East Bernard and Brazos have two different levels of expectations heading into the 2015 season. Both teams, like every other school in Texas, expects to go undefeated and win the state title. But for East Bernard, that is their reality.
ROUND ROCK – George Ranch’s season ended on one play in the second quarter of its Region III final matchup with Temple.
On a read option, quarterback Timon Nolan pulled the ball away from running back Darius Anderson and sprinted to his left. Temple read the play correctly and swarmed him five yards behind the line of scrimmage.
Wildcat linebacker Marquelle Davis-Ponce laid a vicious hit on the senior Longhorn signal caller and Nolan remained crumpled on the turf with a possible torn ACL.
With that, his season ended. Eight plays later, Temple broke a scorless tie, grabbed the game’s momentum and ran away with a 28-14 victory on Saturday in the Class 5A, Division I state quarterfinal game at Round Rock ISD’s Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.
Temple will play Austin Vandegrift next week in the state semifinals.
George Ranch (12-2) narrowly avoided being shut out for the first time in school history. The Longhorns scored two late touchdowns after Temple took a 21-0 lead in the fourth quarter.
Before that, the Wildcats dominated the Longhorn offense. Even with Nolan under center, George Ranch struggled to move the ball against an active Wildcat defense. The Longhorns finished with 271 yards of offense, the fewest yards they’ve had all season.
Temple held George Ranch to 43 carries for 163 yards. It was the first time the Longhorns failed to rush for 300 yards in 13 previous games.
The two teams traded punts early on, shutting each other out in the first quarter. That also marked the first time this season George Ranch has failed to score in the opening stanza.
After Nolan was injured on first down at the George Ranch 20, the Longhorns punted three plays later. Temple took the ensuing drive 57 yards for the score, when Jeff Carr raced 35 yards for the TD to make it 7-0 with 6 minutes, 19 seconds left in the second quarter.
Temple forced another George Ranch three-and-out on the next series and scored again. The Wildcats capped a seven-play, 63-yard drive with a 24-yard pass from Chad President to Chris Minter with 2:20 to play.
The score remained 14-0 Temple until the fourth quarter, when the Wildcats controlled the clock with a potent running game. Both Carr and running back Marques Hatcher finished with over 100 rushing yards.
Hatcher’s last four carries went for 20 or more yards. His third-to-last carry made it 21-0 Temple, as the senior scored on a 27-yard run with 5:53 left in the fourth quarter.
George Ranch backup QB Antonio Jackson overcame a shaky start to lead the Longhorns on two late scoring drives. Darius Anderson scored with 4:06 left in the game on a 16-yard run, before Jackson found receiver Stone Harris with an 18-yard pass two minutes later to make it 28-14 Temple.
Jackson finished 6-for-9 passing for 88 yards with one TD while Anderson had 20 carries for 161 yards. Harris led all receivers with four catches for 87 yards and one TD.
The fewest points George Ranch has scored in a game in school history is six. That came a year ago in the Region III finals, a 35-6 loss to Brenham. The Longhorns have only been held under 20 points in a game five times in three seasons over 38 games.
Defensively, senior linebacker Arian Torres had 15 tackles, including one for a loss. Fellow senior linebacker Cameron Brooks had 10 tackles while safety Jairon McVea had nine. Junior cornerback Mikial Onu had an interception while senior safety Torin Marks broke up a pass.
HOUSTON – If such a thing exists, George Ranch played a quintessential Longhorn football game Saturday at TDECU Stadium.
The Longhorns ran the ball. They played solid defense. They won a playoff game. That’s all been a hallmark of head coach Ricky Tullos’ program in the past two seasons.
The latest team to fall victim to this formula was Fort Bend Elkins, who the Longhorns beat 35-20 Saturday in a Class 5A, Division I bidistrict playoff game.
George Ranch saw three of its backs top 100 yards rushing.
Quarterback Timon Nolan led the way with 172 yards and three scores while junior Darius Anderson had 28 carries for 159 yards. Senior back Xavian Marks added 110 yards on 11 carries with two TDs.
The Longhorns also played opportunistic defense, holding dangerous Elkins quarterback Jonathan Giles under 200 yards passing and under 100 yards rushing. The senior scored three times, but was harried all night by the Longhorn front line.
With the victory, George Ranch improves to 4-1 all-time in the playoffs. The victory also gave George Ranch its second consecutive 10-win season.
The Longhorns will play Kingwood Park in the area round of the playoffs next week at a site and time to be determined.
George Ranch 35, Fort Bend Elkins 20
Key play: Longhorn safety Melton Finley stopped Giles on a run, stripping the ball from him and recovering it in Elkins territory during the third quarter.The fumble recovery came shortly after George Ranch scored to make it 21-7, and Nolan scored two plays later to put the game out of reach.
On offense: Nolan rushed for 188 yards in his first three games this season. He gained nearly that much in four quarters against Elkins, rushing for 172 yards and three scores.
On defense: Arian Torres played a big role in containing Giles. The senior linebacker had 15 tackles, including two for a loss. Shola Ayinde and Torin Marks each had two pass breakups while Kingsley Keke had seven tackles, including three for a loss, and one sack.
Stat of the game: George Ranch outgained Elkins by 150 yards, despite running one less play.
Highlight reel: Marks’ third touchdown of the night came on a beautiful run. The elusive back took the ball on a pitch to the left side and picked up a block from fullback Garrett Brinneman. Marks tight-roped the sideline before completely stopping his momentum, cutting back to the right to avoid two more defenders and glide into the end zone.