LAMPASAS — Lampasas head football coach Brian Emerson clearly had his Badgers ready to face perennial-power Fredericksburg on Friday night at Badger Stadium.
From start to finish, the Lampasas offensive line perpetually put dents through the Battlin’ Billies’ defense. The Badgers rushed 57 times for 307 yards.
Lampasas took a 7-0 lead with 4:06 left in the first quarter and led 9-7 at halftime.
The Badgers defense frustrated Fredericksburg’s senior all-state quarterback Kyle Grona most of the evening.
The only missing piece in all of this ... was a win.
Thanks to a Billies’ 90-yard kickoff return to begin the second half and three second-half Badger turnovers, Fredericksburg left town with a 22-15 victory.
“Well, honestly, this hurts a bit because our kids played so hard, and they played with so much fight, and weren’t quite able to get the win,” Emerson said. “What hurts me is to see our kids disappointed. They knew we were facing such a good football team in Fredericksburg. Coach (Lance) Moffett does such a good job with his kids. But for us to battle them all night made me proud of our guys.”
Last season, Fredericksburg defeated Lampasas 24-6.
It does appear the Badgers are ready to make some significant strides in Emerson’s second season at the helm.
“Coach Emerson did have us fired up tonight,” said Badgers senior right tackle Jake Dibble. “We came out focused and ready to play.”
In a scoreless tie, with 6:31 left in the first quarter, it was Dibble and right guard Laine Wiggins that came through with some sensational blocking.
Backed up at their own 10-yard line, Badgers running back Cale Walker took a handoff and saw Dibble and Wiggins had created a wide hole to blast through.
And Dibble and Wiggins kept on blocking.
“It was a power and I ended up pancaking a guy,” Wiggins said. “And then Dibble helped me and then he went off to a linebacker and then I met up with him and we pancaked that guy and then we turned another guy out of the play after that. We are instructed to concentrate on our blocks, and then to keep blocking, so of course I wasn’t able to pay attention to what Walker was doing.”
Walker was running. And running. He wasn’t brought down until he’d gained 65 yards.
Five plays later, on a third-and-1 at the Fredericksburg 11-yard line, Emerson called for a quarterback sneak. Badgers junior center Tyler Crutchfield then plastered defenders out of the way, quarterback Cohen Cockburn followed Crutchfield, easily picking up the first down, and kept running into the end zone.
“On a quarterback sneak, it’s up to me to lead the way,” Crutchfield said. “I love it when Coach calls on me on a play like that. I was thrilled when I saw we scored on that play. But all I was doing was what I’m expected to do.”
The Billies scored a minute later on a 60-yard Grona to Jacob Hartmann touchdown pass and the contest was tied at 7.
With 2:33 left in the half, Grona fumbled a snap at his own 17, the ball bounced into the end zone, Grona purposely shoved the ball out of the end zone and Lampasas led 9-7.
Fredericksburg erased its 9-7 halftime deficit on the opening play of the second half with a 90-yard kickoff return by Cole Bourgeois.
Grona scored on a 5-yard run late in the quarter and the Billies led 22-9.
The Badgers immediately retaliated with an 8-play, 67-yard scoring drive, capped by fullback Todd Phillips 2-yard plunge. All eight plays on the drive were runs.
With 6:15 to play, still trailing by seven, Lampasas was on its own 10-yard line. In 14 plays, the Badgers marched down to Fredericksburg’s 24-yard line. But with 36 seconds left, Lampasas turned the ball over.
“Our team worked real hard in practice and it showed,” Crutchfield said. “I think we showed that we have the potential to be a real good team this year.”