AUSTIN — Things do not always go according to plan.
After opening the season with a 32-14 victory at Leander last week, Ellison entered Friday’s contest against Round Rock Stony Point confident it would produce another one-sided showing.
It did not happen.
The Eagles were overwhelmed early and never recovered, losing to the Tigers 42-23 at Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.
Following the defeat, however, Ellison head coach Trent Gregory admitted he is not overly concerned with the outcome. Rather, he is more interested in how his players respond.
“That’s just life,” Gregory said. “You win some, and you lose some, but the beauty is we get to come back and play again.
“I told the kids that they can pout and have their heads down about this game or they can come back and fight and improve, and I feel like we’re going to fight.”
Ellison struggled to produce points in the first half.
After the Tigers opened the night’s scoring with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Zach Rangel to Jaylen Williams on the game’s first drive, the Eagles responded. Eight plays later, Breezion Spiller connected with Tavon Gwynn for a 35-yard touchdown, tying the contest with 5 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The deadlock would not last, though.
Stony Point found the end zone twice in the second quarter, extending its advantage to 14 points, 21-7, before Ellison senior Morgan Button hit a 37-yard field goal with 44 seconds remaining in the half, allowing the Eagles to enter halftime trailing by 11 points.
The Tigers only ran eight plays from scrimmage in the third quarter, but it did not matter.
Stony Point (2-0) inflated its cushion to 35-10 by blocking a punt and recovering the ball in the end zone for a touchdown before returning a punt 82 yards for a touchdown.
“We’ve got some things that we need to clean up on the kicking game,” Gregory said. “That stuff will continue to cost us ballgames.”
But Ellison (1-1) proved it has explosive playmakers as well as senior Tye Hill returned a kickoff 91 yards into the end zone less than 20 seconds after the Tigers’ punt return.
It was not enough to trigger a comeback as Stony Point scored early in the fourth quarter on Rangel’s third touchdown pass of the contest, extending the Tigers’ lead to 42-16.
Hill, who finished with six carries for 39 yards and two receptions for 29 yards, added the Eagles’ final points on a 19-yard run across the goal line with 2:21 remaining in regulation.
Senior running back Antares Gillespie had a team-high 40 rushing yards for Ellison, while teammates Kahlil China (2-42) Jyaire Shorter (4-40) led the Eagles in receiving yards.
Ellison starting quarterback Breezion Spiller completed 5 of 16 passes for 87 yards, and Gwynn was a perfect 6-for- 6 passing for 71 yards to go with three rushes for 30 yards and a 35-yard reception.
The Eagles now turn their attention toward their third road game to start the season as they prepare for an approximately 150-mile trip to Montgomery
“We’ve been road warriors for the last couple of weeks,” Gregory said, “and we’ll do it again this week, and I think it will be good for us.
“Our most important game is this next one, and I think we’ll be ready to go.”