Defense dominates, offense operates and Rangers radiate in win over Hornets

The Rangers ran their way to victory in a 45-13 win over East Central

QB+Luke+Gombert+and+WR+Eric+Titzman+discuss+a+play+on+the+sidelines+during+a+game+against+Schertz+Clemens.++The+pair+connected+twice+for+28+yards+on+Friday+versus+East+Central.
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Defense dominates, offense operates and Rangers radiate in win over Hornets

QB Luke Gombert and WR Eric Titzman discuss a play on the sidelines during a game against Schertz Clemens.  The pair connected twice for 28 yards on Friday versus East Central.

QB Luke Gombert and WR Eric Titzman discuss a play on the sidelines during a game against Schertz Clemens. The pair connected twice for 28 yards on Friday versus East Central.

Danielle Esperiqueta

QB Luke Gombert and WR Eric Titzman discuss a play on the sidelines during a game against Schertz Clemens. The pair connected twice for 28 yards on Friday versus East Central.

Danielle Esperiqueta

Danielle Esperiqueta

QB Luke Gombert and WR Eric Titzman discuss a play on the sidelines during a game against Schertz Clemens. The pair connected twice for 28 yards on Friday versus East Central.

Jackson Posey, Sports Editor

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Just as the crowd began tightening their blankets on Friday night, the Rangers loosened the reins on their high-powered offense, handling the Hornets 45-13 on homecoming night for the Boys in Blue.

My predicted final score was 41-27. I take full responsibility for my actions – just because I oscillated between 20 and 27 doesn’t make me a better analyst. No, the only thing that can help me now is to stop underrated this Ranger defense, which may be the best in the state. Trey Moore blocked another punt, Mason Livingston and Jalen Nutt snagged an interception apiece, Connor Hambrick forced a fumble, and the unit as a whole picked up multiple sacks and a plethora of tackles for loss. Since they’ve entered district play, the Rangers have allowed just 35 points over a three-game span, the best in District 26-6A; the only other team with less than 82 points allowed is traditional powerhouse Converse Judson, with 43.

However, as mentioned in my game preview, this was no ordinary game. I was wary of star tailback DeAngelo Rosemond, who’s 7+ yard-per-carry average seemed a tall task for any team, especially a Ranger unit missing Darlington Frasch. But Americas Sanders and Friends held up very well, slicing through the Hornet offensive line and making Rosemond fight for every inch of his 178 total yards – a number inflated by a 75-yard garbage-time touchdown against Ranger backups. It was almost painful to watch – the senior running back would break multiple tackles and still get brought down for a loss.

That stands in stark contrast with Smithson Valley’s stable of backs. The group totaled 291 yards, and clearly outperformed East Central in every conceivable way. Rosemond may have been the most talented backfield threat in this game, but it was his opponents who best exploited the ground game. The Hornets actually did well at slowing down WR/RB Greg Eggleston (6/50/1 rushing; dropped a would-be TD on his only target), but drained other resources to do so. Jacob Forton (23/89/3) was the biggest benefactor of this. At least three times, the bell cow would have gaping holes to charge through after so much of the defense physically tracked Eggleston’s jet motion.

But even without huge yardage outputs from the stars, other pieces rose to the occasion. Junior Gabe Hoskins, for instance, showed what he could do with a 6/82/1 night, including a 47-yard score in the fourth quarter. The bench duo of Braxton Bounds and Justin Avery – both of whom would play large roles at just about any other school – combined for 70 yards and a touchdown, as well. Through the air – there was passing in this game? – Luke Gombert managed to put together an 84-yard performance, including completing a surprising eight of his 11 passes. The senior has completed under 42% of his throws on the year, so this is nice to see from him heading into tougher district games. 

The Hornets signal-caller, on the other hand… yeesh. I was high on Caden Bosanko coming into the game; sophomores don’t often play as well as he had in the team’s first five weeks. But an intense Ranger pass rush and a lot of tight coverage left him looking indecisive and at times inept, despite his obvious talent. For the game, Bosanko was 4/11 for 35 yards and two interceptions. Look closer and you’ll see poor decision-making, a fumble, and a lack of pocket awareness. These are traits that come with age, and a more-seasoned Bosanko should iron out these deficiencies. But it is worth pointing out if for no other reason than to appreciate this great Ranger defense and the effect it has on quarterbacks.

Smithson Valley is a pretty good football team. They have a defense better than Judson’s and an offense that rivals Steele’s. The panic that stemmed from a brutal Week One loss to Midland Lee seems to have mostly faded, replaced with excitement and wonder. But Rutledge Stadium is where excitement and wonder go to die, and it remains to be seen how well the Ranger faithful will weather the storm that is the Judson Rockets. If it’s anything like how they handled tonight’s atmospheric conditions, the team will be just fine.

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