The home field of the Randolph Ro Hawks proved plenty challenging Friday night as the Llano Yellowjackets came home with a very hard fought 21-14 victory. Llano scored the winning points with but :53 seconds left in the game, and still had to fight off a determined team that still has play off asperations of its own. Llano is now 7-0, while Randolph is a solid 5-2 for the season.
It was a tough game from the beginning when Llano on its first possession took the kick-off and drove down to the 34 yard line before running out of downs. The 11 play drive saw junior quarterback Briggs Green complete four passes to four different receivers. Parker, Parrish, Ross Prokop, Jackson Dillard and Coy Kelso hauled in passes. Senior Carson Kuykendall carried much of the running game load, with another game over 150 yards, and Jackson had one run for 16 yards.
Maybe the surprise was the Ro Hawks took the ball and went 85 yards in four plays. The Ro Hawk junior quarterback, Aaron Davis carried the final 77 yards on two carries for the TD and for the first time this season, Llano was behind in a football game, 7-0.
Llano began with the ball on the 36 yard line at the end of the first quarter. Briggs, and Carson each carried the ball. On the first play of the second quarter, Briggs hit Coy for a key third down conversion for 26 yards. Carson then scored from 7 yards out and tied the game with Bryce Mize’s extra point.
An exchange of possessions put Llano on the 40 yard line, but a fumble gave Randolph the ball, and three plays later they scored and went up 14-7. The Jackets wasted no time in getting back into the game. 11 yards on two carries by Carson, and then Briggs found senior Sam Sueltenfuss for 41 yards and a touchdown. Bryce tied the game 14-14 with his kick. Llano had been forced to punt two times in the half. The Jacket defense forced Randolph to punt 3 times.
The Jacket defense was on the field most of the third quarter. Seniors Hayden Manahan and Ricky De La Torre along with Jaxon Rhea played outstanding on defense. Randolph ran 15 plays in the third quarter, and ended up with 69 total yards. A Llano 15 yard penalty gave the Ro Hawks one of their first downs, and a Llano fumble contributed to the Jackets only running 8 plays in the quarter.
The fourth quarter was the opposite. Llano settled down and controlled the football. Strong offensive line play by seniors Ross Edwards, Jaxon Lange, and Hudson Godfrey. Llano ran the ball 17 plays. but with less than a minute to play and score tied, Briggs hit senior Jackson Dillard in full stride crossing the middle for a huge 31 yard play and a first down on the 10 yard line. Carson took it in a the next play over blocks from Brannen Green, Dylan Kennedy and Daniel Sandoval. Llano lead with :53 seconds left in the game. Still not over with.
Randolph began with the ball on the 34 yard line. First, Ricky broke up a screen pass for a yard lose. Knowing the Ro Hawks would have to pass deep, the Jackets braced . I was watching Davis, the quarterback and he rolled out to his left. I had seen the wide receiver on his left take off across the field, with Llano’s cornerback, senior Ulisses Martinez right on his heels. But out of the corner of my eye, I could see the far side wide receiver crossing from right to left, with senior Caden Bauman and junior safety Braeden Hatfield chasing. My hear sank. I knew he likely would be open. Coming across into the area of the field where his teammate had vacated. But as Davis threw the football, and I turned my head, out of no where, Ulisses was there, flying in front of the football for the Jacket interception and saving the game. I have never asked, but I can only assume, Ulisses too had to have seen the streaking receiver going the opposite direction of where he had been chasing. Ulisses had to have stopped immediately and sprinted after the lone receiver. He got there before Caden and Braeden and made the interception.
Talking to several fans, many felt this type of tough game was needed at this time Llano played hard, tough and smart when it had to. Maybe not playing its best game, Llano still found a way to win. And you talk about these 27 seniors, it takes a team. Everyone contributed in some way. Everyone.
It will take everyone this week against a surprise and offensive minded team. The beat down of Blanco by Marion this past Friday night raised eye brows. Scoring 48 on Blanco really gives concern about Marion. Marion is now 5-2, and averaging over 30 points a game. It’s defense is allowing less than Llano, 12.4 points per game. This Marion game will test Llano’s mettle. Llano can start now getting ready for the play offs by improving every week forward.
The Jackets had 6 penalties that all hurt against Randolph. And the two turnovers gave the Ro Hawks more hope. That extra effort by Llano, and the team gang tackling kept Llano in the game. I saw great effort out of Jackson Hoot, Brock Fly, Frank Machuga, and Cole Franklin. Isaiah Bush and Fitz Kennedy had good games. Those extra efforts are difference makers. This week, Llano will need every bit of those kind of efforts. The Jackets will be going after consecutive win # 18 on its home field . Llano by 21.