It was a tale of two very different halves of football for the Rangers last Friday night, as Smithson Valley (4-0, 2-0 in district) turned up the intensity after halftime, scoring 37 unanswered points in the second half to crush the Roosevelt Rough Riders’ upset hopes at Rutledge Stadium in Converse.
All tolled, the Rangers racked up 72 points on the Rough Riders in their 38 point victory, cementing their reputation on offense for being an explosive and efficient group.
“We’re making some big plays, and we’re getting some cheap drives of one or two plays, so that always makes things a little better,” said Rangers Head Coach Larry Hill. “Our line’s playing well, and I think so far we’ve exhibited the ability to score quickly and then also to grind the ball, and hopefully we’re fairly balanced between the run and the pass.”
After a roller coaster first half, which featured underdog Roosevelt coming from a 21-7 deficit to nearly tie the game at halftime, Smithson Valley got things settled down in the second half, which was bad news for the Rough Riders. From that point, the game resembled the Rangers’ romp over MacArthur in their district opener – a lot of points by SV and not very many for the other guys.
“We just wanted to play better,” Hill said. “We didn’t say anything earth-shattering [during halftime]. We didn’t scream and yell and throw things and all that. We just said, ‘This is what we have to do better, obviously, they’re hurting us with these things so let’s perhaps make this adjustment,’ but we didn’t do anything night and day different in the second half other than maybe perform a little better.”
One performance stood out above the rest last Friday, and that was the game turned in by Trent Rios.
Rios ran for 193 yards on 22 carries and rushed for five touchdowns to lead the Rangers offense, and more often than not, Rios also ran back the kick-offs to give SV the good field position that they enjoyed all night. Rios had 123 return yards on four attempts.
The Rangers started out the night as they have the past few games, with an impressive touchdown drive. SV went 69 yards in just seven plays, capped by a two yard run by Rios. Little did the fans in attendance know that this would be the first of 15 combined touchdowns scored by both teams in the game.
Roosevelt answered on a five yard pass from Devan Haywood to Warren Clark to tie the game at 7-7, but they didn’t have the skill to stop Rios on SV’s next drive.
Rios took a hand-off on a draw up the middle and showed great patience, waiting for his line to pick up their blocks as he finally sped through the hole and through the arm-tackles of a few Rough Rider defenders. When he got past the Roosevelt front seven, it was all over, as he raced for a 24 yard touchdown.
Enter Rios again on the next Ranger drive – same play, same result. This time Rios bounced the draw play to the outside and out-raced everybody to the end zone for a 37 yard score that ended the first quarter.
Back came the Rough Riders though, scoring on a one yard run by Haywood, then capitalizing on an interception by David Pawelek on a 10 play, 71 yard drive, which tied the game at 21-21. Sophomore stand-out Brandon Armstrong ran it in from two yards out.
The teams then exchanged another touchdown each before the half. The Rangers used a short field to their advantage after a good return by Rios, who scored his fourth touchdown of the night on a one yard run just six plays later.
The Rough Riders kept their improbable upset bid alive as they answered SV once again, scoring on a nine yard pass from Haywood to Lamonde Timpson. They missed the extra point, however, but still had reason to believe that they could play with the Rangers, going into halftime down 28-27.
The second half proved to be where the Rangers showed Roosevelt that they were capable of taking their game to another level, burying the Rough Riders under a 37 point onslaught that turned the game from a back-and-forth battle into a laugher.
A blocked punt set up the Rangers first score of the third quarter, which came on a three yard run by Dominic Hamilton. After stopping Roosevelt on a fourth down attempt, SV went for the home run right away, and connected on a 43 yard touchdown pass from Pawelek to Cody Renken. The Rangers then recovered a squib kick that the Roosevelt couldn’t handle at the opponent’s 26 yard line and scored on a four yard run by Rios after a couple of penalties.
After the Ranger defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing Rough Rider possession, Roosevelt’s long snapper snapped the ball a little too long, as it sailed over the punter’s head and out of the end zone for a safety. At this point it was 51-27, but as Ron Popeil would say – wait, there’s even more.
On their ensuing possession after the free kick, SV capped a 58 yard drive with an 11 yard keeper by Pawelek for yet another rushing touchdown. (Side note: It seems like only the Rangers can run a quarterback sneak that ends up gaining 11 yards.)
After stopping another fourth down attempt by the Rough Riders, Trey Reinhart got into the action with a seven yard touchdown run. Roosevelt finally got back on the scoreboard with a five yard run by Armstrong, but the Rangers came right back and added a five yard touchdown run by Travis Pogue for good measure.
This ended the scoring, giving the Rangers a 72-34 win and their highest point total of the season, surpassing their mark of 61 against the Brahmas by 11 points.
The next game may not be so easy for the Rangers, however. Madison rides into town Friday for one of the biggest high school football match-ups of the year. The Mavericks boast one of the best running backs in the state in Devin Thomas, and also have a stingy defense to go along with their offensive firepower.The atmosphere inside Ranger Stadium will definitely be electric for this one.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.