SCHERTZ — In probably the most exciting game of the year, Judson was upset — despite Smithson Valley trying to hand the game over.
The Rockets (8-1, 5-1) fell for the first time this year, 40-37 in an overtime thriller, an instant-classic that was a classic back-and-forth. That much was clear after the first 12 minutes of play, which ended with a 13-7 Rangers (8-1, 5-1) lead. That lead did not last long though, nor did any other lead for the first half.
“[It was] pretty intense,” Smithson Valley Head Coach Larry Hill said. “It had the emotional feel of a quarterfinal, semifinal, state final game. It had that kind of atmosphere, we’re fortunate that we made one more play.”
Judson was without its star Julon Williams, who has a bone bruise. Led by sophomore quarterback Amarea Bailey-Davis, it didn’t look like the same Rocket offense. At times though, it did. Hill says they prepared for anyone taking the snaps.
“We’re just ready for Judson,” Hill said. “They got a lot of weapons on [offense] and [defense] and you just got to win this. You got to win this play. Then we’ll worry about next play later and who’s the quarterback, or who’s the running back and who’s the middle linebacker. You can’t worry about that.”
The second quarter was as much a back and forth as it could get. Judson started it off with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Bailey-Davis to Joseph Hudson. The score gave Judson the one-point lead at 14-13.
On the ensuing kickoff, Smithson Valley muffed the return, only for Judson to grab every ounce of momentum left in the stadium. But, the offense was unable to move the ball, and ended up grabbing only a field goal to extend the lead to four.
Smithson Valley took advantage of the miscue, as it took an eight –play, five-minute drive down the field. The drive ended with a Nick Akin touchdown punched in from the six.
With a little over two minutes left in the half, the Judson Rockets found time to kick another field goal. Then, after a three-and-out, the Rockets seemed poised to score yet again. But an untimely interception killed those hopes and both teams went into half tied at 20.
More Of The Same
The second half had a little less scoring but didn’t lack excitement. The game escalated to a 27-20 lead after Smithson receiver Mason Pierce took a post route 97 yards to the end zone.
“I just ran in, caught it and started running as fast as I could,” Pierce said.
The next 14 points were all Rockets, as Judson benched Bailey-Davis so Sincere McCormick started calling plays.
After the McCormick-led Rockets tied it at 27, Rangers quarterback Levi Williams threw his third interception of the day. Judson defensive back Michael Washington took it to the house.
— Gerald Tracy (@GTracySA) November 4, 2017
Later in the fourth quarter, after a sustained Smithson Valley drive, they tied the game.
With the game tied, the undefeated Rockets got a chance to seal the deal with just under two left. But a costly fumble with 1:40 left in the game gave the Rangers the ball back.
“We’re a big team, we’re going to fight back,” Pierce said. “We’re not going to give up, we’re going to go four quarters and that’s exactly what we did.”
With the ball on the 36, Smithson Valley went for it on fourth down and 18 seconds left in the game. This seemed unwise at the time, as the game would go into overtime, tied at 34.
The first overtime drive was Judson, as it was unable to put seven on the board and settled for a field goal. Setting up the Ranger offense for a possible win.
That possibility turned into reality as Williams threw a 25-yard dart to Trevon Moehrig-Woodard. Coach Hill says this district is the birthplace of games like this, and his team better be ready for more like it.
“That’s the thing about this league. If you’re fortunate enough to win, you got to play another great one seven days later,” coach Hill said of the district. “If you lose, you can’t hold your head down too much because you too have to play a good one.”
The win puts the district in a three-way tie currently, after Clemens won its game against New Braunfels. It gives Smithson Valley a lot to work with, but a huge load is off its back.
“I’m glad we got it done,” coach Hill said. “Both teams left it all on the field and to get up and go again like we both got to do, is going to be difficult. Maybe even more difficult if we don’t pull it out. But what a game, both teams. Both teams just played their guts out.”
Gerald Tracy is an assistant editor for TexasHSFootball, covering prep football in the San Antonio region and breaking news throughout the Lone Star State. Follow him on Twitter,@GTracySports, and read more of his content here.
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