If getting behind 21-7 was not bad enough, the bad injury to junior wide out Anthony Watson, and 5 penalties for 55 yards, Llano’s rhythm seemed off. Oh no, another bad game in Hondo, as if that has never happened before. It was a perfect setting for the Jackets to call it a night by halftime.
But that is not what happened. Junior quarterback Cade Fly returned from injury, yet I worried that he might break. Cade sat in the pocket all night long. Moved around very little. Still hit 22 of 34 passes, two TD passes, for 277 yards. Let’s give Cade credit for his discipline. Let’s give the offensive line credit for their best game as a unit. It had to be. Cade’s running game taken from him and limited movement meant the Jacket lineman had to block, stay with their blocks, and hope Cade’s arm strength could prevail. 6 receivers caught passes.
Llano could have let up some. But at the end of the second quarter, just before half, Diego Garcia kicked a 23 yard field goal with :16 seconds left. Score 21-10. Maybe Diego’s kick was the lift. But Llano played its best 3rd quarter in years. Llano took the kick-off and Aaron Brown returned it 23 yards to the 35 yard line. Cade threw to Aaron for 5. Junior Mason Brooks ran for 10. Then 4 more. Aaron another 5 yarder. Mr. Automatic, Josh Soliz ran for 7 more and a first down. Ben Walling carried. And on second down and 12, Cade hit junior Brooks Keele for 36 yards and the TD. Score 21-16. Extra point was blocked.
Time for the defense to show off. Hondo ran three running plays. Made 7 yards. punted. That was the last time in the third quarter the Owls offense would be on the field. Jacket defense was relentless. Daniel Sparks, Josh Soliz, and Ray Dixon were just wonderful. Monsters in the trenches. Drew Cooper, Aaron, Ian Fletcher, Dalton Bauman, Nolan Keller, Ethan Tisdale and Quint Percelli all had great games. Presley Lynch plays hard all the time. Great effort. All stayed focused is the best way I can describe what I saw. I think, seniors Gage Cox and Tyler Gann had their best games. Hondo was only 5 of 11 passing for 74 yards. Junior Christian Kirby at cornerback had a good game. Llano outscored Hondo 20-3 in the second half.
I am glad you did not tell me before the game that Llano would allow a kick off to be returned for a TD. Or Hondo would block an Austin Humphrey punt to be blocked and run in for a TD. Or Llano would have two Garcia extra points blocked. Or Llano would have 9 penalties for 90 yards. Glad you didn’t tell me that before the game.
But Llano did not allow any of those things stop them from keeping their focus. Llano knew it had to win this game. The seniors were upset on the sidelines. Not “drama upset”. Just mad. There are times in lives of all that bad things happen, and things go south. The Jackets in Hondo refused to allow those things to take the stage. Llano’s character….true character surfaced, and barred down harder, took fate into their own hands and won the football game. Llano took the lead with 11:32 in the fourth quarter 30-21 and never let go. It’s called character.
I will list the offensive lineman, and tight ends. I hope to not miss any of you. Let me know if I do. You all need to be recognized. All of us fans love you as long as we do not hear from you. Get a holding call and we know then who to be mad at. Being an unknown offensive lineman is tough work. Thank you Luke Williams, Daniel Sparks, Ray Dixon, Austin Humphrey, Dalton Bauman, Hayden Cowert, Tyler Thompson, Lane Ward, Cameron Johnson, Tyler Lyndell, Dakota Trull, Hayden Godfrey (one catch, 13 yards) and Brooks Keele(4 catches 71 yards and a TD).
The Jacket offense had 455 yards total. Hard running from Mason Brooks (17-93 yards), Josh ( 9-38 yards), and Walling (14-46 yards). Mason Greenwood was not a full speed. Maybe with two more week to get rest, he too can get back to contributing.
Cade had 134 yards passing in the third quarter. Pretty good. But remember in 2002, against Smithville, quarterback Jason Smith threw for 153 yards in the first quarter.
Bandera has had a rough year. Llano is ahead in the series 14-7. Llano has won 6 of the last 8. But do not let that fool you. As I said last year, they are good when least expected. Llano last season, clearly a better team, dodged a bullet in winning only 22-13….. In 2002 Bandera was entering the last game of the season…winner of the game would secure the last spot for the playoffs. Many recent great Jacket athletes ( if you call 15 years recent)…record breaking 800 meter relay team…Hunter Ratliff, Jason Smith, Michael White (Just look at the school record book), Nick Moratori, Jerrod Virdell. Bandera won 39-32 in the last moments. Bandera went on to win the State Championship. Bandera has history. They always play hard.
OK…this is the last point to make. The Yellow Jackets have had our new playing field surface for two seasons. We have only two wins on the home field. We beat Hondo last year. We beat Eastside this season on Homecoming. These seniors need to help start a better tradition. WE need to make Jacket Stadium a hard place for visiting teams to come play. It starts Friday night. Jackets up record to 5-5. Llano makes the state play offs. And Open week the following week allows Llano to get well. It begins Friday night.