STORY BY: JORDAN MESEROLE
MAGNOLIA – It might be the play that defines the rest of the Rudder Rangers’ football season.
With time expiring, Rudder quarterback Luke Piper launched a 39-yard pass into the end zone that somehow was brought down by receiver Llwelyn Boswell in the middle of four Magnolia West defenders, but was ruled down at the 1-yard line, handing the Mustangs a 30-24 victory over the Rangers Friday night in Magnolia.
The exciting game-ending play capped off a frustrating offensive night for Rudder (2-4, 2-2), in which penalties and inability to efficiently move the ball deflated a generally impressive performance by the Ranger defense.
Magnolia West (3-3, 2-3) had its own miscues on the night practically trying to give a victory to Rudder, including an interception, a mis-snap on a punt resulting in a Rudder touchdown, a fumble, three punts, two turnover on downs, and two missed extra-point attempts, but was able to hang on to grab the six-point victory.
The Mustangs took a quick 13-0 lead in the first quarter, on two consecutive rushing touchdowns by Magnolia West junior running back Brady Bynum of 1-yard and 7-yards respectively. Bynum finished the night as the Mustangs’ top scorer, bringing in all four touchdowns, with 55 yards on the ground.
The Rudder offense came alive in the second quarter however, rattling off 17 unanswered points, including touchdown runs of 35-yards and 11-yards by senior running back Tre Guyton to take a 17-13 lead into halftime. Guyton finished the night as Rudder’s top performer, racking up 180 rushing yards and the two scores. It is the sixth consecutive 100-yard or more game for Guyton on the ground, and also gave him 1,000 yards on the season to push his lead as the top rusher in district 18-4A even further.
In the second half, the Rudder offense would stall however, going three-and-out on three of its next four possessions, and Piper tossing an interception on the other possession. Magnolia West took advantage of the inability of Rudder to score, adding two more touchdowns from Bynum, and a field goal to take the 30-24 lead. The Mustang’s offense finished the night with 264 total yards, including 141 rushing yards by sophomore running back Chris Nicholson.
With 1:51 left in the game, the Rudder defense made a strong stand against Magnolia West, giving the ball back to the offense with 0:13 remaining in the fourth quarter.
After Piper rattled off a 16-yard run to the 40-yard line, Rudder got its final chance with just 0:05 on the clock. Piper in the shotgun formation narrowly avoided a sack, rolled back out to his left, and launched a wobbly ball into the air towards the endzone. But despite a miraculous reception by Boswell, the officials deemed him a yard short and finalizing the victory for Magnolia West.
Rudder will return home to Merrill Green Stadium next Friday to face off against Waller. Kick is set for 7:30 pm in Bryan.