LAMPASAS — It wasn’t the start Jimmy Randolph was looking for from his inexperienced Lampasas Badger football team.
Although the Badgers showed resilience and toughness in Friday night’s 14-7 loss to Smithville, they also displayed a penchant for mental mistakes that killed drives.
The two biggest were miscues in the red zone that were both returned for Tiger touchdowns — with one being called back due to a Smithville penalty.
“Too many turnovers,” said Randolph. “Lack of focus and immaturity from not playing enough varsity football games.”
Smithville (1-0) opened the game with a five-minute drive that culminated in a 15-yard Denton Cooper touchdown run that gave the Tigers a 6-0 lead with 7:17 left in the first quarter following a missed extra point.
The Badgers (0-1) first possession ate up the rest of the opening quarter and continued into the second as they drove down to the Tigers’ 6-yard line. Junior tailback Steven Jazdyk attempted to score on an outside run but was stripped of the ball and the Tigers’ Jimmie Gonzales scooped it up and returned it 96 yards for the score and a 14-0 lead after a successful two-point conversion.
On the following drive, Lampasas started at its own 31-yard line and used three Jazdyk runs to move the ball to the 46. The Badgers would get inside the redzone, but a personal foul pushed them out of scoring position and the drive stalled after a Kleg Kennedy incomplete pass on fourth down.
“We can get a lot better,” Randolph said. “We found a whole lot of things we can improve on.”
The turnover bug struck Lampasas again on the second half’s opening drive. After Beau Webb returned the kick-off to the Badgers’ 35-yard line, he received the handoff on a sweep to the right and ran for a 20-yard gain but was hit hard at the sideline and fumbled.
“(That was) sideline mismanagement (and it was) my fault but it won’t happen again,” Randolph said.
The Tigers recovered and managed to get two first downs on the drive but two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties cost Smithville 30 yards and the drive end on a failed fourth down attempt.
Again Lampasas built an extended drive that put them inside the redzone and again a turnover killed the drive.
Facing second down and nine yards to go, Kennedy fumbled the snap in the shotgun formation. Cooper picked it for the Tigers and ran it back for what looked like a touchdown, but an illegal block in the back erased the score.
The Badgers finally crossed the goal line in the fourth quarter.
Due to a Tigers’ muffed snap on a punt attempt and a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Lampasas started at the Smithville 26-yard line and five plays later Jazdyk scored on a 15-yard scamper. The score was 14-7 after a Josh Barbero extra point.
The Badgers had one more opportunity to tie the game but a dropped pass on 4th-and-6 with 1:06 remaining seased their fate, and Smithville kneeled three times to run the clock.
“(We have to) hang on to the football,” Randolph said. “We’ll be ready for next Friday.”