STORY BY LARRY BOWEN
A&M Consolidated will enter the postseason with a bang instead of a clang.
What it signifies remains to be seen, but Consol, already assured of making the playoffs, finished a difficult regular season with an easy 63-7 thumping of Livingston on Friday night at Tigerland Stadium.
Consol, which began the year ranked fourth in the state coming off a trip to the state quarterfinals, improved to 5-5 overall and 5-2 in District 18-5A. The Tigers finished third in the league and will be 18-5A’s No. 2 seed in the Class 5A Division I playoffs, facing third-ranked Temple (8-1) in a bi-district game in San Marcos at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Huntsville sent the Tigers into Division I by scoring in the final minute to beat Willis 17-13. A win by Willis would have put Consol in Division II for a home game against Elgin (6-4).
“It’s not so much about playing Temple or Elgin, but a home game would have been special,” Consol coach David Raffield said. “That was the only disappointing thing. Texas State’s stadium has been redone and it’s beautiful. It will be a great place to play.”
The Tigers have rolled over Rudder (57-7) and Livingston in their last two games. However, those teams combined to go 1-13 in district play, with the only victory being Livingston’s over Rudder.
Consol has shown the ability to respond to adversity. The Tigers bounced back to trounce Caney Creek 41-0 after losing to Bryan, then followed a last-second loss to College Station by rolling past Rudder and Livingston.
“I was really proud of the way we executed,” Raffield said. “It’s the third time that we were set up to be snake-bit. Instead, we just executed and looked good doing it. Everybody’s talking about the playoffs and it’s easy to lose focus, but the kids came out and played well.”
Livingston (2-8, 1-6) had its best moments early. The Lions drove 47 yards on the opening possession but missed a 45-yard field goal.
The rest was all Consol. The Tigers scored on their first five possessions, punting one time in the opening half and twice in the game.
How did the Tigers dominate? Let us count the ways. Senior flanker Derrick Dick threw a touchdown pass and caught one. Junior running back Tyri Merchant rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, all in the first half. Junior quarterback Mason Hickson completed 12 of 15 passes for 200 yards and played only one series in the third quarter.
“It was Senior Night, and I wanted to go out with a bang,” Dick said. “I had a great three years at this field. Knowing that we had the playoffs next week, we just wanted to get better. We want Temple to see this film and think we’re good.”
The Tigers were way better than Livingston, which gained only 215 yards while Consol rolled up 462 despite playing reserves for most of the second half.
Looking for feel-good stuff? Seldom-targeted senior tight end Luke Benden caught a touchdown pass. Senior reserve Armond Jones ran for two scores. Defensively, senior linebacker Bryce Florence led a swarming group that also got big plays from junior linebacker Willian Vaughn and an interception by Jason Jasperson.
Consol’s defense didn’t allow a score. Livingston scored on an interception return, but two plays later backup quarterback Dayden Lane responded by throwing a 37-yard touchdown pass to Kennon Williams.
Courtesy of B/CS Eagle