STORY BY: JORDAN MESEROLE
BRYAN – For a moment, it looked like things were going right for the Rudder Rangers.
The rain stopped right as the first quarter began, and the Rangers got their first lead of the season early on.
But then Huntsville opened up their offense full throttle and capitalized on a few costly Rudder mistakes, cruising to an easy 42-23 win Friday night at Merrill Green Stadium.
The Rudder (0-4, 0-2) defense looked strong in the first quarter, forcing the Hornets (1-3, 1-1) to punt twice and turn over the ball on downs twice, the first time this season the Rangers have held a team scoreless in a quarter. The Rudder offense struck first in the game, when with 10:28 left in the first quarter, running back Robert Lee dashed 10 yards into the end zone giving the Rangers the 7-0 lead.
Then the turnover bug bit Rudder once again much as it has all season, when being trapped on the Rangers’ own 1-yard line, running back Jamall Collins mishandled a snap fumbling the ball in the end zone which was promptly picked up by Huntsville to even the score at 7.
The Rudder offense redeemed its mistake less than a minute later, as with 10:32 left in the second quarter, quarterback Brady Batten hit receiver Isiah Johnson on a short 6-yard pass, and Johnson sprinted another 64 yards up the sideline to give Rudder back the 14-7 lead.
That would be the last time Rudder would see a lead in the game.
Huntsville running back tied the score up at 14 with 9:32 in the second quarter on a 30 yard run by running back Harold Johnson, and then took the lead for good just two minutes later on a 58-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Malik Brown to receiver Christian Champine.
Brown connected on another long passing scoring play with 0:30 left before halftime, hitting receiver Dacuan Jenkins for a 43 yard touchdown pass giving the Hornets a 21-16 lead.
Brown finished the night with 127 passing yards with another 64 rushing yards and the two passing touchdowns.
Huntsville added two more rushing touchdowns in the second half, on a 6-yard scramble by running back Darvin Glass and a 16 yard sprint by Trent Bell pushing the lead to 42-16 early in the fourth quarter.
Huntsville tallied up 392 rushing yards for the night, led by running back Morie Evans with 167 yards and Johnson who had another 122.
Rudder added on more score to the board with 6:31 left in the fourth quarter when Batten connected on a 39-yard over-the-shoulder fade pass to Johnson, moving the score to 42-23. But it would be too little too late, as Huntsville continued to control the game clock through its ground game.
Batten finished the night for the Rangers with 238 pass yards, 199 of which were to Johnson.
Rudder travels to Caney Creek next week as it seeks its first team win.