Cougars Can't Overcome Slow Start
A rough first half hurt the Cougars in junior varsity football action with Midland Tuesday, Sept. 17. Rector fell behind 24-8 at intermission and would ultimately succumb to the visiting Mustangs, 30-24.
The Cougars fumbled the ball away on the snap during the first play of two of their initial three possessions of the contest, with Midland capitalizing for touchdowns following each turnover.
Rector trailed 8-0 after their first turnover, but found their way back into the contest to tie the game. With no special teams being played, each team started with the ball at their own 30-yard-line following touchdowns and intermission. Kyle Britt and Garrett Buck chewed up yards on the ground for the Cougars in the first drive. When Rector ran into trouble, facing a fourth and eight near midfield, quarterback Sam Westbrook connected with a diving Buck on a 25-yard pass to bring the Cougars to the Midland 20. Buck carried the ball down to the one-yard-line. Britt pounded the ball in for the touchdown with 2:09 left in the frame. Buck carried in the conversion, tying the game at 8-8.
Midland responded with another scoring drive early in the second quarter on a five-yard keeper from quarterback Austin Passmore. The conversion was successful, with the guests going ahead, 16-8.
Midland got the ball back after Rector went one-and-out with a fumble on their third possession. The Mustangs galloped to a 24-8 advantage with 3:09 left in the first half following a three-yard touchdown carry and successful try for two.
Midland struck again to start the second half, capping their opening drive with a 30-yard touchdown run by Mustang Barrett Morgan. The try for two was denied.
The Cougars followed with a one-play drive, this time with a positive result. Westbrook hit a running Buck in stride for a dazzling 70-yard touchdown strike with 6:12 left in the third frame. Westbrook ran in the conversion, bringing Rector within two touchdowns, 30-16.
The Rector faithful came to their feet in the final minute of the contest, cheering wildly for big Huston Highfill's 65-yard fumble recovery and return for the touchdown. The sophomore lineman showed the agility of a back on the play, scooping up the ball and heading downfield as if it was second nature. The touchdown came with 42 seconds remaining in the contest. Buck ran in the conversion to cut the deficit to six points, 30-24.
Midland took a knee to burn out the remainder of the clock.
Rector head coach Lewis Earnest felt like the Cougars let the game get away from them.
"Those snaps killed us," Earnest said after the game. "We've not had a bad snap in practice or a game all year. We get out here tonight and fumble away the ball twice in the first quarter. That was the difference in the game. We came away with nothing there and they scored both times (we fumbled early). We have to limit turnovers."
Despite the early miscues, the Cougars held on and kept fighting the entire contest.
"The way we played hard and fought back, that makes me proud of them," Earnest said. "I thought we were able to move the ball pretty well on offense, for the most part. We gave up too much on the defensive side, but Midland deserves the credit for that. They did a good job and have a good quarterback (Passmore)."
The Cougars(2-1) are slated to host Cedar Ridge beginning at 7 p.m. Sept. 30 in Rector.