Gary Spencer stole the show, but a late defensive stand sent Lampasas’ fans into a frenzy.
Late in the fourth quarter, after the Badgers’ senior running back ran for a majority of his career-high 309 yards and his two touchdowns helped Lampasas construct a 35-14 advantage, the Cougars were desperately attempting to save their record from receiving its first blemish.
A series of sacks, however, ended any hope China Spring had for a potential comeback.
After recording a first down at the Badgers’ 31-yard line, Cougars quarterback Tucker Johnson went backward on three consecutive plays as Jullian Brown, Hunter Wilkinson and Nick Henniger produced sacks costing China Spring a total of 24 yards.
The sacks proved to be an exclamation point as the Badgers snapped a three-game losing streak while thrilling the crowd and first-year head coach Brian Emerson.
“That was awesome,” he said. “I was just a spectator for that, but it was kind of neat. I’d never seen anything quite like that.
“Obviously, they had to throw the ball, so our kids were teeing off on (Johnson) and getting after him, but that was fun to watch.”
Brown, a junior defensive lineman, began the streak by producing a 7-yard loss on his first sack of the season, before Wilkinson copied the performance. The senior linebacker recorded an 8-yard loss on the next play, and Henniger, who leads the team in sacks with three, completed the trifecta.
Forced to go for it on fourth-and-34, China Spring turned the ball over on downs, allowing the Badgers (2-3) to hand the Cougars (4-1) their first loss of the season.
Additionally, Lampasas’s defense limited China Spring to just 44 rushing yards on 25 carries (1.76 yards per carry), intercepted a pass, forced a pair of fumbles — recovering one — and forced four turnovers on downs.
“The kids played very well,” Emerson said.
“We lost three ballgames that we should have been in if we would have taken care of our own business, but we didn’t. Then, tonight, we did.”
Weapons aplenty for Gatesville
Andraque Jones’ name was called often enough Friday night in Gatesville’s 37-26 loss to Waco La Vega.
The junior receiver/defensive back caught seven passes for 144 yards and a touchdown, and had one interception in the Hornets’ loss. (He also scored on the interception, but had the return called back because of penalty.)
While offensive inconsistencies doomed the Hornets in the loss, their final nondistrict game before opening District 8-3A games in two weeks, Jones’ emergence gives the Hornets another viable weapon on offense.
Last week it was Jake Kee who unsurprisingly stood out for Gatesville when the reigning 8-3A Offensive Player of the Year ran for 245 yards and two touchdowns in the Hornets’ win over Taylor.
This week it was Jones, and sophomore quarterback Jeff Speer, who threw for 248 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception in the loss to La Vega.
If the Hornets can fit all the pieces together, they’ll be well-equipped to make a run at a second straight District 8-3A title when their district season opens against Lampasas next week.
Salado hangs with No. 1 Yoe, but can’t survive shootout
Salado lost by 29 points for the second straight week Friday, falling 57-28 to No. 1 Cameron Yoe, the same score the Eagles lost to China Spring by the previous week.
But the Eagles traded jabs with the defending state champions, even taking a lead into the second quarter.
But Yoe scored the first 20 points of the second quarter to go ahead for good as the lead ballooned to 39-21.
Salado was shutout in the second half as Yoe added 18 points to its advantage.
The loss dropped the Eagles to 0-4 for the second straight season after starting 0-5 last year en route to a 2-8 season.
Salado has been very effective on offense, averaging 36 points per game and even scoring a season-high 67 against Lorena.
Quarterback McLane Carter hooked up with Davis Little on touchdown passes of 75 and 30 yards in the game, two of his four touchdown passes in the game.
But defense has been problematic for the Eagles, who have allowed 236 points in four games.
That defense will be put to the test again this week, as the Eagles face a Marlin team fresh off scoring a season-high 45 points in a district-opening win against Florence.
Florence suffers second straight blowout
Florence has one win in four games this season, and its losses haven’t been pretty.
After falling 45-0 to Marlin this past Friday, the Buffaloes average margin of defeat this season is 46.7 points per game.
Friday was the second time the Buffaloes were shut out in a loss, and they scored just two points in their loss to Thorndale the previous week.
Special teams hurt Florence against Marlin as a bad snap on a punt resulted in a safety for Marlin, who followed by returning the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown for the first nine points of the game.
The Bulldogs rolled the rest of the way.
Florence must now regroup to face a one-loss Troy team that opened district play with a 21-7 win against Lago Vista.
No mercy for Lometa
Lometa owned an unblemished record following a month of lopsided victories and an opponent’s forfeiture comprised its opening four weeks of the schedule.
On Friday, the Hornets received their first true test of the season and came up short against Mullin — again.
After being in almost the exact same position last year, Lometa hosted the Bulldogs and suffered a narrow 66-59 loss, triggering a downward spiral, with the Hornets losing four of their next five games.
The teams produced an eerily similar game last weekend as Mullin again defeated Lometa by seven points, winning 80-73.
At halftime, the Hornets held a slim 45-40 advantage, but saw their lead shrink to a single point, 61-60, with less than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The squads went on to deliver a furious finish, combining to score 32 points in the final 6:42.
- Salado (0-4, 0-1 13-2A, Div. I) at Marlin (2-2, 1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Salado is looking for its first win of the season and will visit a Marlin team that has won two straight and is fresh off a 45-0 romp against Florence.
- Florence (1-3, 0-1 13-2A, Div. I) at Troy (3-1, 1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Florence defeated Troy last year in a 37-36 thriller but the Buffaloes enter this game having lost the last two by a combined score of 101-2.
- No. 25 Knox City (4-1) at Lometa (4-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: After suffering a rash of injuries last Friday against Santa Anna, Eden was forced to cancel its upcoming game against Lometa. Left with a sudden void in their schedule, the Hornets recruited Knox City to come to town as their homecoming opponent.
- Lampasas (2-3), bye.
- Gatesville (2-3), bye.
BY THE NUMBERS
- 57 — Season-high rushing attempts for Lampasas in its victory against China Spring.
- 3 — Plays run and total yards gained by Gatesville in the first quarter of the Hornets’ loss at Waco La Vega.
- 4 — Touchdown passes by Salado quarterback McLane Carter in a 57-28 loss to No. 1 Cameron Yoe.
- 2 — Total points scored by Florence in its three losses this season.
- 48.7 — Average margin of victory for Lometa prior to its seven-point loss to Mullin on Friday.
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com