Cougars Drop Road Game to Patroits
Rector's Cougars had their chances, but came up a bit short, losing 34-20, at Palestine-Wheatley in Friday's football opener for both teams.
The Cougars moved the ball well all night, but had trouble containing the speed of the Patriot running backs. Garrett Buck led the way offensively for Rector with 164 yards on 22 carries.
"We played extremely hard," said Rector coach David Hendrix, "but we had two costly turnovers down in the red zone." He said the Cougars had one play in which a touchdown should have been awarded but was not -- "we did get the ball across the line," the coach said.
Another factor in the game for the Cougars were several crucial penalties. "We've got to get some sense about us," the coach said.
"We've got to get smarter."
After the Patriots opened with a touchdown, Rector was set up with an interception by Danny Hager on the 27-yard line. Buck then scored on a 25-yard run with 10:42 left in the second quarter to knot the score at 6-6.
A Rector fumble led to the Patriots' second touchdown, which came with
2:23 left before intermission. Palestine-Wheatley led 14-6 at the break.
The Cougars had some success in the passing game in the second half as quarterback Lawson Ford connected on tosses to Buck, Bam Westbrook, Hager and Chase Jackson.
A pass to Hager moved the Cougars to the P-W two-yard line and Ford then went over for the score. The PAT failed and Rector was down 14-12 with
1:16 left in the third period.
The hosts then came back to score two touchdowns, the first with 1:16 left in the third period and the second with 8:51 showing in the fourth, to move ahead 28-12.
Buck responded for the Cougars with a five-yard TD run with 5:38 left and Hager converted the PAT to make the score 28-20.
P-W tacked on a late score to push the final to 34-20, the same score as when the two teams met on the Rector field last year.
Hager with 73 yards and Westbrook with 49 joined Buck as the Cougars moved the ball well on the ground.
Westbrook was outstanding from his linebacker position with nine tackles and one assist to lead the Cougar defense. Linebacker Chance Scott also had a good game with four tackles and three assists.
In looking at what will be the focus of practice this week, Hendrix said his team has to do much better in pass protection. "We broke down in that area," he said.
Rector suffered a tough setback as Ford injured his foot late in the game. Coach Hendrix said the senior signal-caller will be lost "for a week or two." Colby Stokes injured his hand in the game but is expected to see action this week.
Hendrix said sophomore Hunter McNeely will take over at quarterback this week. "He'll do fine," the coach said. "He just needs to guide the bus...one thing different this year is that we have a little depth."
The coach said the Patriots' speed definitely played a factor in the game. "A couple of times we let them get away from us and we were out of position.
"We really were physical in the game and we knocked their best running back out early," Hendrix said, adding that his replacement, however, may have been more effective.
The Cougars will play their home opener at 7 p.m. Friday when the Cedar Ridge Timberwolves arrive for a non-conference contest. Cedar Ridge notched an impressive victory last week over Class 4A Brookland.
"Their program has come a long way," Hendrix said of Class 3A Cedar Ridge. "They are a whole lot better than they were."