Call in the Uni-coroner

Football wins road showdown with New Braunfels, 41-24


Davis Kuhn

Travis McCracken races for a first down on Thursday against New Braunfels. McCracken’s scored three touchdowns in the Rangers’ 41-24 victory.

Jackson Posey, Sports Director

Football took down New Braunfels on Thursday, 41-24, behind Travis McCracken’s touchdown hat trick. The win bumped the Rangers to 2-0 in district play and 5-0 overall.

Early on, the game looked to have the makings of a shootout. New Braunfels’ return team nearly broke a major gain on the opening kickoff, but were stopped at their own 32-yard line. Fifteen plays and almost seven minutes later, Lance Beeghley stretched way back to catch a goal-line fade in the end zone.

It didn’t take long for the Rangers to answer back. On the ensuing kickoff, Brayden Bafidis caught the ball at the Smithson Valley 1-yard line and never looked back, running 99 yards for a touchdown. It was his second return touchdown of the year, after taking a punt to the house in Week 1 at Warren.

The Unicorns nearly responded with a second touchdown, but after a dropped post route in the end zone, settled for a 33-yard field goal. They were back in the lead.

But, like most first-quarter advantages, this one didn’t last long. Four Rangers touched the ball on the 74-yard drive, which ended with McCracken punching it in from the 2-yard line. (This was a common sight, as he scored thrice on the night.)

The next possession began normally enough, but quickly devolved into quirks and shenanigans. Landon Marsh kicked off the drive with an impressive 38-yard gain along the right sideline, which was increased by a 15-yard facemask penalty. Ryker Purdy ran up the middle for six yards, and then things got weird.

On third down, the pass rush immediately overwhelmed quarterback Aiden Baumann, who backpedaled about 20 yard and threw the ball away – to his own right tackle. Who caught it. Intentional grounding was not called because the pass was ruled tipped, and so it was that the Baumann completed a pass 17 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

The offense faced a fourth-and-21 from the Smithson Valley 35-yard line, and elected to send out the punting unit. They drew a Ranger offsides, and this time sent out their kicking unit. But Malachi Lane leapt towards the ball at just the right moment, swatting the kick before it reached the line of scrimmage. Gavin Woods scooped up the ball and ran it all the way back to New Braunfels’ 24-yard line.

Capitalizing on the good field position, McCracken scored on an 11-yard run to extend the lead to 20-10. The Rangers scored on their next drive, too, as Derek Mata evaded pressure long enough to find Dylan Domel deep for a 57-yarder.

That score made it 27-10 with 2:31 left to play. Mata threw a desperation heave as the first-half clock expired, but Marsh snagged it and ran it back to his own 27-yard line.

Both teams punted to start the second half, but things heated up when New Braunfels defensive back Hayden Kaufman snagged a pick at the Smithson Valley 29-yard line. Purdy gained all but two yards on the drive, including the six leading up to the end zone. The score shaved the lead to 27-17.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Rangers were 32 yards away from scoring another touchdown. Three plays later, they did, on Lane’s shoulders. He finished the drive with six carries for 40 yards and six points. That pumped the lead up to 34-17.

The Unicorns drove 85 yards and scored again on another end zone fade by Beeghley, but took over five minutes to do so. And, at a certain point, they simply ran out of time.

The Rangers recovered the onside kick, meandered downfield and scored another touchdown. Then, with the Unicorns facing fourth-and4 at their own 44-yard line, they sacked Baumann for a loss of eight yards. A minute and a half later, the final buzzer sounded. Smithson Valley was on top, 41-24.

The win keeps the Rangers undefeated, and they’ll hope to keep momentum going during their upcoming bye week before hosting Clemens on Oct. 8. New Bruanfels, meanwhile, falls to 1-1 in district play, and will also take a week off before traveling to district title-contending Steele on Oct. 8.