The University Trojans fought hard, showing flashes of a team eager to snap a 44-game losing streak, but ultimately fell to Bryan Rudder, 42-21, on Friday night at Waco ISD Stadium to fall to 0-9 on the year.
Two fourth-quarter touchdown grabs by C.J. Crane illustrated that fight. Despite being in a big hole, the offense found a bit of a spark from the senior wide receiver. He caught an 80-yard strike from quarterback Tyrin Archibold with 8:05 left. Then, following a blocked punt, he caught a 50-50 ball in the corner of the end zone on 3rd-and-16 for University’s final score.
The Trojans even recovered a fumble with 47 seconds to play, but they were unable to narrow the margin further.
As has been the case far too often the last several years for this program’s players, coaches and fans, a few key plays kept all the momentum on the other team’s sideline.
For instance, the Trojans were looking to keep it a two-score game right before halftime. However, a badly underthrown deep pass from Ranger quarterback Hunter Dobbins was deflected up in the air by University defensive back Korey Moore, who was in perfect position for the interception. Rudder receiver Daveon Calhoun was the extremely fortunate beneficiary of the tipped ball, and his 34-yard touchdown catch made it 28-7.
The Rangers (2-7, 2-3 in 18-5A) scored the first two touchdowns of the game, but with 42 ticks left in the first quarter, Archibald found wide receiver Osea Cadena for a 49-yard touchdown. The junior play-caller put a lot of air under the ball, allowing Cadena to run under it and scurry into the end zone.
Following that score, the University defense also turned in a big play, as linebacker Abel Mantemayor fell on the ball after an errant Rudder handoff. The University offense could not take advantage of the turnover, though. The Rangers actually fumbled three times in the first half, but the Trojans were only able to recover one of the miscues.
Overall, University was able to limit the big play, but long, time-consuming Rudder drives kept the Trojans at arms’ length throughout the contest. A 98-yard drive that consumed over six minutes in the third quarter was especially backbreaking.