Have you heard the one about how I went to a six-man football game and a track meet broke out? Well, that really happened this past Friday when two of the best teams in the state met in Leakey.
In the end, No. 4 Rankin survived a thriller on the road to then-No. 9 Leakey, 98-97, in one what has to be considered the game of the year so far. In fact, the game was the first time in at least 30 years that a game was decided by a single point when two six-man teams both scored over 90 points.
Both head coached agreed.
“I have never been a part of a game like that,” exclaimed Rankin head coach Garret Avalos. “I was expecting a good game, but not anything like that.”
Leakey head coach Shannon Williams added, “It was a game for the ages! It was just crazy.”
The first quarter alone saw a combined 56 points put on the board by the teams.
Leakey came out of the chute firing on all pistons and raced out to a quick 20-6 lead on the favored Red Devils.
“We knew they were good,” said Avalos, “but they have a lot more speed than it appeared on film.”
Of course, this game wasn’t going to have one team pull away and Rankin responded with three-straight scores to take a ten-point lead, 30-20. Leakey answers and the first quarter ends at 30-26.
At this point, both teams have scored four times, however, Rankin’s David Alvarado had made three-of-four point-after attempts, while Leakey has missed three-of-four, explaining the four-point difference and foreshadowing things to come.
Nothing really changes for the second quarter, as the teams essential exchange scores. This time the teams combine for 64 points in the stanza.
Leakey does score five times, while holding the Red Devils to four touchdowns. However, Leakey’s kicking problems continue, as they miss four-of-five attempts. So, despite scoring one fewer touchdown in the first half, Rankin heads to the locker room ahead, 62-58.
In the half, six of the nine Leakey touchdowns come on Hunter Williams runs. The back for the Eagles was virtually unstoppable during the game, amassing 319 yards on 23 carries.
“Hunter is an exceptional spread back,” added Avalos. “They would get him out there in the open field and we just couldn’t tackle him.”
“He’s a special athlete,” added his father and head coach. “He must’ve got it from my dad, because he certainly didn’t get it from me or his mom.”
On the Rankin side, De’Shon Goodley had four first half touchdowns. He finished the game with five rushing touchdowns and 294 yards on 20 carries.
Goodley, who had been playing in a limited capacity early in the season, was the offensive cornerstone for much of this contest, especially with the red Devils without two starters. Benjamin Rios broke his arm in week two against White Deer and Braxxton Kirkland was out for a family wedding.
Goodley sat out the Balmorhea game due to a COVID-19 quarantine then had limited reps in week two against White Deer. He was still banged up against Boden County and had to sit out the second half of last week’s game.
However, Williams kept the heat on the Red Devils, scoring right out of the break to give the Eagles their first lead since the middle of the first quarter. Unfortunately for Leakey, their scoring slowed a bit as both teams began to tire.
Rankin did outscore the Eagles in the third, 22-14 and evened the touchdown total at 11 apiece. The key once again was missed extra points. Despite being even in scores, Leakey trailed by 12, 84-72, heading into the final quarter on the heels of six more missed attempts compared to Rankin.
“I’d like to go back and change a few things,” said coach Williams. “That was some bone-headed coaching on my part. We should’ve started going for one after missing so many early. But we work on that every day and you figure you’ll start to make them.”
As the fourth began, it appeared as though things might start to slip away from the Eagles. The Red Devils’ Blake Wise scooped up a fumble and rambled 30 yards for a score and all of a sudden Rankin led by 18 at 90-72.
“At that moment, I really thought we had them on the ropes,” stated Avalos. “I looked over and they were having a lot of cramps. We had the momentum. I thought we were about to open it up. But give them credit, they fought hard and never gave up.”
“I have never had guy cramp here, but we were having problems,” said coach Williams. “I just told the guys to keep their heads up and keep fighting. I told them we had still a chance; we just needed a stop or a turnover. But at that point I’m just hoping we finish with pride.”
The Eagles did finish with pride and scored on four-straight possessions.
It started with a quick score, followed up by a defensive stop and a score. Now’s they’re down six, 90-84 and they’ve got a shot.
On the very next possession, they get their turnover.
After a Hunter Williams 33-yard touchdown strike to Jacob Rubio, the Eagles have tied the game at 90-all. This time Williams elects to go for one and they take the lead on a Hunter Williams run, 91-90.
Amazingly, there’s still over four minutes to play.
Rankin drives down the field but is held on downs. So now, with just over two minutes remaining, it appears Leakey’s opponent is now the clock. With a couple of first downs, they can force the Red Devils to utilize all of their timeouts and run out the clock.
“We told our kids to protect the ball,’ said Williams. “We knew we needed to make one more first down and we could kneel it out.”
But just when you thought the game couldn’t get any stranger, it did.
Roger Garcia breaks several tackles and appears headed to the end zone. As he reaches the one, he looks back towards his own sideline to see what he should do, but his momentum pulls him into the end zone.
The referees actually throw a flag, thinking Garcia was taunting and both sidelines are in a panic. Rankin is hoping for a score and no flag. Leakey is hoping they rule he didn’t get into the end zone. In the end, the officials put away the flag and signal touchdown.
Leakey now leads 97-90 and elects to go for two to put the game away. Of course, Rankin blocks the attempt and is still alive.
Offensively, Rankin switches things up and puts Goodley at end, hoping to confused the defense. They clear him out and open the zone for several runs, and before you know it, Justin Rodriguez scores on a 35-yard run.
Now the decision for Rankin is whether you go for the win or the tie?
“I’m on the headset talking to my coaches asking what we should do,” explains Avalos. “I look up and my kicker (David Alvarado) is already on the field, waving his hands for everyone to get out there. He was so confident; I went with it.”
The kick was good and now Rankin held a slim 98-97 lead.
With over a minute to go, the game was not over by any means.
Obviously, the plan was to get the ball into Hunter Williams’ hands and have him make a play with either his feet or his arm.
On the first play, Rankin was able to make a stop. On the second play, Leakey tried to get Goodley out of the middle of the field, but he didn’t bite and the pass was deflected.
“That was tough,” added Williams. “The first one was a mis-read on Hunter’s part. If he hits the other receiver, the receiver is off to the races. When the second one was tipped, the ball almost went straight to our receiver, but his momentum was heading the wrong direction.”
On third down, Rankin’s Justin Rodriguez strips the ball and Haden Loftin recovers it.
And that’s the ball game.
“The fourth quarter was a wild one,” added Williams. “I went from telling the kids to keep their heads up, to we’ve got a chance, to we’re going to win this thing, to we’ve got a chance. I wish it would’ve ended differently, but it wasn’t to be.”
In the end, Leakey still outscored Rankin 15-13 in touchdowns, but missed 11 of 14 kick attempts.
Leakey’s Garcia finished with 103 yards on two carries. In addition to his stellar rushing, Williams added 325 yard through the air and the Eagles amassed 808 yards of total offense.
For the Red Devils, Rodriguez added 264 yards on 19 carries. They had 718 yards of total offense.
“It was a classic,” added Avalos. “We’ve already had two of those this year when you count the Balmorhea game. I hope we can get eventually some rest and get healthy at some point. There’s some good football teams out here this year.”
RANKIN 98, LEAKEY 97
September 18, 2020
RANKIN 30 32 22 14 --98
LEAKEY 26 32 14 25 -- 97
L - Hunter Williams 4 Run (Kick failed) 0-6
R - Justin Rodriguez 45 Run (David Alvarado kick) 6-6
L - H. Williams 63 Run (Roger Garcia kick) 6-14
L - Roger Garcia 9 Run (kick failed) 6-20
R - De'Shon Goodley 18 Run (D. Alvarado kick) 14-20
R - D. Goodley 56 Run (D. Alvarado kick) 22-20
R - Matthew Gonzales 13 Pass From TJ Templeton (D. Alvarado kick) 30-20
L - H. Williams 33 Run (Kick failed) 30-26
R - Carlos Cura 4 Pass From TJ Templeton (D. Alvarado kick) 38-26
L - H. Williams 54 Run (Kick failed) 38-32
R - D. Goodley 35 Run (D. Alvarado kick) 46-32
L - Jacob Rubio 7 Pass from Abel Montoya (H. Williams kick) 46-40
L - H. Williams 3 Run (Kick failed) 46-46
R - D. Goodley 55 Run (D. Alvarado kick) 54-46
L - J. Rubio 40 Pass from H. Williams (Kick failed) 54-52
R - J. Rodriguez 54 Run (D. Alvarado kick) 62-52
L - H. Williams 3 Run (Kick failed) 62-58
L - H. Williams 24 Run (Kick failed) 62-64
R - D. Goodley 79 Run (D. Alvarado kick) 70-64
R - Kalob Aguero 28 Pass From D. Goodley (D. Alvarado kick) 78-64
L - R. Garcia 34 Run (H. Williams kick) 78-72
R - J. Rodriguez 51 Run (kick failed) 84-72
R - Blake Wise 30 Fumble Return (Kick failed) 90-72
L - H. Williams 34 Pass from Montoya (Kick failed) 90-78
L - Montoya 57 Pass from H. Williams (Kick failed) 90-84
L - Rubio 33 Pass from H. Williams (H. Williams run) 90-91
L - R. Garcia 27 Run (Kick failed) 90-97
R - J. Rodriguez 35 Run (D. Alvarado kick) 98-97
This article is available to our Digital Subscribers.
Click "Subscribe Now" to see a list of subscription offers.
Already a Subscriber? Sign In to access this content.