A clear Lane to victory

Senior leads Smithson Valley football to 42-14 win over District 27-6A foe Wagner


Davis Kuhn

Malachi Lane rumbles into the end zone for a 61-yard touchdown on Friday against Wagner. Lane also blocked a punt a recovered a fumble, which he returned for another score, in football’s 42-14 win over the Thunderbirds.

Jackson Posey, Sports Director

Who’s the first Ranger this season to score offensive and defensive touchdowns in the same game? The answer might not surprise you.

Football took down Wagner, 42-14, after the Rangers won the second half, 21-0. Malachi Lane lit up the box score, as he rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown, took a fumble recovery 40 yards to the house and blocked a punt. Travis McCracken tacked on two touchdowns of his own, his second consecutive game with multiple scores.

The game began with a bang, as Wagner marched 63 yards down the field and into the end zone on the opening drive. The drive notably included two completions from the Thunderbird offense, for 45 yards and a touchdown; entering the game, quarterback Isaiah Williams had completed just two passes for 57 yards and a touchdown.

The Rangers returned serve, though, as Chase Senelick threw three passes for 48 yards and McCracken took them the rest of the way. Tie ball game.

After Lane brought down running back Quentin Owens in the backfield, the Thunderbirds were forced to punt. Brayden Bafidis returned the kick nearly to midfield, and on his first offensive snap, Lane rumbled 61 yards for a touchdown.

The Thunderbirds retaliated with a 16-play drive, which seemingly ended on a failed fourth-and-1 conversion but was resuscitated by an offsides penalty. With 9:13 left in the first half, a running back who might have been Josh Collazo (wearing No. 32 rather than his customary No. 4) punched it in from a yard out to tie up the game.

But that was it for Wagner’s offense, as far as scoring is concerned. A few minutes later, Senelick stretched his way to his first touchdown of the game, and that’s how the half ended.

The Rangers failed to score off the second-half kickoff, but their defense stood firm, as Jaxson Maynard stuffed Owens on fourth-and-4 from the Ranger 27-yard line. 

Another three-and-out led to the Rangers’ third punt of the night, but the defense again stepped up, as Kolton Scheppler stripped the ball from Owens and Lane scooped it up for a 40-yard score.

Consecutive sacks forced the Thunderbirds to punt again, but this time Lane found a hole in the line, and he swatted the ball out of the air. A Wagner blocker grabbed the ball, but David DeHoyos quickly brought him down to grant his offense possession deep in Wagner territory.

This time, they capitalized, as McCracken ran for his second touchdown of the night.

Again the Rangers forced a punt, and again they capitalized, this time in the form of Doug Lantz, who carried the ball four times for 38 yards and a score.

That pretty much brought an end to the game, as both teams allowed the play clock to run down for much of the final eight minutes.

The story of this district opener wasn’t so much the stat sheet; Wagner actually finished with more total offensive yards (252 to 223). But it was everything outside of raw offensive production that mattered the most. Wagner committed more penalties than the Rangers, lost a fumble and failed to convert a fourth down conversion attempt. Meanwhile, the Rangers blocked a punt, committed no turnovers and pinned their opponents inside their own 10-yard line with a 57-yard punt.

The Rangers, now 4-0 overall and 1-0 in district play, will travel to New Braunfels (4-0, 1-0) on Thursday. The Thunderbirds will host Steele (4-0, 1-0) the following day.