Almost anything that could go wrong for Lampasas did.
Aiming to snap a three-game losing streak in their nondistrict finale, the Badgers made mistake after mistake with many coming at the most inopportune times, and it led to their downfall as Canyon Lake earned a 42-34 victory at home.
Following the defeat, Lampasas head coach Troy Rogers did not mince words when it came to his team’s performance.
“Penalties are killing us right now,” he said. “We’re playing undisciplined football, and there is a fine line between playing aggressive, which is what we want, and playing foolishly. Right now, we don’t know where that line is.”
Among other things, the Badgers committed 11 penalties for 140 yards, lost a fumble, missed two extra points and allowed the Hawks to recover an onside kick to start the second half.
While the miscues hurt, the timing of the errors was even more painful.
“A lot of it was really bad timing,” Lampasas senior Harrison Gillespie said, “but we’ve got to be able to persevere and see that there is still time on the clock. We’ve got to keep playing to the end, and we did, but we just couldn’t make the play.”
Despite everything, Lampasas (1-4) had an opportunity to force overtime after picking up a critical stop on fourth-and-3 from its own 3-yard line with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
With Gillespie filling in at quarterback for a dinged up Cohen Cockburn throughout the second half, the Badgers maneuvered 66 yards to the Canyon Lake 31-yard line with one second left on the clock, but a desperation heave to the end zone fell incomplete.
Despite having a shot at tying the game, Lampasas simply made too many mistakes to overcome.
Canyon Lake (3-2) scored on the opening possession, and the Badgers responded with an 11-play, 60-yard drive capped off by Cockburn’s 20-yard touchdown pass to junior Brandon Pierino.
“I was feeling great tonight,” said Pierino, who caught 10 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
But after recovering a Hawks’ fumble on the ensuing drive, the Badgers immediately gave it right back on a fumble on the first play from scrimmage, and it did not take long for Canyon Lake to capitalize.
The Hawks sandwiched two scores — both on runs from Tanner Faris — around a turnover on downs by Lampasas, giving Canyon Lake a 21-7 lead with 4:36 remaining in the half.
The advantage did not hold, though.
Lampasas needed less than three minutes to go 80 yards, crossing the goal line on a 25-yard pass from Cockburn to Jason Murphy, trimming the deficit to seven points, 21-14, at halftime.
But Canyon Lake surprised the Badgers with an onside kick to start the third quarter, and inflated its cushion to 28-14 on Faris’ third touchdown run.
The squads swapped scores on the next four drives as Gillespie, who completed 18 of 26 passes for 242 yards, connected with Pierino and senior Nathan Keese for touchdowns, but Lampasas missed both extra-point attempts, leaving the score 35-26 with 9:17 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“That just killed us,” Rogers said, “because we were chasing points that we should have already had.”
On the heels of Canyon Lake’s fifth consecutive touchdown drive, excluding an abbreviated possession prior to halftime, Gillespie found Pierino for a 37-yard reception before Keese hauled in a 25-yard touchdown.
The successful two-point conversion pass to Sean Williams gave the Badgers life, trailing 42-34, but they would not get any closer.
“The silver lining is we got that big defensive stop and gave ourselves an opportunity,” Rogers said, “but we just couldn’t finish.”
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org