BY JORDAN MESEROLE
MAGNOLIA – It was a night of firsts for the Rudder Rangers. The team’s first touchdown on the season, which was also quarterback Brady Batten’s first passing touchdown of his career. The first time the team had eclipsed 100 rushing yards. And the first time the Rangers have scored on consecutive possessions.
But the most important “first” for the season was one they didn’t achieve – a victory – as the Magnolia Bulldogs rolled easily to a 42-13 win Friday night in Magnolia.
The Bulldogs (1-2, 1-0) were able to cruise to the win on the legs of two running backs who eclipsed 100 rushing yards each, and five rushing touchdowns, tallying up 351 yards on the ground.
The game got off to a hot start for Rudder (0-3, 0-1), as they recovered the opening kickoff from Magnolia on a misread by the returner, picking up the ball on the Magnolia 36-yard line. However two small rush plays and an incomplete pass later, Rudder was forced to punt the ball less than a minute after recovering that kick.
The Rudder defense then held Magnolia to a fourth down and punt situation on the Bulldogs first offensive drive, but a fumble by Rudder on that punt gave the ball right back to Magnolia. Two plays later, they put the first points on the board on a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jacob Smith to receiver Noah McGowan.
Rudder’s offense stalled, punting two more times and fumbling the ball in the first quarter, giving Magnolia easy chances to score. The Bulldogs struck again with 1:23 left in the first quarter on a 75-yard run by John Grunkemeyer, and then again on a 13-yard touchdown rush by Greg Solomon just 42 seconds into the second quarter, giving Magnolia a 21-0 lead.
Grunkemeyer finished the night as Magnolia’s top performer, racking up 171 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Solomon added another 109 yards and two touchdowns as well.
Rudder finally got on the scoreboard – which was also their first offensive score on the season -with 9:43 in the second quarter when quarterback Brady Batten connected on a short pass in the flat to receiver Isiah Johnson who dashed 51 yards up the sideline into the endzone, narrowing the score to 21-7.
And interception by Rudder’s Robert Lee on Magnolia’s next possession gave the Rangers the ball right back on the 45 yard line. Three plays later, Batten connected on a short pass in the flat this time to receiver Darrien Williams who also dashed 55 yards up the sideline to shorten the score to 21-13.
Batten finished the night 10-of-28 passing with 164 yards, and the two touchdowns.
However that would be the last time the Rangers would find the endzone, while Magnolia continued to end up there, scoring three more times before the end of the game, all of which came on the ground.
The Bulldogs racked up 510 total yards of offense in the win, compared to Rudder’s 272.
Rudder returns home next Friday, to continue district play with a matchup against Huntsville.