Lucky break robs Rangers of the state crown in the 4th.

By John Kastner

This was an action-packed, rugged Texas-style football contest that packed Irving Stadium,and never was there a moment when the Smithson Valley Rangers lost control.They were the dream team of 2004,with hopes of capping a state pigskin title.

Those hopes went up in smoke Saturday afternoon as a last-ditch field goal by the South Lake Carroll Dragons defeated coach Larry Hill and crew. The Rangers got on the scoreboard first,with 6:34 left in the first stanza.Zach Bailey crashed in on a 1-yard plunge and David Sweet connected for a 7-0 lead.

Carroll came back to knot the score 7-all when Aaron Luna dashed 15-yards and Kevin Ortega hit the uprights. The Dragons tallied again with 8:40 remaining in the second frame,when Ortega bounced a 31-yard field goal through the uprights to lead10-7.

The Rangers stormed ahead and with 1:01 remaining before the first half,Cody McKinney took it in on a 3-yarder and Sweet connected the extra point for a 14-10 lead.

"We were all pumped-up at that stage,"McKinney noted. "We felt we had the situation well under control ...everything was clicking."

"You could hear the excitement amongst the players at halftime,"Joe Pawelek echoed."We had things just where we wanted them."Joe Pawelek and Mykel Kovar on defense.

Back on the field and after the halftime show,Carroll moved ahead 17-14 with 8:32 to go in the third stanza when Luna bulled over once again and Ortega connected.

Pushing forward,the Rangers tied the score at 17- all with a super 44-yard field goal by Sweet with seven seconds showing.

From that point on,things looked sharp for the Rangers as they surged ahead with10:33 left in the last quarter when Eryk Anders blocked a 5-yard punt return for a pay-dirt package and Sweet hit the uprights for a 24-17 lead.

Carroll trudged forward on a tear as Chase Daniel pitched 65 yards to Kenton Gedwed and Ortega kicked to tie the score at 24-all. Then with not time left on the board,the roof caved-in for the Rangers as Luna floated the winning 41-yarder through the irons.

"This was anyone 's game to win,especially with the score knotted at 24-24 and only seconds left to play," Pawelek quipped.

"I 'm real proud of our team,"coach Larry Hill lamented."They no doubt displayed an oustanding role as a team with leadership and self respect ...a team that anyone can be proud of ...a team that never folded and played hard down to the final second."

"There is nothing that anyone can take away from our team,"Ranger 's signal-caller Zach Bailey lamented."We played hard for four strong quarters.Our offense was great, as was our defense. Once again,it all comes down the last play when [Carroll ]just got a good break.

Bailey 's statement was right on the money.Ranger defense was stone-hard. There was never a moment when the defense went to sleep.The awesome tactics by linebackers,Joe Pawelek, Calvin Gore, Andrew Sendejo and Kendal Volz made headlines and out-classed the Dragons by a country mile.


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