Burro offense silenced in second half at Houston

EPPS/NEWS LEADER Burro sophomore lineman Jacob Peterson (right) makes a defensive stop during a previous week's action with classmate JT Rein closing in.
S. Lee Epps

Houston came up with most of the big plays - both rushing and passing - and took advantage of favorable field position to defeat visiting Lanesboro 44-14 and keep possession of the "victory bell."

Coach James Semmen thought his young Burros (only two seniors) played better than the week before. There were only two penalties, but a key injury, turnovers, field position and a stiffening Houston defense resulted in decisive second-half offensive frustration.

After the Friday the 13th affair, LHS left with a 1-2 record (1-1 district), while the Hurricanes are 2-1 (2-1 district) with the lone loss coming by one point.

Of 12 Houston possessions, seven began near midfield or in Burro territory. With that field position and seven long-yardage plays, the Hurricanes snapped the ball only 22 times while scoring six touchdowns.

Most of the point production came in the second half. The Hurricanes led only 12-8 at halftime after both teams had reached the one yard-line before fumbling into the end zone.  

The Burro bobble came first. Lanesboro took the opening kickoff and drove 64 yards to the lip of the goal line before a second-down fumble was recovered by Houston in the end zone.

Matters worsened quickly as the 'Canes took only six plays to go 80 yards with Wyatt Walters scoring with a 44-yard pass from Mikkel Schutte.

After trading punts, an unsuccessful fake punt gave Houston the ball at the Burro 27. Schutte threw 25 yards to Cade Roth to quickly make it 12-0.

But undaunted by the early misfortune, Lanesboro responded with a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive. A 40-yard run by Cale Anderson led to a one-yard touchdown plunge and two-point conversion run by quarterback Seth Semmen. The Burros were very much back in contention at 12-8 in the second quarter.

But on that extra-points play, junior center Ryan Holmen would be lost to injury. Center snaps would soon invite disaster and change the game plan. After operating out of the shotgun formation throughout the first half, LHS would go under center in the second half. But punts always necessitate deep snaps.

But before that alteration, an errant deep snap would scuttle a golden opportunity after Ben Snyder returned an interception 22 yards to the Houston 31. On the next play, a wayward snap would be recovered by Houston at midfield.

The ‘Canes then appeared headed for a two-TD halftime lead, but JT Rein forced a fumble near the goal line and Anderson recovered in the end zone for a touchback. The Burros headed into halftime still down by only four points.

Decisive second half

The Houston defense would limit Lanesboro to only two first downs in the second half, one of which with a Hurricane penalty. During the second half, no LHS play would gain more than seven yards

However, the Burros did score after Nate Betz returned a kickoff 65 yards to the Hurricane 20. On fourth down, Semmen passed four yards to Snyder for the touchdown.

 Now trailing 26-14, the Burros had some hope for a comeback. But it was not to be.

Three plays after a 40-yard punt died at the Lanesboro two yard-line, a Houston tackle in the end zone resulted in a safety.

While the Hurricane defense was pitching a second-half shutout, the Houston offense took advantage of very favorable field position to score on four of six second-half possessions and turn a close game into a runaway.

Alex Van Gundy returned the second half kickoff 36 yards to midfield. On the third play from scrimmage, Walters raced 43 yards to make it 18-8.

After a bad snap resulted in a four-yard Lanesboro punt, Houston needed to go only 37 yards to go up by three touchdowns. Walter bolted 36 yards on the next play. Schutte would score from the one and pass to Roth for two points to make it 26-8.

LHS did force back-to-back Houston punts, but the home team would add two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Walter got loose for 25 and 29 yards to set up a three-yard TD run by Schutte and four-yard scoring carry by Caiden Olson.

After a competitive first half, the second-stanza stampede would allow Houston to finish with about twice as many yards on the ground (243 to 120) and in the air (129 to 64). Both teams had three turnovers.

With Burro running back Jake Gathje out with injury, Rein shouldered the load with 32 carries for 113 yards (almost all of the 120 team total).

Semmen completed 7 of 11 passes with no interceptions for 64 yards and a TD.

Schutte also completed 7 of 11 passes (one interception) for 129 yards and two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions. He also had the two rushing touchdowns, but he lost 20 yards while being sacked by Snyder.

Walters took 16 handoffs for 171 yards while Van Gundy gained 48 yards on 7 carries.

It was the eighth straight win in the series for Houston, covering the last five seasons.

This week and next

This Friday, Sept. 20, Lanesboro hosts state-ranked Grand Meadow (2-1) after the Superlarks were upended by archrival LeRoy-Ostrander last week.

The Burros remain at home on Sept. 27 against 9-man newcomer Kingsland (0-3)urrican