By TONY EIERDAM
Depth is a key issue in football, particularly at the high school level, and Friday night in a District 6-3A contest at Ram Stadium that quality became quite important.
The Mineral Wells Rams dropped a 35-19 decision to rival Springtown as the Porcupines’ up-tempo offense finally wore down the scrappy MWHS defense.
In a game that saw five lead chances in the first 31 minutes of the contest, the Porcupines came back to score three unanswered touchdowns in the last quarter and a half as the Rams’ defense – a defense that had several players playing on both defense and offense – could not keep pace although the unit held Springtown under its average of rushing yards, passing yards and total yards.
The loss drops the Rams (1-8) to 1-3 in district play and eliminated the team from playoff contention. MWHS will close the season Friday (Nov. 8) at first-place Kennedale. Springtown (4-5) elevated its district record to 3-1.
Despite giving up five touchdowns, the Rams’ defense recorded a season-high five turnovers, including one that went for a score. But it was not enough to stop Springtown’s balanced offensive attack as the Porcupines used the fourth quarter to run down the clock to preserve the win.
“The defense just got worn down,” Rams head coach Chuck Lawrence said. “We knew they were going to run a NASCAR offense, and they want to run a ton of plays to try and wear you down.
“We are so thin that we had back ups going in for back ups.
“We had a couple of injuries that just made us pencil thin, and we just flat wore down in the second half.
“Our defense, without question, played with a lot of heart. After the game every coach on Springtown’s staff said they admired our defense for fighting and clawing until the very end.
“We played hard, we came up short, but I am mega proud of this football team.”
The Rams used offense and defense to forge a 13-7 lead. Chris Rapp began the scoring on a 33-yard end around, and after Springtown answered to take a 7-6 lead, the Rams took back the lead on a heads-up defense play.
Mineral Wells came after Springtown sophomore quarterback Landry Turner on a pass play, and as the quarterback was sacked he lost the ball. Defensive lineman Elijuan Combs scooped up the loose pigskin and sprinted 21 yards for a touchdown with 10:15 left in the second quarter. Rapp’s PAT boot gave the Rams a 13-6 lead.
The Rams’ lead could have been larger. After Omery Trevino intercepted a pass in the end zone, the Rams drove to the SHS 9-yard line but missed a field goal.
The pick was Trevino’s team-leading third of the season. The MWHS defense set the tone early in the contest as the Rams’ first TD was set up by a Combs’ fumble recovery.
After each team traded a possession, Springtown came back and took a 14-13 lead on a two-yard touchdown run by Fisher Drewry, his second of the game. The first half ended with the visitors ahead by a point.
Each team traded punts to begin the third quarter. After Springtown gave up the ball, the Rams marched 58 yards on nine plays to regain the lead.
On second and goal from the SHS 4, MWHS quarterback Caleb Acosta called his own number and snuck four yards up the middle and across the goal line to give the Rams a 19-14 advantage as the lead changed hands for the fourth time. The Rams’ try for two points on the conversion failed, but with 5:22 left to play in the third quarter spirits were high on the home side of Ram Stadium.
However, it did not take long for Springtown to dowse the hosts’ spirit. The Porcupines returned the ensuing kickoff to the Rams’ 44, and on first down Turner threw a strike to receiver Dillon Springfield, who caught the ball in stride at the 20 and galloped into the end zone. Springfield did the honors on the extra-point kick as Springtown took a 21-19 lead – the fifth lead change of the contest.
The Rams’ offense could not keep up for the rest of the game. It could not take advantage of a pair of Rapp interceptions, and on two other occasions SHS forced the Rams to punt. SHS also forced the Rams over on downs on another series.
The visitors salted the contest by adding two touchdowns.
“These kids have given us great effort all year long,” Lawrence said. “Not just on defense, but on offense and special teams.
“Our kids play hard, and we may not come out on top but our opponents know they will have to play four quarters to beat us.
“I am proud of this entire football team. We played well, and the kids play as hard as they possibly could.”