LAMPASAS — The offense struggled early in Lampasas’ district opener. Case Brister found other ways to score for the state-ranked Badgers, though.
After sitting idle last week, Class 4A, Division I No. 9 Lampasas did not produce a touchdown in the first quarter of its District 14-4A opener against Burnet and finished the half with five punts and a turnover.
Brister, a sophomore, pounced twice when the Bulldogs were backed up near their goal line, however, recording a pair of safeties in the first half and propelling Lampasas to a 45-13 victory.
While the plays did not determine the outcome, Brister could feel the momentum shifting.
“Getting points on the scoreboard without using our offense is always a good thing,” the linebacker said. “Our defense is a tool that can do that, and we’re willing to get points any way we can.
“Defensively, that sparked the guys, and we were laser focused after that, and then the offense came along too.”
Following a first half with just a dozen more yards of offense (134) than penalties (122), the Badgers saw their 18-6 halftime advantage dwindle to five points, 18-13, early in the third quarter before quarterback Ace Whitehead helped engineer a run of 27 unanswered points to close the contest.
The junior quarterback responded to Burnet’s score with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Jaylon Porter, and senior Cameron Everts ran for a 10-yard touchdown to give Lampasas a 31-13 lead with 46 seconds remaining in the period. Then, Whitehead ran for a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter to cap off the scoring.
“It was all about playing with skilled aggression,” Badgers running back Daunte Cuffie said. “We needed to keep our intensity, but we had to play smart and use our heads out on the field.
“We did that in the second half, and we were successful.”
Led by Cuffie, who finished with a team-high 137 rushing yards on 13 carries to go with his touchdown, the Badgers posted at least 45 points for the fifth time this season as teammate Jack Jerome ran for 131 yards and Whitehead accounted for four touchdowns (2 rushing, 2 passing).
But prior to the offensive outburst, Brister helped Lampasas (5-1, 1-0) maintain control despite a lackluster start.
After punting away the game’s opening possession, Brister recorded his first safety, and the 2-0 lead carried over into the second quarter, where it took just one snap for the Badgers to find the end zone as Whitehead connected with Michael Murray Jr. for a 21-yard touchdown.
Cuffie scored on a 1-yard run midway through the period to increase Lampasas’ cushion to 16-0, and after an interception in the red zone allowed Burnet (4-2, 0-1) to take control near its own goal line, Brister delivered his second safety.
The Bulldogs scored on their ensuing possession, but the Badgers never lost control.
“This is a good feeling,” Brister said, “and we are all really happy with where we are at, but we always want to get better.”
Now, Lampasas turns its attention toward next week, when it hosts Liberty Hill (2-3, 0-1) after the Panthers suffered a 35-21 loss to Fredericksburg on Friday.
While the Panthers will be desperate to bounce back, the Badgers cannot afford to alter their emotions, according to Cuffie.
“Every game is the same,” the senior said. “Every game is equally important, and we treat each game like it’s the Super Bowl.
“We’re going to attack the week, watch film and keep doing the same things we always do.”
14-4A, DIV. I SCORES (district opener)
- Fischer Canyon Lake 41, Taylor 7
- Fredericksburg 35, Liberty Hill 21
- Lampasas 45, Burnet 13