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***BREAKING NEWS***    High School Basketball Postponements for Jan. 17    ***
Local Sports News
Long TD in Final Seconds Gives Jeff West Win Against Holton
By Justin Fluke
Copyright: MSC Sports

It was most definitely a defensive battle in a typical week one game filled with lots of penalties and mistakes.  Ultimately, the game came down to one big play which came with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter as Quinn Neuenswander found Pene Saili making a beautiful diving catch for a 41-yard touchdown pass to give Jeff West the 7-0 win. The Tigers got the ball with just 1:19 remaining at their own 29-yard-line after a 49 yard punt by Holton's Jake Zeller. But Neuenswander scrambled on second down for a 15-yard gain to set up the longest play for either team in the contest and give JW a dramatic win over Holton for the second straight season.  

The game was marred by multiple players for both teams battling leg cramps throughout the night on the turf and there were 20 total penalties accepted including 99 yards against Jeff West and 65 against Holton. At one embarrassing point in the fourth quarter, but teams jumped offsides twice, leading to four consecutive penalties before the ball was ever snapped. Midway through the third quarter, the teams had combined for more yards in penalties than total offense. And the combined total offensive yards at halftime for both teams was a mere 91 yards.   

The only two turnovers of the night came on the first possessions of the Big 7 battle. The Tigers converted twice on fourth down on their opening drive before Kaden Brandt intercepted a pass at the five-yard-line for the Cats. Holton would fumble in back just six plays later, but JW could not capitalize from the 31-yard-line, which was the only drive that started across midfield for either team on the night. There were 12 total punts as both defenses were dominant and neither team had a snap inside their opponents red zone.  

Holton got their biggest play on a 39-yard run by quarterback Kale Purcell in the final six minutes to give them a few snaps inside the JW 35-yard-line, but the Cats turned the ball over on downs. Purcell led Holton with 63 yards rushing on nine carries and was 0-1 passing.  A trio of runningbacks all had eight carries in Canon Karn (34 yards), Konnor Tannahill (25 yards) and Trey Wright (17 yards) as Holton mustered a total of just 195 yards on 47 carries against a big and experienced Tiger line.   

Jeff West ran for just 45 yards and Neuenswander was 10-14 passing for 139.  Pene Saili had a trio of catches for 63 yards and Joe Anderson also caught three passes for 24 yards. Pene's game-winning catch was a beauty against great Holton coverage as he earned Player to Bank on honors from the Citizens State Bank and Trust Company in Hiawatha.  Kauli Saili (senior) was named the Giant Communications lineman of the game.  

Jeff West, who started last year 4-0, will play at Royal Valley next week while Holton has their home opener against Perry Lecompton.  The Kaws shutout the Panthers 68-0 to open the season while the rest of the Big 7 looks to have a lot of balance and parity in 2019 as Sabetha slipped by Nemaha Central 13-6 and Riverside nipped Hiawatha 14-13 in a battle of first-year head coaches.    

©2020 MSC Sports
Hiawatha, KS 66434
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