Where to start? The Jackets decided to make the price of a football ticket well worth the trip. Over 700 yards of offense by the Jackets. I’ve found 7 new names & numbers that will go into the record books. But that is not the real story here. The Jackets found themselves ahead at half-time, 24-21. This against the highest scoring offense in our district. Salado’s quarterback has eye popping stats, and he did not let the visitors down with his offense. Cole Brentham’s 370 yards passing in a losing cause against the Jackets may be a record, but senior Preston Rabb’s 369 yards passing is a Yellowjacket single game record, passing greats Brian Hill, Jason Smith and Brian Edwards.
But after the kick-off in the third quarter, Salado scored on three plays to take the lead 28-24. Then to add insult to the guest, backed up on their on two yardline, Brentham hit speedy Fabian Sauceda for 98 yards and a 35-24 led! Neither team was finished. The story is that this ignited a fire in the Jackets. Llano came back, highlighted with TD passes Fro Rabb to senior Justin Saverance for 53 yards, and 50 yards to Sophomore Justin Wyatt to take the lead 38 to 35 on the next two Jacket possessions.
What was curious to me is that Salado went to their run offense. In the fourth quarter, after Llano had fumbled, Salado led 47 to 38! The Eagles drove the football 13 plays, 10 running plays and scored again. Now, with most of the quarter gone due to the long drive, Llano was looking at a 47-38 score with only 5:43 left in the game. 9 points down. Back came Llano, and on the fifth play, Rabb hit Wyatt again for a 34 yard strike. Mr. Automatic, John McKay kicked his 6th extra point of the night, and school record 24th in a row. The score was 47-45, Salado’as ahead, with 4:33 left in the game. If history tells you much, it would tell you that Salado would run the clock out with another steady drive of running plays, just like their last time consuming drive of 75 yards. No, Salado went back to their passing game, and Llano held. Pressure from Travis Lawrence, Zach Berry, Jordan Johnson, and Cody Lang kept Brentham from completing a pass.
Llano took the punt and started on the 40 yardline. 22 yards from Rabb to Conner Chauncy, 14 more to Saverance, and 20 more to Wyatt down to the 14 yardline. The idea was to let McKay do his work with a field goal (he already had hit a 23 yarder in the first quarter), get the game into overtime, and win there. But lining up for the field goal, Salado jumped offsides two plays in a row, giving the Jackets a first down on the four yardline. This was too tempting for Llano Coaches,…give the ball to the second fastest player on the field, senior Sterling Jameson to the corner, and just as Sterling was to score, three Eagles hit him, and the ball was on the ground. Sophomore Matt Center, while still counting his change, picked the ball up and stepped into into the end zone.
The come from behind 51 to 49 win places Llano in the playoffs against Wimberley, Friday night in Round Rock. I plan on writing a blog by Thursday with more info on the playoff game. So, today, I’ll regress to the Jacket’s of today. We can’t stay too long on this subject. But, Salado was a very good offensive football team, playing hard with every team in our District. I told one of the Salado Coaches after the game how good and impressed I was with their talent. I made sure their quarterback was a senior, and he confirmed that! He wished Llano good luck in the playoffs, and hoped that Rabb and Saverance were well for Wimberley. He knew they were both seniors. The Jacket seniors sparked this surge to the playoffs. It is so nice when a Vance Bauer, or Chauncy, Ryan Williams, Kevin Vassar ,Cole Barrett, or Rhett Brooks, (104 yards rushing on 12 carries) or Wyatt, or Center, or Clay Tarter, or Wes Haverlah step up, because these talented underclassmen are gravy to a Coach. But you must have the Lawrences, Johnsons, and Hills play with maturity of a senior. Where would Llano be this season without Matt Ratliff ( playing both ways much of the time), Kenneth Smith, Sterling, Zach, Justin, or McKay? All stepped up their game where they were difference makers. The much maligned secondary still had to have Raven Herron, Michael Rusche (an interception against Salado), and Jordan Cavness (great punter). Taylor Osbourn was nominated by me at one point in the game when he made an outstanding tackle on the kickoff coverage, for defensive player of the game. He, like Ian Mayne before him, and sophomore Storey Tatsch, and Clay Tarter do hustle on special teams.
I’ve spent hours this weekend going back looking for trivia. Records to make sure no has been slighted. With Wyatt, Rabb, Saverance, Yellowjacket Offense, McKay, & Cavness all getting mention in new stats. If they are single game stats, I may place them in the record book this week. If totals run into career stats (Rabb), I will wait until all games are over. But, I do need help. Justin Saverance had a wonderful game. He had 136 yards rushing on 14 carries, and caught four passes for 113 yards. We do not have a cataory for individuals that may have had over 100 yards in receivng and rushing in one game. I went back to 1977-79 to see if Johnny Baskin had ever accomplished such a feat. Could not find it. Kevin Fain never did. Michael White didn’t, nor Will Carpenter. So many Llano greats. Saverance may be only one. Help me out if you remember such a game by a former Jacket. And from here, I’ll back here Wednesday or Thursday