• November 30, 2020

HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Rankin overcomes mistakes to defeat Balmorhea - Odessa American: Oavarsity

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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Rankin overcomes mistakes to defeat Balmorhea

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Posted: Saturday, August 29, 2020 12:06 am

BALMORHEA For the quarter, just about everything that could have gone wrong did for the Rankin football team.

In the end, the Red Devils found a way to overcome those mistakes.

After turning the ball over four times and watching host Balmorhea race out to a three-score lead, Rankin raced back over the final three quarters and then held on for a 38-36 victory Friday at Bear Stadium.

The Red Devils (1-0) prevailed over the Bears (0-1) in a battle of the top-ranked Class 1A teams in the state in their respective divisions.

The Red Devils were without De’Shon Goodley, who was injured and did not make the trip. 

“I told them all week that we’re going to make mistakes and you just have to fight through adversity and keep your head down and keep working,” Rankin head coach Garret Avalos said.

For Balmorhea head coach Vance Jones, he called Friday’s tilt one of the best he’s been a part off over his 50 years of coaching.

“I am so proud of the way they stood up and played,” Balmorhea head coach Vance Jones said. “I’ve been in this business for 50 years and this has to be one of the greatest games I’ve been part of.”

Rankin dug itself into an early hole with the turnovers and Balmorhea scored on its opening drive with a 44-yard pass from Xavier Mendoza to Gary Abraham to take an early 8-0 lead.

Balmorhea quickly got the ball back in Red Devil territory after sophomore Tomas Contreras intercepted a Rankin pass to set up a field goal to go up 12-0.

The Red Devils had an answer on special teams as Justin Rodriguez returned the kickoff 71 yards for a score to get on the board. Rodriguez also added 61 yards rushing in the team’s win.

“I think that really helped us,” Rodriguez said “I was just trying to help my team and set a tone for us and just keep pushing against a top team like Balmorhea.”

The tide turned back in favor of Balmorhea as the Bears’ next two scores came on defense. The first was a 55-yard interception return by Dylan Aguirre; the other a Shawn Orozco fumble recovery in the end zone.

Rankin’s fortunes began to swing late in the after a bad snap by Balmorhea was recovered in the end zone for a safety.

Neither offense was able to do much for most of the second quarter until Rankin’s Kalob Aguero found Matthew Gonzales in the end zone for a score with 2:37 left before halftime.

The Red Devils then got a defensive score of their own on Balmorhea’s ensuing possession with a Hayden Loftin fumble recovery a minute later.

Rankin still trailed, 28-24, at halftime. That said, Avalos felt the game had swung in his team’s favor.

“I felt like we started to eliminate the turnovers in the second half and getting those scores all before halftime swung the momentum for us.”

The Red Devils got another special teams boost to open the second half thanks to Carlos Cura’s 50-yard kickoff return for a score to take the lead for the first time.

The defenses for both teams regained control until Rankin found one last offensive score it needed as TJ Templeton connected with Benjamin Rios on a 20-yard strike with 7:10 to go.

Balmorhea responded with an 18-yard run by Aguirre with five minutes remaining and had a chance to for the win after stopping Rankin on fourth down on the ensuing possession.

The Red Devils held for one last time and closed out a resilient season-opening victory.

“Balmorhea came out and played a heck of a game,” Avalos said. “They exposed us in some areas and we’re going to break down the film and do better.

“I’m really proud of our kids and their kids. It was just a classic six-man game.”


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