BY TIM SCHNETTLER
AUSTIN — The Navasota Rattlers left no doubt Friday night that they knew how to bounce back from their first loss since the end of the 2011 season, scoring 26 first-half points en route to a 43-14 victory over the Austin McCallum Knights at House Park Stadium.
The Rattlers scored in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams — with junior Jerbrell Lipscomb collecting touchdowns on an interception return, a pass reception and a kick return.
Fellow junior Derrion Randle also had a big night rushing for 136 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.
“I have been waiting for this game for seven days to get that bad taste out of my mouth,” Navasota head coach Lee Fedora said. “I was proud of our kids for coming back with the mentality that we want to win. Overall I will take that win, but there are a lot of things we can do better.”
The Rattlers (5-1) wasted no time showing there would be no hangover from last week’s loss as they marched 47 yards in eight plays to open the scoring.
After a failed onside kick and an offside penalty on the kick gave the Rattlers the ball at the McCallum 47-yard line, quarterback Shelton Eppler moved the Rattlers down the field, capping the drive with an 8-yard scoring pass to Tren’Davion Dickson.
The Rattlers defense, which struggled last week in the loss to Fairfield, righted the ship and got in on the scoring the first time it took the field.
McCallum (3-3) used the two-headed rushing attack of quarterback Sabian Cannon and running back Clement Jones to move the ball into Rattler territory. Facing a third-and-long the Knights tried to turn to the passing game, but Lipscomb came up big for the Rattlers.
Lipscomb baited Cannon into a pass that he tipped to himself, hauled in and raced 55 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was blocked leaving the score at 13-0 with 3:57 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter turned into the Randle show as the Rattler running back had two big runs, both of them for scores.
First he raced 38 yards following a 42-yard shovel pass to Dickson. The Rattlers elected to go for two, but Eppler’s pass to Dickson was incomplete.
McCallum threatened to get on the board just before the end of the half, driving to the Navasota 19 with the help of a personal foul against the Rattlers. The drive stalled, however and a 36-yard field goal attempt by Jacob Carter never had a chance.
The Rattlers got the ball back at their own 20 with 38 seconds left and two timeouts. The didn’t need all the time and didn’t even need to burn a timeout when Randle took a handoff on the second play from scrimmage and outraced everyone for an 8-yard scoring run that put the Rattlers up 26-0 at the half.
Navasota scored the first points of the second half when Eppler, who completed 20-of-28 passes for 206 yards and a pair of touchdowns, hooked up with Lipscomb on a 34-yard score to make it 33-0.
McCallum got its first score on a 12-yard run from DeAndre Williams but the Rattlers got the points right back when Lipscomb took the ensuing kick at the 2-yard line, broke through the first wave of defenders, broke to the outside and outraced everyone to the end zone.
Lipscomb’s third score of the night made it 40-7 in favor of the Rattlers heading into the final quarter which saw Navasota add a 27-yard Michael Martinez field goal and McCallum score on a 38-yard pass from Cannon to Willie Mays.
Navasota returns home next Friday to open District 18-3A play against the Madisonville Mustangs. The game can be heard on 1550 KWBC beginning with the pregame at 7 p.m.