Kauffman (2TFL) and Homecoming Prince Wes Brown each had 7 total tackles. Jacob Andes had 6 tackles (1 TFL) and 1 sack. Justin Brown had 6 total tackles (2TFL). Reifsteck totaled 5 tackles (1TFL). Kasyn Tevis had 4 tackles. Andrew Johnston (1TFL) and Carson Agcopra (1TFL) each had 3 tackles. Aiden Christian had 2 tackles (1TFL). Isaac Bell, Brody Bockover, and Mason Foxford each had 1 tackle.
After Holden’s Homecoming win over Lexington, the Eagles football team held an overall record of 3-2 and stood at 1-0 in MRVC-East play.
The Holden football team travels to Higginsville for a conference match-up this Friday, Sept. 29. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.