STORY BY: JORDAN MESEROLE
BRYAN – The 2013 season for the Rudder Rangers ended much the same way it started for the team in its first game – slow offensive movement and defensive miscues in a runaway game by its opponent.
The Rangers finished with negative rushing yards and no first downs in the first half of Friday’s game at Merrill Green Stadium, where the visiting Montgomery Bears cruised to an easy 35-14 victory.
The loss also meant that the Rangers finished the season winless (0-10, 0-8), the second time in the team’s history that it finished without a victory.
Montgomery struck first and fast in the first quarter of the game, scoring on the Bears’ third play of its first drive of the game. With just 10:49 left on the clock in the first quarter, quarterback Major Johnson connected on a 42-yard touchdown pass to Ken’dre Howard giving Montgomery a 7-0 lead.
The Rudder defense would step up on the next three drives, forcing two three-and-out situations, as well as a missed 41-yard field goal to keep the game a close one touchdown deficit heading into the second quarter.
The Rudder offense would not capitalize on the chances handed to them by the defense however. Rudder was forced to punt on every single of its possessions in the first half, and was forced to six three-and-out situations.
Montgomery would find the end zone two more times in the second quarter, both on big scoring plays. The first came with 8:56 remaining before halftime, on a 51-yard run by running back Paul Allen, giving the Bears a 13-0 lead. The second score happened on the next possession, on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Howard once again. Howard finished the night 7-13 with 98 passing yards and the two scores.
In the second half, the Bears went to the ground game, only attempting two passes the entire half and finding the end zone two more times on a 59-yard scramble by Allen and a 4-yard run by Chris Hatchett, both in the third quarter. Allen finished the night with 173 rushing yards and the two scores, while Hatchett added another 116 yards on the ground and the one score. The Bears tallied up 310 total rushing yards on the night.
Rudder would eventually find the goal line twice in the third quarter, once on a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brady Batten to receiver Isiah Johnson, and a second time on a 11-yard fade pass from Batten to Johnson again. Batten finished the night as Rudder’s top performer, gaining 131 yards through the air and was the lead rusher with just 6 total rushing yards for the night.
It would be the only spark the offense would have the entire night however, as all the remaining drives in the second half Rudder was forced to three-and-out’s.
The loss ended Rudder’s season, while Montgomery will move on to the playoffs for District 18-4A.