CAPTION: The Llano Yellow Jackets pose with another gold ball trophy that symbolizes another Class 3A Division I postseason victory. This one came against Vanderbilt Industrial Nov. 25. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
The Llano High School football team ensured everyone continued to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday thanks to its 42-17 victory against Vanderbilt Industrial Nov. 25.
The Yellow Jackets (13-0, 6-0 District 13-3A Division I champions) will face Edna (12-1, 6-1 District 15-3A Division I champion) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at Rattler Stadium, 2601 Rattler Road in San Marcos.
“I thought our kids were exceptional,” Llano head coach Matt Green said. “You saw the toughness and resiliency of our kids.”
The two teams played to a 14-14 half-time tie. Since the Yellow Jackets won the coin flip to begin the game and deferred, they received the ball to begin the third quarter.
Thanks to senior Miguel Hernandez, that was a great decision. Hernandez caught the ball and ran 65 yards to the Cobras’ (10-3, 5-1 District 15-3A Division I runners-up) 28-yard line.
Three plays later, junior quarterback Briggs Green found senior receiver Ross Prokop for the 32-yard touchdown. Senior Bryce Mize added the extra point for the 21-14 lead with 10 minutes and 36 seconds left in the quarter.
Llano kicked the ball and recovered the pooch onside kick when Industrial didn’t. The Jackets showed some razzle dazzle with a reverse and flea flicker back to Green who found senior receiver Jackson Dillard for a 39-yard completion to the Cobras’ two-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Carson Kuykendall scored from one-yard out for the 28-14 advantage with 9:53 remaining in the third period.
Industrial finally got on the scoreboard thanks to connecting on a 25-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 28-17. The key play, however, was when senior defensive back Ulisses Martinez caught sophomore running back Cooper Martin from behind to prevent him from scoring, catching him on the Llano three-yard line after he ran for 55 yards. The defense stiffened, giving up a yard on first-and-goal, earned a six-yard sack on second down, and knocked the ball away on third down.
Coach Green called those three series the difference in the game.
“That was a back breaker for them,” he said. “Our special teams have been so good. Ulisses catches him from behind, Miguel almost takes the kickoff to the house, and we recovered that kick. To me, those were three ginormous plays.”
In the final stanza, quarterback Green and Kuykendall scored the game’s final two touchdowns.
Green capped a five-play, 54-yard drive with a three-yard run to paydirt that took 53 seconds to complete for a 35-17 lead with 11:30 left in the contest.
Kuykendall ran 48 yards to the end zone to end a six-play, 65-yard drive for a 42-17 advantage with 2:47 remaining in the game.
The contest began with Industrial taking the short kickoff to the Llano 28-yard line. The Cobras needed two plays to score thanks to junior quarterback Ashton Garza hitting senior receiver Clearance Hosey for the four-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 11:18 remaining in the first period.
After the two teams exchanged punts, the Jackets got on the scoreboard when quarterback Green hit Dillard on a 62-yard touchdown pass to finish a three-play, 77-yard drive to tie the contest at 7-7 with 6:03 remaining in the quarter.
Two series later, senior defensive back Isaiah Bush got his first interception that Green and Dillard turned into points when the duo combined for a 21-yard scoring pass. That capped a five-play, 31-yard drive for a 14-7 lead with 8:44 left in the half.
Industrial tied the contest with 2:25 remaining when Martin finished a nine-play, 79-yard drive with a 14-yard scamper to the end zone.
That set up the dramatic third quarter.
Coach Green noted many offensive players performed like stars and made numerous plays that were vitally important throughout the match-up. Since the defense was focused on Kuykendall, running back Hernandez stepped in and gave the Cobras another Jacket they had to contain, he noted.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids,” he said. “MIguel gave us another punch. I thought it bought time for Kuykendall. Miguel has been a team player, and today he goes over 1,000 yards.”
To date, Hernandez has 137 carries for 1,005 yards and 6 touchdowns. Against Industrial, Hernandez had 8 rushes for 41 yards, while Kuykendall had 30 carries for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns and 254 caries for 1,773 yards and 11 scores during the season.
Briggs Green had 6 carries for 30 yards and a score and completed 7 of 14 passes for 204 yards and 3 touchdowns. Dillard caught 4 passes for 156 yards and 2 scores and Prokop had the 32-yard touchdown reception.
Bush caught three interceptions with two coming in the fourth quarter to seal the contest.
“He played huge,” the coach said. “We got pressure on (Garza). The pressure and Isaiah is a tremendous combination.”
Llano is 13-0 for the second time in three years. In 2020, the Jackets lost to Halletsville and finished the season at 13-1.