By George Slaughter
The game was tied at 7 in the third quarter, and the Rams were driving. Junior quarterback Donte Jones went around the left side and fumbled the ball. Yet the ball bounced off the turf, back into his hands, and Jones went in for a 26-yard touchdown run.
“That was huge,” Rams coach Mike Rabe said. “We needed that right there. It started some momentum for us.”
The win was not the prettiest from the Rams’ perspective. Jones’s fumble was one of seven—five lost—by the Rams on a breezy, chilly, and damp evening.
“We’ve been real solid on ball control,” Rabe said. “It was shocking to see that tonight.”
The win was not necessarily a clean one, either, as the Rams were penalized 10 times for 80 yards. Meanwhile, the Broncos were penalized 10 times for 60 yards. Perhaps the jitters of being in the playoffs after such a long drought for the program had something to do with it, also. Rabe said players nerves weren’t a factor at the start of the game. Things changed in the heat of competition, however.
“You could definitely see the jitters late in the football game,” Rabe said. “It was very uncharacteristic of our football team to look like that late in the football game. They did what they had to do to win.”
But for the Rams, their first playoff victory since 1997 was sweet. The Rams are now 9-2. The Broncos, making their first playoff appearance since 2016, end their season with an 8-3 record.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Broncos scored on the first play of the second quarter, on a 2-yard run by sophomore running back Donovan Nixon.
The Rams responded with a 68-yard scoring drive, capping it off with a 24-yard pass from senior quarterback John Zolacha to junior wide receiver with 6:21 in the first half. Alejandro Gorostieta’s extra point tied the game. The score held until Jones’s touchdown.
Bush senior linebacker James Milo recovered a Mayde Creek fumble in the end zone to bring the Broncos back into the game with 5:08 in the third quarter. But on the next drive, the Rams took the lead for good on a one-yard run by Jones.
Mayde Creek’s final touchdown of the evening came on a 12-yard run by junior running back Julius Loughridge. When Jones scored on his fumble-recovery play, he enjoyed some distance from the nearest defenders. Loughridge, by contrast, was both surrounded and in the grasp of several tacklers. But he kept moving his legs, pressing forward, and took defenders into the end zone with him in an impressive display of heart and persistence. Loughridge finished with 193 yards on 26 carries for the night.
Bush got back into the game late in the fourth quarter, when Michael Adeyeba completed a 24-yard scoring pass to junior wide receiver Jalen Witherspoon with 2:30 remaining. The Broncos had another possession to score and potentially take the lead, but junior defensive back Joseph Kinyock intercepted the ball at the Rams 3 and Mayde Creek was able to run out the clock.
The Rams return to action next week against Cypress Creek, who defeated Westside 41-21 Friday.
Tompkins 35, Fort Bend Travis 28
The Falcons, the District 19-6A runner-up, improve to 10-1. The Tigers, the District 20-6A champions, finish their season at 10-1.
Tompkins will next play the winner of the Lamar-Cypress Falls game, which is set for Friday night at Delmar Stadium.