By WILL McGINNIS
WACO — When the San Marcos Rattlers can’t run the ball effectively out of their Slot-T offense, they probably don’t stand a chance. Oddly enough, the Rattlers couldn’t run at Waco University Friday night, and they still stood a chance.
But in order to capitalize on that chance, they would have to stop Waco’s 6-foot-4 quarterback, Randy Price, and the Rattlers couldn’t do that, either.
Price rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns Friday night, including a couple hammers in the fourth quarter that turned a reasonably close game into a 41-20 University romp.
“We will have a lot of adjustments to make after we watch the tape on this game,” San Marcos coach Steve Van Nest said.
The Rattlers came to within 28-20 early in the fourth quarter with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Schweers to Hunter Burttschell, who caught the ball at the end of a quick curl route and fell backwards into the end zone.
But Price responded with numerous big plays, working the zone read after a fashion reminiscent of Vince Young’s career at the University of Texas. On University’s next possession, Price tore off runs of nine, 49 and 14 yards, the last for a touchdown with 6:11 left to give University a 34-20 lead. When the Rattlers couldn’t move the ball on their next try, Price tacked up a 30-yard touchdown run with 1:25 left, putting the game well out of reach.
The Rattlers couldn’t muster any comparable offense for the entire night. Gaining only 78 yards in 36 rushing attempts, they resorted to the passing game much more often than they’d like, but the air attack produced only 72 yards in 23 attempts.
Most of the San Marcos scoring could be attributed to big plays by the defense.
On University’s first possession, the Rattlers’ Bob Eric Rodriguez intercepted Price and ran 36 yards to the end zone, giving the visitors a 6-0 lead. However, University blocked the extra-point kick and Davionte Dobbins took it all the way back for two points on the home side.
The San Marcos defense also set up the Schweers touchdown pass to Burttschell, recovering a University fumble at the home team’s 12.
The Rattlers scored their other touchdown on a 27-yard pass from Schweers to Scooter Walker with eight seconds left in the first half, bringing them to within 15-13. But University took that momentum right away from the Rattlers in the early minutes of the second half.
On the first San Marcos possession of the second half, right after the kickoff, University’s Desmond Wilson intercepted Schweers and returned the ball 16 yards to the Rattlers’ 17. Three plays later, Gerrell Griffin ran it in from three yards out, increasing the University lead to 22-13.
On the very next play from scrimmage, the Rattlers’ Andre Ray fumbled and Manny Dowling recovered for University, going 15 yards for another touchdown to make it 28-13.
The Rattlers entered their opener hoping they could control the ball on the ground well enough to keep it out of Price’s hands. But the Rattlers couldn’t run the ball, offensive give-aways deep in their own territory early in the third quarter killed their halftime momentum, and the defense was too run down in the fourth quarter to keep up with Price.
So, the Rattlers will try to regroup this week as they face another high-energy situation next Friday night in Bastrop. Long-time observers of high school football in Central Texas said Bastrop could have its best team since its glory days in the early 1990s after watching the Bears dismantle Hays, 34-14 Friday night at Bob Shelton Stadium.
Two years after the architect of Westlake’s dynasty, Ron Schroeder, ended his one-year engagement at Bastrop, the program has the weight room he wanted. And the school district has a brand new $6 million football stadium to accommodate Bastrop High School and a new high school in the district.
The Bears will open that stadium next Friday night with a good team awaiting San Marcos. It doesn’t get any easier any time soon for the Rattlers.