Hornets have opportunities, but fall to Judson in Converse
Surrounded by red jerseys, East Central quarterback Jeremy Jones looks for some running room during the Hornets’ 10-point loss to the Judson Rockets. (DAVID TERCEK/Contributor)
East Central 18
CONVERSE -- In a game that saw momentum swing back and forth, the East Central Hornet football team came up a bit short as it ran out of time, and left East Central with a 28-18 loss to the Judson Rockets.
After kicking off to Judson, and holding the Rockets to a three-and-out, the Hornets got their first opportunity on offense. Unfortunately, East Central was also held to a three-and-out. But that’s where things started to get interesting.
A good punt by East Central wasn’t fielded cleanly by Judson, and the pigskin could be seen rolling across the ground. Senior Justin Organ found himself in the right place at the right time, and recovered the loose ball for East Central, giving the Hornets first-and-10 from the Judson 36-yard line. The drive not only made no progress toward the goal line, but actually lost yardage. The Hornets turned the ball over on downs, and gave Judson decent starting position from the Rockets’ own 39-yard line.
The back-and-forth struggled continued throughout the quarter, and when the buzzer sounded the end of the first, the teams remained scoreless. Three minutes into the second quarter of play, however, the tie was broken as Judson quarterback RayJohn Austin-Ramsey ran around the left side for 2 yards and the touchdown. The point-after kick was good, and the home crowd fans at Rutledge Stadium celebrated the Rocket lead.
The Hornets were unable to make any progress on their next possession and were forced to once again punt the ball away. The Rockets started their next drive at their own 21-yard line, but coughed up the ball a few plays later, and the Hornets were once again on top of the loose ball.
The Hornets took over at the Judson 40, and wasted little time getting down the field. A great passing play from quarterback Jeremy Jones to Dustin Toscano set up a first-and-goal from the Judson 9-yard line, and junior Caid Franckowiak punched it in for the touchdown. A high snap led to a botched point-after attempt, but East Central was within a point at 7-6.
After a couple more possessions and punts, the Rockets found themselves on the doorstep with just seconds left to play in the half, but the East Central defense held Judson at bay, and the teams went into the locker rooms separated by a single point.
East Central took the kickoff to start the second half of play from its own 22-yard line, and picked up a big first down on a passing play from Jones to Wanya Ward at the 38. The Hornets ran the ball across midfield and into Rocket territory, but the drive stalled around the Judson 40-yard line, and East Central was once again forced to punt the ball away.
The Rockets started their next possession at their own 12-yard line. Judson kept the ball on the ground, and Jarveon Williams skirted by several would-be Hornet tacklers for an 80-yard touchdown run. The extra point was good, and the score was 14-6 with 6:21 to play in the third. The Rockets added another touchdown four minutes later on a Brandon Sanders run of 43 yards. With the extra point, Judson made it a 21-6 game, a score the teams would carry into the final quarter of play.
The Hornets needed a big play to get them back into the game, and it once again came from the special teams. After failing to convert a third down, the Hornet punt team came onto the field. The ball was booted into Judson territory, but another muffed attempt at the return left the ball on the turf, and it was once again East Central with the recovery at the Rocket 41-yard line. The Hornets moved the ball into the red zone, and eventually capped off the drive with a 3-yard run from Franckowiak around the right side of the Hornet offensive line. East Central came up short on the 2-point conversion and the score stood at 21-12 with 6:33 to play in the game.
More drama and excitement unfolded on the ensuing kickoff, as it appeared Judson fumbled another return. It took the officials a few minutes to work everything out, but in the end, the Rockets retained possession at their own 12-yard line, and a player from each team was ejected due to a skirmish that carried all the way out to the track surface. The Rockets settled down from the miscues, moved the ball down the field with a healthy mix of the run and pass, and scored with 4:20 on the clock to take a 28-12 lead.
The Hornets began their next drive on their own 23-yard line and moved methodically down the field. Jones and the offense looked good on the drive, though they allowed most of the clock to run off. Jones eventually ran into the end zone with 10 seconds to play in the game, making it 28-18. The Hornets needed a 2-point conversion and an onside kick recovery to have any chance at all. East Central appeared to be good on the 2-point play, but a Hornet penalty negated the score, backed East Central up, and made them try again from the 15-yard line. The run was stopped short of the goal line, and the score stood at 28-18.
Jones completed five of 12 passing attempts for 71 yards on the night, connecting with Vernest Dotson for 19 yards, Ward for 15 yards, Toscano for 14, and Garrett Bradley for another 7. Javion Polk led the Hornet rushing game with 95 yards on 19 carries, followed by Jones with 65 yards, Johnathan Jackson with 56, Franckowiak with 40, and Ward and Evan Moreno with 2 yards each.
The loss drops the Hornets to 2-2 on the season, as the team now prepares for its final non-district game of the year against New Braunfels.
East Central and New Braunfels will face each other this Friday, Sept. 28, at Hornet Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.