The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 9, 2013

Longhorns' passing game showing growth

By Ryan Costello, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — The hour-or-so bus ride home from Hennessey was a quiet one for Taggart Brown.

The Chisholm quarterback was barely removed from his third interception of a game that ended the Longhorns’ realest chance at beating Hennessey in Hennessey in recent memory. It was the second pass that, by way of an unlucky bounce off a Chisholm receiver’s hands, fell softly into the wheelhouse of Eagle defenders. And it was by far the most costly, glancing off intended target Britton Yunker’s fingertips to Hennessey QB and DB Tony Mendoza’s with just more than a minute left, ending Chisholm’s last chance to retake a lead it held in the fourth quarter. After leading 20-13 with 10:30 remaining, Chisholm lost to Hennessey for the 11th straight meeting, 21-20.

“I was [ticked] off,” Brown said. “I didn’t talk to anybody. I was just thinking about the game, and what more I could have done to help our team out.”

The news wasn’t all bad.

Friday’s loss featured a handful of flashes for a Chisholm passing game that had rarely been needed in four previous wins. Brown registered season highs in completions (12), attempts (21), yards (136) and completion percentage (57), upping his season accuracy to 50 percent, and Brown added a 25-yard touchdown pass to Colton Johnson to even the score at 7-7 in the second quarter. The junior QB now has passed for 328 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions on the season, his first as Chisholm’s starter.

“(Chisholm’s passing game) has been getting better and better all year long,” Brown said. “(Hennessey) was stopping (running back) Bryce (Stewart), and obviously Bryce got hurt, so that took away our main guy … Especially against a Hennessey defense that’s very, very good -- they’ve got really good linebackers, probably the biggest, fastest linemen we’ll see -- that’s probably the best defense we’ll face all year, and I think we excelled facing them.”

“If we can pass it on Hennessey, any defense from here on isn’t gonna be near as bad,” added Austin Swann, who caught a season-high four passes for 57 yards, including an 18-yard completion to convert a fourth-and-7 during the Longhorns’ final drive.

Throwing the ball almost certainly will remain the changeup to the Longhorns’ faithful fastball, a wing-t running game that was used on 80 percent of the Longhorns’ offensive snaps entering Friday’s loss.

But as opposing teams continue to pack the line of scrimmage in the hopes of slowing Stewart -- Hennessey managed as much, holding the 6-foot-1, 200-pound back to a season-low 40 yards on 16 carries -- Chisholm’s air threat should be more dangerous, and more necessary.

Likewise, the more the Longhorns get through the air, the more space Stewart will have to add to his 739 yards and nine touchdowns through five games.

“We knew it could be effective,” Chisholm coach Joey Reinart said. “It’s just a matter of getting everything together with the snaps, the quarterbacks and the receivers, everybody that puts their hands on the ball. We knew it had the potential to be pretty good … If it keeps coming along like we think it can, it can be pretty big for us down the road.”