LOCKHART — Rudder overcame more than 200 yards of penalties and a 14-0 first-quarter deficit to pull off a 47-37 win at Lockhart in nondistrict play Friday.
“We just had to keep plugging away,” Rudder head coach Eric Ezar said. “It was frustrating, but hey, it was a great lesson.”
The Rangers got four touchdown passes from quarterback EJ Ezar, three of which went to receiver Keithron Lee. Both Lee and Ezar also added scores on the ground.
“Keithron is just fantastic,” his head coach said. “He just makes huge plays and makes it look easy. EJ did a great job completing some balls in clutch situations.”
A big third quarter helped the Rangers (4-0) take control of what had been a back-and-forth contest. Leading 35-28, DJ Wallace scored on a 1-yard run to push the Ranger lead to 41-28. Then after a fourth-down stop by the Rudder defense, EJ Ezar hit Lee for a 48-yard touchdown pass to all but put away the game.
The Lions, who were celebrating their Homecoming — cut into Rudder’s lead with a Noah Garcia 3-yard touchdown run and a 42-yard field goal from Alfredo Jaimes, but Marcus Heard’s interception ended any hopes of late-game heroics for Lockhart (1-3).
It was a wild first half for both teams.
Lockhart charged out of the gate with a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. They took the opening kickoff 74 yards, capped by an 8-yard touchdown pass from Jackie Edwards Jr. to Dylan Evans with 9:20 left in the first quarter. After Jesael Batres intercepted a Rudder pass on fourth-and-5, Edwards hit Tay Andrews for a 37-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead.
After three touchdowns were negated due to penalties, the Rangers finally got on the scoreboard when Ezar hit Lee for a 14-yard TD pass. Rudder recovered the ensuing onside kick and tied the game just one play later on Ezar’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Diles with 11:13 left in the second quarter.
Just when it looked like the Rangers were ready to take control of the game, the Lions dusted off a trick play. Lining up for a punt on fourth-and-5, upback Noah Garcia took the snap and flipped the ball to Jaeden Wendel who ran for 48 yards to the Ranger 3-yard line. Rudder was called for three separate unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that moved the ball just inches from the goal line, and Lockhart’s Diante Jackson quickly turned it into a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Lions back on top 21-14 with 8:29 left in the first half.
Ezar took things upon himself on the next drive, finding pay dirt on a 16-yard quarterback keeper to once again knot the score with 6:38 left before halftime.
Lockhart again took the lead on 32-yard touchdown run from Jackson, but keeping in the crazy theme of the first half, Lee returned the following kickoff 73 yards, setting up his own 11-yard touchdown run on a reverse to tie the score at 28 with 4:49 left in the half.
The Rangers finally seized the lead just a little over three minutes later on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ezar to Lee to go into the locker room up 35-28.
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