BY JORDAN MESEROLE
CONROE – Rudder junior quarterback Brady Batten had a career night against Caney Creek on Friday in Conroe – 187 passing yards, 66 rushing yards, 11 completions, and three passing touchdowns.
But all that was overshadowed by one play.
Batten threw an interception in overtime, handing Caney Creek the 34-28 victory at Buddy Moorehead Stadium.
Rudder had plenty of opportunities to seal the victory, including recovering two fumbles and forcing an interception, as well as a missed field goal by the Panthers (2-3, 1-2) as regulation time expired, but couldn’t capitalize on a night with one of their best offensive performances so far in the 2013 season.
Caney Creek struck first on the night, scoring with 3:24 left in the first quarter on a six-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Robert Gordon to tight end John Lamb.
Rudder would immediately respond on the next possession, scoring on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Batten to senior wide receiver Isiah Johnson. Johnson would finish the night with 97 yards on five receptions and the one touchdown.
Gordon would march the Panthers down the field, and with 10:41 left in the second quarter dove one-yard across the goal line to give Caney Creek back the lead at 14-7.
The Rangers immediately responded again, this time finding the end zone on a 11-yard touchdown pass from Batten to receiver Mark Davenport. A missed extra point attempt however, allowed Caney Creek to maintain a 14-13 lead heading into halftime.
Rudder running back Robert Lee gave the Rangers’ the lead back immediately after the half, easily cruising three-yards into the end zone and converting the two-point attempt as well to move the score to 21-14 in favor for Rudder.
Caney Creek fired right back however, as with 6:21 remaining fullback Jeremy Collins broke through multiple missed tackles to dash 17-yards into the end zone, leveling the scoreboard back to 21-21.
Despite Lee’s touchdown earlier in the quarter, he would ultimately cause pain to the Rangers, fumbling the ball with one minute left in the third quarter, which was returned 19 yards for a touchdown by Collin Sells. It was Lee’s second fumble on the night, including another one on the one-yard line in a goal line situation for Rudder. Lee has had a fumble in four of Rudder’s five games this season.
Down 28-21, Batten would lead the Rangers down the field with less than 10 minutes left in the game, keeping drives alive with crisp passing and even a 26-yard scramble on a third and long situation. He would tie the game up with 6:51 left on a 14-yard touchdown pass to Davenport.
Caney Creek had one more chance to win the game in regulation on a 31-yard field goal attempt by Christian Alvarez, but the kick went wide left of the uprights, forcing overtime.
One the first drive by Caney Creek, it only took them four plays to find the endzone, on a 14-yard run by Chris Coffer. Coffer finished the night as the top performer for Caney Creek, gaining 182 yards on 25 rushes and the one score in overtime, that would ultimately be the game winner for the Panthers.
On Rudder’s first play of the next chance to tie or lose drive, Batten rolled out to his right, only to throw the ball into the hands of Caney Creek’s Austin McKean, sealing the victory for the Panthers.
Rudder returns home next week to face Magnolia West.