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In battle of big Cats, Cougars rush past Wildcats 43-36

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    Linebacker Willie Simmons (#15) sacks a Cougar quarterback. Photos by Ron Ramirez
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    Keaton Grady (#3) makes good yardage on a kickoff return.
  • Article Image Alt Text
    Linebacker Braylon Owens (#42) zeros in on a Connally ball handler.

I saw him during warmups before the game. This young man stood out. Demitrus Gardner. His arms. His legs. Unfortunately, he was #20 in green and playing for Connally. Many knew he had averaged almost 200 yards rushing per game, and he proved to be all that and a bag of chips against Elgin.

On a rare Thursday night contest, Elgin (1-5) travelled to Pfield Stadium to take on a Pflugerville Connally Cougar team looking for their first win of the season. It was my first time to see the Pfield, where all the Pflugerville high schools play, and it is certainly a beautiful place for high school football.

The game started well, as Elgin forced a Connally punt, then drove 90 yards with strong running from Lyndon Rangel and quarterback Peter McFarlin and a nice catch and run by Trevor Kirgan. McFarlin finished the drive on a 5-yard scamper, and a successful point after try by kicker Paden Maass. Elgin 7-0 with three minutes left in the opening period.

Connally started their drive, and with 10 minutes left in quarter 2, Gardner, ran in for his first of five touchdowns against Elgin, 7-7 tie. The Cougars held Elgin, and their drive was culminated by—you guessed it—#20 in green, making it 7-14 Connally with four minutes until half time.

After a nice kick-off return by Keaton Grady, Connally intercepted an Elgin pass and on the ensuing drive, on fourth down, the Cougars ran a beautiful “hook and ladder” play where the quarterback threw a short pass to his receiver, who pivoted and lateraled the ball to a trailing Connally player, once more, #20 Gardner, who ran the ball in 30 yards for his third touchdown of the game. The score was 7-21 Cougars with less than two minutes left in quarter 2.

Elgin wasted no time in answering, with McFarlin and Rangel running hard down field, and culminating in a four-yard run by McFarlin to make the score 14-21 after a good kick by Maass with only 39 seconds left until halftime. You would think that’s how the score would end, but the Cougars fast played themselves into another score, and Gardner’s fourth touchdown of the night, 14-28 Connally at halftime.

The Wildcats got the ball first in the third quarter, driving the ball for eight minutes and ending with a 14-yard McFarlin score, Maass good on extra point, leaving the score 21-28 Connally. The Cougars answered with their own touchdown run by Gardner (touchdown number five), and the third quarter ended with a score of 21-35 Connally.

The final period saw Elgin’s passing attack successful with a 35-yard touchdown pass from McFarlin to I’som again, bringing the score after the kick by Maass to 28-35 Connally. After the Cougars drove deep into Wildcat territory, they were stopped on fourth down and one yard to go by a strong Wildcat defensive stop. Elgin took over and drove the length of the field with good running by Rangel and McFarlin and a huge 65-yard touchdown pass reception by I’som. After a Connally penalty, Elgin Coach Jens Anderson decided to go for a two point try, which McFarlin made on a keeper, putting the Wildcats in the lead 36-35 in this most exciting contest, with less than three minutes until the end of the game.

It would be up to Elgin to stop Connally on the ensuing drive. But the Cougars used a nice balance of Gardner running the ball and quick passes to their receivers, and with 30 seconds left in the game, they were able to get into the Wildcat endzone on a short pass. Their two-point conversion was good, making the final score 43-36 Connally.

Another exciting, evenly-matched game, but with very familiar results. McFarlin had his best passing game, completing 9-14 passes for 242 yards. He scored three rushing touchdowns as well as throwing for two more. Rangel had a solid 84 yards rushing for the night. I’som had a monster night with eight catches for 202 yards and two scores. Maas was solid with point after attempts and Grady had a good night punting, averaging 45 yards per kick. But everyone knew that Connally was going to feed their running back Gardner, and they did. As Coach Anderson stated, they got some good hits on Gardner, but he was able to break tackles to keep the Cougar drives alive. Anderson also felt losing the turnover battle was the turning point in the game.

Elgin junior varsity won their contest over Connally 22-20.

The Wildcats will make a long trek to Brenham on Friday evening, November 13 to take on a strong Cub team, currently in second place in the district and then finish out the season at home on Friday, November 20 against the Bears of Bastrop. Elgin is fighting for the fourth playoff spot in district standings, so they are in a must-win situation for the rest of the year.

District 13 5A Standings Overall District
Leander Rouse 6-1 5-0
Brenham 4-2 4-1
Georgetown East View 4-3 4-1
Leander Glenn 3-4 2-3
Cedar Creek 2-5 2-3
Elgin 1-5 1-4
Pflugerville Connally 1-6 1-4
Bastrop 2-5 1-4