CAPTION: Burnet junior quarterback Rhett Murray was decisive with his passes, throwing for 155 yards against Port Lavaca Calhoun. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography
The Burnet High School football team lost to Port Lavaca Calhoun 42-14 Nov. 17 to end its season in the Class 4A Division I playoffs.
The Bulldogs earned its best record since the 2019 team’s 6-4 record. But that squad missed the playoffs because it lost out on tiebreaker rules and head-to-head match-ups.
“It’s the second round of the playoffs,” Burnet head coach Bryan Wood said. “They played a better game than we did. I thought our effort was great. We felt like every possession was critical.”
The Bulldogs (8-4, 4-1 District 13-4A Division I co-champions) couldn’t have started the game better against Calhoun.
A pooch kick on the kickoff went straight up into the air, traveling the necessary 10 yards to make it a live ball. Burnet quickly got to it to gain possession.
“They were looking at it,” Wood said. “It really wasn’t designed for us to get it. We were hoping we’d be there at the right time. We were ready and able to get to it.”
Three plays later, senior athlete Grant Jones scored on the two-yard touchdown run for the 7-0 lead less than a minute into the contest.
Calhoun (8-4, 4-1 District 15-4A Division I champion) immediately responded with an eight-play, 66-yard drive that finished when junior quarterback Alex Parker scored on a one-yard plunge to tie the game at 7-7.
But Burnet answered with a time-consuming drive, covering 75 yards in 13 plays that ended on a three-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Will Johnson from junior quarterback Rhett Murray for a 14-7 score. The drive took 6:50 to finish.
The Sandcrabs responded on their next drive, going 59 yards in 10 plays with another Parker touchdown to tie the game at 14-14.
Then Calhoun called for and recovered an onside kick and used a heavy dose of junior splitback Darrik Salinas and senior fullback Jayce Campos. The two split carries throughout the drive that ended when Salinas scored on a 14-yard run for the 21-14 lead with 4:51 left in the half.
The Bulldogs punted on their next possession because of a bad snap on second-and-six after a big gain on first down.
The Sandcrabs marched 73 yards in about a dozen plays and Campos scored on a three-yard run with seconds left in the half for a 28-14 lead.
Burnet tried to respond on the first drive of the third quarter and even used a fake punt to keep the drive going. But Calhoun recovered the fumble on a bad snap.
This drive was the difference in the outcome.
“We thought we’d go score and get back in it and get a stop,” Wood said.
From there it was all Calhoun. The Sandcrabs scored on a three-play drive and on a 12-play drive.
In all, Calhoun had 437 yards of total offense with 394 coming on the ground thanks to 54 rushes for an average of 7.3 yards. Campos led with 24 carries for 133 yards and 2 scores, while Salinas had 12 rushes for 101 yards and a touchdown, and Parker finished with 11 carries for 79 yards and 3 touchdowns.
“They’re very efficient in what they do,” Wood said. “They’re not the biggest or the strongest. They can run. We could never get them off the field. They punted once. We never got them in a situation where we could get them off the field.”
He credited Parker for his understanding of the scheme and his decisions on what to do with the football.
“The quarterback operates it really well,” he said. “You have to tackle the fullback. The quarterback keeps it or throws it or pitches it off. That’s the key. We made contact, and he was pitching it off. He operates it very, very well.”
Burnet had 255 yards of total offense with 100 through its rushing attack and 155 through the air. The Bulldogs had only three offensive possessions in the first half and scored on two.
Senior running back Dash Denton had 9 carries for 58 yards, while Grant Jones had 6 rushes for 41 yards and a score.
Murray completed 13 of 17 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Senior receiver Trenton Park had 7 receptions for 108 yards.
“We were really good at running ball,” Wood said. “They finished every drive.”
As he thought about the season, his mind drifted to the seniors. Wood said this team can be summed up in one word.
“Resiliency is the word that comes to mind,” he said. “We’re in year three with all these senior guys who’ve been through the (grind) with us. They started as sophomores. They’ve done everything we asked them to do. And you want them to be rewarded. And they were certainly rewarded and deservedly so because of everything they’ve done. It’s a special group. I couldn’t be more proud of a group doing what you ask them to do.
“When you’re new to a program, you have to sell the product,” he added. “This group of seniors bought into it. If we were asked in August that we’d get two gold balls and an 8-4 record, would we take it? That’s a hard yes. There’s lots of times you win and it’s selfishly for you as a coach. I made sure I sat back and watched those kids be rewarded for what they’ve done.”
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