STORY BY: JORDAN MESEROLE
– BRYAN – The Rudder Rangers were poised to make their big upset of the season and keep their outside playoff hopes alive.
But costly penalties ruined those chances, as the Pflugerville Hendrickson Hawks snuck away with a 25-18 victory Friday night at Merrill Green Stadium.
Rudder (1-6-1, 0-4), looked early on like it was going to shake its six game losing streak against the first place Hendrickson.
On just the third play of the game, Rudder junior running back Tre Guyton ran 74 yards up the middle of the field to put the Rangers up an early 7-0. Guyton received a majority of the workload for the night, rushing 18 times for 125 yards, the fourth time this season Guyton has eclipsed the century rushing-yard mark.
Hendrickson would answer right back just two minutes later, scoring on a 22 yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Brice Helton to senior tight end Reid Mitchell.
After a 34-yard field goal by Hendrickson senior kicker Will Ward in the middle of the second quarter, the Hawks would extend their lead to 18-7 with seconds before halftime on a 29 yard touchdown pass from Helton to senior running back Daje Johnson. Helton was efficient in his passing on the night, completing six of eight passes for 86 yards and the two scores.
Both defenses came out of the locker room strong in the second half, with the Rangers forcing three consecutive three-and-outs, and the Hawks forcing two consecutive of the same result against Rudder.
With time expiring in the third quarter, Rudder closed the gap to a 18-10 deficit on a 25 yard field goal by junior kicker Colton Bayer.
On the very next kickoff, the Rangers recovered an errant ball that bounced off of the Hawks’ returner’s foot at their own 16 yard line. One play later, senior quarterback Jamarcus Davenport dashed 16 yards untouched into the endzone and also added the two point conversion to tie the game at 18-18.
On Hendrickson’s next possession, the Rangers racked up 32 yards of penalties that allowed the Hawks to move the ball to the 11 yard line on just two plays. Junior running back Samaje Perine would give the Hawks the lead back scoring easily on an 11-yard run to the near sideline, pushing the score to 25-18. Perine finished the night as the Hawks’ top rusher, with 145 rushing yards.
Penalties would bite Rudder again on their next offensive possession, as one big rushing play and another second down play were negated by yellow flags. Rudder finished the night with five penalties and 42 yards, and also had a 62-yard touchdown in the third quarter called back due to a holding call.
Forced to punt the ball away, Hendrickson efficiently ran six minutes off the game clock to close out the game.
The loss mathematically eliminates Rudder from any playoff chances, and also keeps them at the bottom of District 16-4A. Hendrickson remains undefeated and atop the standings in the same district.
The Rangers travel next Friday to Pflugerville to face off against Connally at 7:30.