4-A Gatesville took advantage of the Llano Yellowjackets 4 turnovers and inability to get into the end zone to take the 2021 season opener 27-7 played in Gatesville.
The Jacket defense stopped the Hornets on the first drive of the game when sophomore Jordan Cornando recovered a fumble. Senior quarterback Maddox Green quickly completed a pass for 9 yards and a first down to junior Ross Prokop to the 28 yard line. Another completion by Maddox to junior Sam Sueltenfuss for 6 yards. But Llano ran out of downs.
The defense stepped up again. A sack by junior Jaxon Rhea cost the Hornets 10 yards. Sophomore Fitz Kennedy, junior Hayden Manahan and junior Caden Bauman were all in on tackles. Linebacker and junior Ricky De la torre defended well on a long Hornet pass completion, and the defense forced a punt. Llano was looking good at this point.
The quarter ended with no score. The Jackets recovered a fumble on the first play of the second quarter. A 4 yard run by Carson Kuykendall. And on third down, Carson broke for the longest play of the night with a 40 yard run up the middle, down to the 19 yard line of the Hornets. The next series of plays took the wind out of the Jackets. Two runs for lost yardage, and a 30 yard field goal try by Jackson Dillard was a little wide right.
Gatesville came right back down the field, and with 3:09 left in the half, kicked their own 21 yard field goal good for a 3-0 lead. Gatesville scored again with only :45 seconds left in the half. The 10-0 score at halftime looked do-able.
Llano came out strong in the second half. A pass completion from Maddox to Carson for 7 yards. Carson had runs of 7, 6, 3, 18 and 8 yards to set Llano up on the 5 yard line. Miguel Hernandez ran two times for 4 yards, and Carson ran it it from the one. Score was 10-7.
The teams exchanged interceptions on the next two series. Sophomore Briggs Green with help from a good pass rush from Jaxon, Brock Fly, Zach Watson, Isaiah Bush and Fitz pulled in the pass on the Jacket sidelines. The next set of downs by Llano saw an interception that produced another score for the Hornets, making the score 17-7. The good; 6 receivers: Sam (5), Ross (4), Carson (1), Coy Kelso (2), Jackson (2), and Miguel (2). Good Pass Rush: Llano had four sacks: one each by Jaxon, Fitz, Hayden and Briggs. The offensive line played near good. Jaxon Lange, Matthew Whitley, Daniel Sandoval, Ross Edwards, Dylan Kennedy and Hudson Godfrey. The passing by Maddox being 15 of 28 showed good protection.
The not so good: Four turnovers. 8 penalties. The fourth quarter proved fatal. 3 of 10 passing, and an interception. Only 15 yards rushing. Everyone must improve on these numbers.
Sonora visits Llano this week. The Broncos made the play-offs last season in 3-A, Div.II…and return 8 starters on offense and 8 on defense. Revenge will be on the Bronchos agenda. Llano will be righting the ship. Less penalties, less missed tackles, no drop passes, and blocking must improve. Llano had plays that looked like the “break-thru”….but then fizzled. 25 Freshman, sophomores, and juniors and this team. The Gatesville game was a good tough game by a pretty good football team. Our 7 seniors have been here before. Now their leadership is needed. And lead they will with a home victory over Sonora Friday night.