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Llano football season ends with loss to Edna in state quarterfinals

CAPTION: Llano senior defensive back Isaiah Bush points to let the Llano bench and fans know the Yellow Jackets have recovered a fumble as senior defensive back Caden Bauman (17) and senior defensive end Jaxon Rhea (44) begin to run toward their teammates in celebration against Edna Dec. 2. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

The Llano High School football team lost to Edna 40-21 Dec. 1 in the Class 3A Division I regional finals or state quarterfinals of the University Interscholastic League playoffs.

The Yellow Jackets end the season with a 13-1 overall record and another district championship in 2022.

“It hurts because it matters,” head coach Matt Green told his players, students parents and fans during their postgame huddle on the Rattler Stadium field in San Marcos. “I’m proud of you. You went 13-1 and were two rounds away from going to the state championship. There are teams watching you on television and they wanted to play. Be proud of what you accomplished. You accomplished so much. Thank you. I love you.”

Observers in August had talked about Edna being a top team in the region and the Cowboys showed why: an offensive line that averaged 250 pounds, speed at the skill positions, and a solid defense that made opponents earn everything.

Late in the first quarter, after the two teams exchanged turnovers, Edna finally got on the board when junior quarterback Jaiden Clay found sophomore receiver Braylon Harris on a 38-yard touchdown pass to complete a seven-play, 80-yard drive that took 2 minutes and 14 seconds to complete for a 6-0 lead.

That triggered five consecutive touchdowns for the Cowboys.

After the Yellow Jackets punted, Edna needed seven plays to cover 74 yards in a drive that ended when sophomore running back Kade Rodas caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Clay for a 13-0 advantage with 9:13 left in the half.

Llano’s next drive ended in a sack and the second fumble recovered by Edna sophomore lineman Whit Martin on the Jackets’ 39-yard line.

Kade Rodas completed the seven-play drive with a one-yard run to paydirt for a 20-0 advantage with 5:02 remaining in the second quarter.

Edna junior defensive back Floyd Ragston finished the first half by catching an interception and returning it 87 yards for a touchdown and a 27-0 lead at the intermission.

The Cowboys began the third quarter the way they ended the second period — with a touchdown.

After recovering an onside kick, Edna needed nine plays to finish a 58-yard drive when Clay scored a four-yard touchdown run and a 33-0 lead with 7:57 left in third quarter.

Llano’s first scoring drive began when senior defensive back Ulisses Martinez caught an interception to give the Jackets possession on the Edna 41.

Senior running back Case Kuykendall completed the four-play drive on a 10-yard touchdown run that needed 76 seconds to finish. Senior Bryce Mize added the extra point to cut into the deficit 33-7 with 3:06 left in the third stanza.

The Jackets needed one play to score after senior defensive back Caden Bauman recovered an Edna fumble on the Cowboys’ 31-yard line. Junior quarterback Briggs Green hit senior receiver Ross Prokop for the touchdown to trim the deficit 33-14 with 1:11 left in the third period.

Edna responded by recovering a Llano fumble that Clay turned into a seven-yard touchdown run to complete the three-play, 21-yard drive for a 40-14 advantage with 5:20 left in the contest.

The Jackets’ scored the contest’s final points when Green found senior receiver Coy Kelso on a 27-yard touchdown pass to finish a 10-play, 83-yard drive for the 40-21 final.

Llano finished the contest with 316 yards of total offense paced by Kuykendall’s 25 rushes for 158 yards and a touchdown. Senior running back Miguel Hernandez had 6 carries for 34 yards. Junior quarterback Briggs Green completed 11 of 18 passes for 133 yards, 2 scores and an interception. Prokop caught 3 passes for 33 yards and a touchdown and senior receiver Jackson Dillard had 3 receptions for 32 yards.

The Cowboys had 366 yards of total offense with Clay having 12 rushes for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns and completed 9 of 14 passes for 139 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions. Kade Rodas has 13 rushes for 52 yards and a touchdown and caught 2 passes for 8 yards and a score.

Coach Green noted the Jackets had opportunities in the first quarter they didn’t turn into points. One was when Martinez caught his first interception of the game he returned to the Cowboys’ 25-yard line. But the Jackets fumbled four plays later, which was recovered by sophomore defensive lineman Whit Martin.

On Edna’s ensuing drive, Llano junior linebacker Fitz Kennedy recovered the fumble on the Cowboys’ 29-yard line. But the Jackets missed a 29-yard field goal attempt, and the Cowboys scored on the ensuing drive to trigger five straight touchdowns.

“We had some chances early that we didn’t take advantage of,” the coach said. “When you get in the fourth round of the playoffs and you’re playing a great team, you have to maximize your opportunities, and we didn’t. You have to play well in those opportunities, and we didn’t. The story of this game is the first half. (In the second half), we created turnovers and did some good things, and we capitalized on turnovers.”

He pointed out the Cowboys have the offensive elements that make them a challenge to contain.

“They controlled the line of scrimmage, they have a big bruising back and a speedster,” he said.

Green noted the Llano seniors have played in almost 40 varsity games and have given the Llano community plenty to cheer for during the last several years.

“They’ve won a lot of games, and we’ll celebrate the fourth round of the playoffs,” he said.

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