STORY BY: JORDAN MESEROLE
EL CAMPO – How does a 170 pound defensive player stop a 220 pound running back? You don’t.
El Campo senior running back BJ Flagg bruised the Rudder defensive line Friday night in El Campo, helping propel the Ricebirds to a 41-0 victory over the visiting Rangers.
In fact, El Campo rarely used the pass attack, racking up 140 rushing yards and four touchdowns on the ground in the win.
The game started with a positive twist, as on the third play of the game, Rudder linebacker Flederick Lewis intercepted a pass by El Campo quarterback DJ Washington. But Rudder quickly had to punt the ball back on a three-and-out, and El Campo never looked back.
On the next El Campo drive, the Rudder defensive held strong, forcing the Ricebirds to punt after 13 plays. But a muffed punt by Rudder returner Robert Lee gave El Campo the ball right back on the 14 yard line. Two plays later, Flagg dashed into the end zone for the first score of the game with 0:09 left in the first quarter.
Rudder would then fumble on its next two offensive possessions, and both times was recovered by El Campo defensive end Clayton Kresta. Both turnovers resulted in points for El Campo, including a 50 yard touchdown pass by quarterback Kory Supak to running back Keith Sparks, and a two yard rushing score by Sparks both in the second quarter. Sparks finished the night as the top performer in yards for El Campo, tallying up 73 yards on the ground, 72 receiving and three touchdowns.
A 22-yard field goal by Alex Montes before halftime gave El Campo a 24-0 lead heading into the locker room.
The Rudder offense didn’t fare much better in the second half of the game, only gaining 33 rushing yards and completing no passes. Rudder junior quarterback Brady Batten had perhaps the toughest night for the Rangers, completing no passes on 15 attempts.
El Campo however continued to focus on the running attack, only attempting two more passes in the second half of the game, adding two more rushing touchdowns of six yards by Sparks, and two yards by Isiah Villereal. On the night, the Ricebirds rushed the ball 55 times compared to only six pass attempts.
Defensively, the Rudder defense showed signs of promise for the season, as in the second half they forced El Campo to punt twice on a three-and-out situation, and held the Ricebirds to a field goal on another defensive stand. Charlie Watt, Justin Vasquez, and Spencer Choka all had huge sacks for the Rangers as well on the night. Senior punter Hayden Baron had a big night for Rudder as well, racking up six punts and averaging 53 yards per punt.
Rudder looks to get not only its first win of the season, but also its first touchdown of the year when it travels to Magnolia for the beginning of District 18-4A play.