CAPTION: Burnet junior quarterback Rhett Murray and the Bulldogs earn another impressive road win and are hitting their strides with one game remaining in the regular season. Photo by Daniel Clifton
The Burnet High School football team stunned San Antonio Davenport 41-34 Oct. 27 for a three-way tie in District 13-4A Division I.
The Bulldogs (6-3, 3-1), Davenport (6-3, 3-1) and Lampasas (7-2, 3-1) are all tied for first place with one game remaining in the regular season, which will be played Friday, Nov. 3. Taylor (4-4, 1-2) secured the other playoff berth with a 66-28 win against Canyon Lake.
If Burnet beats Taylor, it will be a co-champion if Davenport and Lampasas also win. Davenport travels to face Marble Falls (1-8, 0-4) and Lampasas is at Canyon Lake (2-6, 1-2).
But if Taylor wins, the Bulldogs enter the playoffs as the fourth-place team out of the district. Fourth place faces the District 14-4A Division I champion — Boerne High — in the first round of the playoffs.
Going into the Davenport contest, Burnet head coach Bryan Wood pointed out that every time his team won the turnover battle, the Bulldogs exited the field victorious.
Oct. 27 was no different.
The Bulldogs forced three turnovers — two fumbles and a turnover on downs — in momentum shifters that paved the way for success.
The first fumble came at the end of the second quarter when senior linebacker Trenton Park knocked the ball loose as the Wolves were going for a touchdown. The ball rolled into the end zone and Jacob Atkinson fell on it for the touchback.
In the fourth period with Burnet leading 34-31, senior defensive back Gilbert Valdez caused a fumble that was recovered by senior linebacker Dash Denton. Burnet also forced a turnover on downs in the final stanza to turn Davenport away again.
“They turned it over twice, and we didn’t turn it over,” Wood said. “Every possession was going to matter. We ran 7 plays, they ran 68. Turnovers are easily the difference.”
While that may have been the most important factor in the outcome, it wasn’t the only one. Part of the Burnet game plan was to slow the pace and that meant keeping an eye on the play clock, Wood said.
“We held the ball a long time,” he said. “We weren’t snapping it with more than five seconds on the play clock.”
And another important statistic was the Bulldogs’ efficiency on third down. Burnet was 10 for 13. Wood attributed that success to the positive yards the unit gained on first and second down. In all, 12 Bulldogs had offensive touches not counting the quarterback.
“We were earning three and four yards here and there,” the coach said. “It was seldom a third and long. We decided we weren’t going to play the game with a four-down mentality. We were getting it on third down.”
Burnet had 172 rushing yards and 283 passing yards for 455 yards of total offense. Junior quarterback Rhett Murray completed 25 of 34 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Park caught seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Senior athlete Grant Jones caught four passes for 51 yards and a score and had two rushes for 57 yards and a touchdown. Running back Denton had 17 rushes for 76 yards and two touchdowns followed by junior running back Khriss Kassner with six carries for 28 yards.
Wood also praised defensive coordinator Ben Speer and that unit, not only for getting three turnovers but also for making the immediate adjustments to the game plan and putting the Bulldogs in position to be successful.
Davenport had 405 yards of total offense with 129 on the ground and 276 in the air.
“Coach Speer and our defensive guys are phenomenal,” he said. “I looked at the clock that had 11 minutes and 21 seconds left in the first quarter — they had just scored. I’m thinking, ‘It’s about to be a boat race.’ But they made the right adjustments. And our kids are playing so fast. These guys are playing their tails off.”
Park led with 12 tackles, followed by Atkinson and linebacker Kassner with eight apiece. Senior defensive back Will Johnson and Denton each had seven tackles,
In back-to-back road games, Burnet has beaten the defending district champion, Canyon Lake, and the district leader, Davenport. While Wood and his staff aren’t using the word ‘underdog’ to describe their squad, they are emphasizing a message that resonates with the players.
“You have to go play and throw every punch you got,” he said. “I felt like we played really loose and watched a blend of guys make plays, love each other and fight for each other.”
Watch videos on Highland Lakes sports by going to Fierro’s YouTube channel and searching for The Broad Podcaster. Please like, subscribe and share.