GORDON–Gordon’s battle against Waco Christian at the second annual Kick-Off Classic in Gorman was like a heavyweight title fight with the Longhorns going for body blows and the Bulldogs looking for a knockout punch.
The Longhorns tripped over their shoelaces down the stretch fumbling away a chance at victory with the score 44-41. With just 2:28 left on the clock the Bulldogs pounded out a first down and ran out the last few ticks.
“When we are fresh, our first group is rocking and a rolling,” coach Mike Reed said. “We did a great job with smoke-and-mirror plays, but we did not do a good job when it came time to go mustache-on-mustache.”
Gordon took the early lead 7-0 when Hoss Rouse scored on a nine-yard run and Brandon Mahan connected with Morgan Mahan on the extra point pass. Rouse paced the Longhorn’s rushing attack in the first half with 12 carries for 143 yards.
Waco responded on their next possession as quarterback Solomon Harvey snuck in from 12 yards out and after a slow first quarter, the shootout was on.
Rouse galloped 35 yards scoring midway through the second quarter to lead 13-6, and it took just two plays for the Bulldogs to tack on their second score on a 35-yard pass from Harvey to an outstretched Dremon Bible. The Bulldogs missed this second extra-point attempt in a row to trail 13-12.
Capturing an onside kick, Waco wasted little time and scored in seven seconds to take their first lead of the game,18-13, when Bible and Harvey hooked up on a 32-yard score.
Tyler Wyatt’s pass to Brandon Mahan wrestled the lead back in favor of the Longhorns and Gordon gave itself two-touchdown advantage when Rouse scored on a two-yard run.
Headed into the halftime locker room the Longhorns had a 27-18 advantage, but the heat of the summer afternoon and a lack of depth began to show up.
A third-quarter interception and return of 30 yards by Charles Mowles set up a one-yard scoring run by Rouse and Gordon had a 35-18 lead. The heat began to take its toll as Gordon players began cramping up and that led to mental mistakes on both sides of the ball and Waco went for the juggler with a big-play offense.
Back-to-back scores of 59 (Bible) and 55 (John Fomba) yards on passing plays tightened up the score with the Longhorns clinging to a 35-31 lead. Gordon’s missed assignments on offense handed the ball back to the Bulldogs who rattled off two more scores.
Bible’s six-yard run and Reggie William’s one-yard plunge pushed the Bulldogs on top 44-35 and a crucial two-score lead with 7:24 remaining in play.
Brandon Mahan found Wyatt for a 15-yard score to pull to within three points 44-41 and the Longhorns defense held the Bulldogs in check, giving Gordon an opportunity that was fumbled away at Waco’s nine-yard line.
“We were not consistent with our blocking,” Reed said. “If you go back and look at our track success you can see we have speed. What we don’t have is the ability to have successful plays where we miss blocks.”
The mustache-on-mustache running game Reed wants was there early on, and finding the right rotation to keep his team fresh will be his most significant task. The Longhorns ran for 260 yards with Rouse gaining the majority of the yards with 191.
Gordon will look for its first win of the year next week when it the road again to take on Newcastle in a 7:30 p.m. game Sept. 9.