Cougars Pound Midland to End Drought
Generated by a huge 230-yard rushing performance from senior halfback Tommy Stokes, the long football losing streak for the Rector Cougars is over.
The Cougars put together a strong outing on both sides of the ball to manhandle the Midland Mustangs, 41-6, in a conference contest Friday night for the season finale at Temerian Field.
The last victory for Rector in high school football came Sept. 25, 2009, when the Cougars defeated Palestine-Wheatley, 22-20. The Cougars lost their final five games of that campaign and then went four straight seasons without fielding a varsity team. Official conference action got
started again in 2014 and the Cougars posted 0-9 and 0-10 seasons before losing their first seven games this year, resulting in Friday's win halting a 32-game losing streak.
"It's been a long time," said Rector coach David Hendrix, who has worked hard in recreating the program at his alma mater. "It was a big relief for these kids."
Hendrix said a lot of hard work and sacrifice has gone into getting the RHS program back on track. "I'm so proud of the seniors of the last two years," he said. "They knew it wasn't going to be easy, but they gave everything they had to get us to where we are. They took some beatings, but they hung in there. None of this, including the great season we had in junior high, would have been possible without them."
Rector broke open a relatively-close contest with a dominating three-touchdown performance in the second half to win going away.
The game opened on a wacky note, with the two teams losing a combined five fumbles in the first quarter, three by the Mustangs and two by the Cougars.
Garrett Groves recovered the first Mustang fumble and the Cougars then drove 24 yards in five plays for their first score. The touchdown came on a seven-yard run around right end by Stokes, who then kicked the PAT for a 7-0 Rector advantage with 8:53 showing in the first quarter.
Both teams then lost fumbles on their next two possessions.
Following a Midland punt midway through the second quarter, the Cougars rolled to their second touchdown on a nine-play drive that covered 67 yards. Halfback Andrew Carter had a couple of nice runs on the drive and then carried it in from 10 yards out. Stokes' PAT attempt failed and it was 13-0 with 3:44 left in the first half.
Midland then went on their own nine-play scoring drive, covering 72 yards. A face mask penalty and an offside assessment against the Cougars aided the Mustang effort. The touchdown came on a 20-yard pass from Bobby Montgomery to Tristan May with only 54 seconds showing. The PAT run by Austin McAdams failed and the score stood at 13-6.
Rector responded with a crucial touchdown right before the half. Midland's onside kick failed and Rector took over at the Mustang 45. Freshman quarterback Parker Bucy, who saw considerable action in the game, threw an incomplete pass before the Cougars were penalized five yards for motion on second down.
Stokes then burst free over left tackle for 47 yards to the Midland three-yard line. Fullback Chance Scott scored on the next play on a run up the middle. The PAT run failed and the Cougars went into intermission with a 19-6 advantage.
Midland's first possession of the second half did not yield a first down and the Cougars took over at the Mustang 48. Stokes broke free over right tackle on first down and cruised to the end zone. Bucy hit Conly Lockhart for the PAT pass and Rector held a 27-6 lead with 6:44 remaining in the third quarter.
The Mustangs threatened midway through the final quarter before the Cougar defense came through with three lost-yardage plays to result in a change of possession at the 30-yard line.
The Cougars went 70 yards to score, aided by a personal foul penalty on the Mustangs.
The score came on Stokes' third touchdown of the night, this time on a bruising 30-yard run in which he broke several tackles. The PAT failed and Rector led 33-6 with 6:15 left to play.
Rector's final touchdown came on an exciting 45-yard fumble return by linebacker Max Ford, one of several freshmen that coach Hendrix moved up from the undefeated junior high team. Scott plowed over for the PAT, setting the final score at 41-6 with 3:45 showing.
Stokes amassed his 230 yards on 18 carries. Carter and Scott also had good nights rushing with 72 and 43 yards respectively. The Cougars ended with 339 yards rushing. Their only pass attempt (other than the PAT) was incomplete. The Cougars had 15 first downs to 11 for the Mustangs.
Midland had 207 yards of total offense, 160 on the ground and 47 through the air.
Montgomery led Mustang rushers with 75 yards, but it took him 29 attempts to accomplish it against a stingy Rector defense. The Cougars forced 10 loss-of-yardage plays against the Mustangs. Montgomery hit three of eight passes for 47 yards.
Rector was penalized eight times for 60 yards and the visitors had four penalties for 35 yards. Midland lost fumbles to three for Rector.
Looking to keys to the win, Hendrix said "our intensity was a lot better than it has been. We came out playing to win."
Hendrix praised the strong running of Stokes in his final game as a Cougar. "He ran really hard, but he also got some great blocking by his other backs and the line. It was the best blocking we've had this year, by far.
"I thought we played pretty well defensively, except for one miscue in the secondary. We were very physical and that showed up as the game went along. We eventually took the life out of them."
Looking at the season as a whole, Hendrix said the team "fell into the trap of thinking here we go again" in several of the early losses.
"At the end of the year we had some kids come in and help spark us and move us in the right direction. The whole atmosphere was different the last two games and we played the best we had all year."
Concerning the future of the Rector program, the coach said, "we may not have turned the corner yet, but we are right there."
Hendrix will expect 25-30 players on the team next year, with good balance in all three classes. "We'll be a little young next year, especially in the backfield, but we will be really competitive. Rector football is alive and well."
The historic Rector win was the final game for four seniors -- Tommy Stokes, Chance Scott, Lonnie Yancey and Michael Loveless.