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Howard junior quarterback Gunner Gilbertson throws a lateral pass to junior running back Jordan Kuhle which rolls out-of-bounds inside the end zone resulting in a safety for Canistota during Friday night football action in Howard. (Sean Ryan/The Daily Republic)

Howard holds off Canistota to stay perfect

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By OWEN REITZEL

The Daily Republic

HOWARD —Howard withstood a furious fourth-quarter Canistota comeback as the Tigers defeated Canistota 32-24 Friday in a Cornbelt Conference battle.

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The Tigers led 26-2 heading into the final quarter and seemed to be in control, yet the Hawks had other ideas.

Canistota (3-4) scored twice in four minutes and trailed 26-16 with 1:55 left in the game.

The ensuing onside kick was recovered by Canistota and the Hawks took it in for a touchdown with 48 seconds left to trail by two. Howard recovered a Canistota onside kick and with 20 seconds remaining, Howard’s Luke Loudenburg raced 52 yards for a score, securing the victory for the Tigers.

“We didn’t finish the game like we wanted, but Canistota gave us all we wanted,” said Howard head coach Pat Ruml, whose team is 7-0 this season.

The Tigers looked to jump on top early. After taking the opening kickoff, Loudenburg appeared to be on his way to scoring on a 60-yard run but fumbled on the Canistota 4-yard line and the Hawks recovered. Howard forced a punt and went on an 11-play, 74-yard drive, which was capped by a 5-yard Loudenburg run to give the Tigers the 6-0 lead.

Howard controlled the game until the fourth quarter with the exception of a second-quarter safety. A Tiger backward pass in the end zone went out of bounds, bringing Canistota’s deficit to 6-2.

The Canistota comeback overshadowed a 354-yard rushing performance by Loudenburg.

“Even though Luke fumbled twice, I went right back to him because I’ve never seen him fumble,” said Ruml.

Loudenburg credited his linemen for his four-touchdown performance. “Our blockers know my running style,” he said. “Even if they’re running behind the play, they keep running because they don’t know when I’ll be cutting back.” 

Howard, which is the top-ranked team in Class 9A, had 433 total yards rushing and 50 yards passing for 483 total yards. The Tiger defense was led by Kaleb Haas with 17 tackles, Jordan Kuhle with 16 tackles and Tanner Henkel with 15.

“It stinks that we had to try and come back, but I commend our players for their effort and attitude to try to win when faced with that kind of a deficit,” said Canistota coach James Strang. “We had our chances but we just couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities.”

Shay Jolley led the Hawks with nine passes for 169 yards and Canistota (3-4) had 118 yards rushing and 437 total yards. With one game remaining in the regular season, Canistota hosts Garretson and Howard hosts Freeman. Both games are on Thursday.

First Quarter

H: Luke Loudenburg 5 run (conversion failed) Second Quarter

C: safety

H: Jordan Kuhle 6 run (Bailey Neises fumble recover)

Third Quarter

H: Loudenburg 52 run (conversion failed)

Fourth Quarter

H: Loudenburg 65 run (conversion failed).

C: Nick Hofer 5 run (Jonathan Dick recovered fumble)

C: Shay Jolley 1 run (conversion failed)

C: Jerad Nielsen 10 pass from Jolley (Hofer run)

H: Loudenburg 51 run (conversion failed)

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