LAMPASAS — The hit Gary Spencer cannot remember is the one he could not forget.
In just the fifth game of football he ever played, the Lampasas running back received a vicious hit from a China Spring defender last season, knocking Spencer’s helmet off and leaving him motionless on the field for several minutes.
On Friday, he got payback.
Spencer rushed 33 times for 309 yards and two touchdowns as Lampasas stunned previously unbeaten China Spring 35-14 at Badger Stadium.
After the game, Spencer admitted the knockout blow he received last year was his sole motivation throughout the week.
“I told my team that I was going to get revenge,” the senior said. “I (spent) all week thinking about that. I was quiet all before the game.”
Then, once on the field, Spencer let his play do his talking.
Playing without running back Steven Jazdyk, who had a limited role during last week’s 24-7 loss at Fredericksburg after getting injured on the first play of the Badgers’ second game of the season, Spencer accounted for 78 yards in the first quarter alone. The total surpassed his rushing production (60 yards) from a week ago.
Equally important to the Badgers’ success was the ability to take care of the ball after losing 10 of 13 fumbles during their three-game losing streak entering the game. Lampasas (2-3) did not turn the ball over once on the damp and muddy field and never let it hit the ground.
“Whether it was raining or dry or whatever else,” Lampasas first-year head coach Brian Emerson said, “Gary knew and obviously was going to prove to people that he was going to take care of the football.”
Despite Spencer’s production, neither team scored in the first quarter, but an offensive outburst in the second quarter resulted in a 21-7 halftime lead for Lampasas.
The Badgers got on the scoreboard thanks to a 16-yard pass from Logan Irvin to Charlie Wood less than a minute into the quarter. Approximately three minutes later, Irvin scored on a two-yard run, but a missed extra point left Lampasas with a 13-0 advantage.
China Spring (4-1) responded with a 19-yard scoring strike from quarterback Tucker Johnson, who completed 19 of 35 passes for 266 yards, to Daven Pruitt with 5:27 remaining in the first half, but Spencer accounted for 46 yards, including a 1-yard scoring run, on the ensuing drive to extend the Badgers lead heading into halftime.
“It wasn’t just me,” said Spencer, who finished the first half with 174 yards on 18 carries. “It was our (offensive) line and all 11 of us on the field. It was everybody.”
Neither teams scored in the third quarter, but Cale Walker ran for a 31-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter before the Cougars responded with a touchdown of their own about two minutes later.
With 6:48 remaining, however, Spencer broke loose for a 49-yard touchdown run to secure the victory for the Badgers, who finished with a season-high 441 total yards, including 421 rushing.
“I think (this win) is important because we are going into an open week and into district play with a little momentum and a little confidence,” Emerson said. “Is it something that will turn the program around forever? I doubt it, but it is certainly a big step.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com