FREDERICKSBURG — It started bad and only got worse.
Lampasas accumulated 10 yards of penalties before a single snap was made, and the miscues only compounded from there. The Badgers turned the ball over six times, did not get in the red zone until late in the fourth quarter and finished with fewer total yards than the opposing quarterback in a 24-7 loss.
The most disappointing aspect for Lampasas first-year coach Brian Emerson was it was almost a mirror image of the Badgers’ one-sided loss to Lorena one week ago.
“It’s the same song, second verse,” he said. “It is really, really tough to be successful when we don’t hold on to the football. It’s tough to get any kind of rhythm going. We were playing uphill (from the very beginning).”
After losing the coin toss to start the game, Badgers senior Mateo Guerra sent two kickoffs out of bounds before the Billies finally began their first drive at their own 38-yard line, and it did not get much better from there for Lampasas.
One week after losing four fumbles in a 35-6 loss to the Leopards, the Badgers repeated the feat against the Billies, and including an interception on the Badgers’ first possession, they turned the ball over five times in seven drives.
“You will get momentum and then it all just changes like that,” Lampasas quarterback Logan Irvin said of the numerous turnovers. “Everybody gets down, and we just need to keep our heads up after that, hold on to the ball and stay focused. We just get down too quick.”
In their last three games — all losses — the Badgers have fumbled 13 times, losing 10, but despite continuingly shooting itself in the foot, Lampasas had opportunities against the Billies.
Fredericksburg was actually the first to turn the ball over, fumbling on its first offensive snap to give Lampasas (1-3) prime field position at the Billies’ 39-yard line, but after eight plays, the Badgers handed it right back. Sitting just outside the red zone, Irvin threw an interception, and the play proved costly.
The Billies needed less than three minutes to go 89 yards, scoring on Paco Martinez’s 2-yard run on fourth down, and Fredericksburg (3-1) held a 6-0 advantage after missing the extra point.
It was the only score of the opening quarter as the Badgers fumbled away their next two possessions, with the Billies kicker Gustavo Ortiz missing a 29-yard field goal in between.
Lampasas’ second fumble occurred early in the second quarter when Irvin threw an incomplete lateral pass that was recovered by the Billies, who covered 20 yards in four snaps. Fredericksburg quarterback Kyle Grona scored on a 1-yard run and threw an ensuing two-point conversion to Joaquin Rivera, giving the Billies a 14-0 lead that held until halftime.
Grona went on to accumulate 204 yards of offense, including a game-high 128 yards on 17 carries, while Lampasas finished with 184 total yards.
“We just couldn’t get it done offensively,” Emerson said.
The Badgers were paced by running back Gary Spencer’s 58 rushing yards on 16 carries, but it was not nearly enough.
Until Irvin, who completed six of 15 passes for 87 yards with two interceptions, found junior Cale Walker for a 34-yard pass midway through the fourth quarter, Lampasas’ biggest gain of the evening occurred when Jesse Uvalle recovered a punt that glanced off a Fredericksburg player, giving the Badgers a 27-yard gain. Two plays later, however, Spencer lost his second fumble.
Walker, who finished with two receptions for a game-high 54 yards, gave Lampasas its lone touchdown with 3½ minutes remaining in the game, on a 20-yard pass from Irvin to produce the contest’s final points. It was the Badgers’ only trip in the red zone, but it generated some much-needed momentum for Lampasas as it heads into next week’s home game against China Spring.
“One of the worst feelings in the world is to look up there and see a zero on the scoreboard,” Emerson said. “Moral victories are not anything anyone wants to be proud of, but to move down the field and get the score was good.
“We need to be able to finish, whether it is finish a drive, finish a play, finish a block or finish a game. That goes a little way in showing them they need to continue to fight and battle.”