The final score wasn’t in James Buchanan’s favor, but it looks to be headed in the right direction.
The Rockets let a couple key second half situations slip away and dropped its season-opening game 20-6 to Big Spring on Friday night in a non-league game.
“The guys never gave up” JB first-year coach Cliff Pine said. “This is a different look JB football team. We can take a lot of good things from this game. I’m proud of all of them.”
JB found itself in an early 13-0 deficit, but with 8:28 left in the second quarter got on the scoreboard. Quarterback Caden Stoner connected with Logan Miller over the middle and outraced the Bulldog defenders to the end zone for a 35-yard TD strike.
Big Spring fumbled the ensuing kickoff setting JB up at its own 47, but an incomplete pass, a short 1-yard gain and a 12-yard sack squashed that drive.
After coming out of halftime trailing 13-6 the Rockets had a golden chance to tie or take the lead with their second drive of the third quarter, but came up empty.
Starting from its own 29, JB drove the length of the field to have first-and-goal at the Big Spring 5. Key plays in the drive were a 33-yard pass from Stoner to Miller and a 24-yard run by Stoner.
Three straight runs from the Bulldog 5 netted 4 yards for the Rockets and on fourth-and-goal from the 1 they tried a pass, which never developed and fell incomplete.
“We have to do a better job finishing drives,” Pine said. “We had 2 shots from the one and couldn’t punch it in.”
The second second-half sequence that didn’t go so well for JB worked out for Big Spring in helping it put the game out of reach.
With less than 7 minutes left in the game, still only trailing by 6, the Rockets started a drive at their own 20.
JB picked up two first downs on a run by Stoner and a nice 22-yard pass from CJ Gehart to Grant Ellis to set up another first down at the Bulldog 47. From there the Rockets went backwards.
Gerhart was sacked on back-to-back plays and after an 8-yard Gerhart scramble JB faced a fourth-and-14 from the Big Spring 49. Pine and his staff decided to roll the dice and go for it instead of punting. On the fourth down play Stoner dropped back to pass, but was under a ton of pressure was dropped for a 9-yard loss.
From its own 40, Big Spring only needed 5 plays to secure the win. Dylan Wakefield, who rushed for 102 yards and scored 2 TDs, capped off the last scoring drive with a 24-yard TD burst up the middle.
NOTES: Hunter Smith led JB with 20 yards rushing while Stoner (79) and Gehart (61), who split time at QB, and combined for 140 yards. Ellis grabbed 4 passes for 63 yards and Miller finished with 3 catches for 74 yards … The Rockets don’t play again until Oct. 9 at Newport.
Big Spring 20 James Buchanan 6
James Buchanan 0 0 6 0 – 6
Big Spring 13 0 0 7 – 20
BS – Dylan Wakefield 19 run (kick failed), 8:20
BS – Jack Shulenberger 29 run (Collin Roberts kick), 3:18
JB – Logan Miller 35 pass from Caden Stoner (run failed), 8:28
BS – Wakefield 24 run (Roberts kick), 2:32
First downs – JB 12; BS 13
Rushes-yds – JB 35-16; BS 38-181
Passing – JB 8-14-0-140; BS 5-8-0-72
Total yds – JB 156; BS 254
Rushing: JB – Hunter Smith 10-20, Mason Line 6-11, Grant Ellis 2-10, Stoner 10-6, Miller 1-0, CJ Gerhart 6-(-31); BS – Grant Long 7-33, Logan Schmidt 1-(-1), Eli Hasco 3-10, Shulenberger 6-33, Wakefield 20-102, Joseph Tressler 1-4.
Passing: JB – Stoner 5-11-0-79, Gerhart 3-3-0-61; BS – Shulenberger 5-8-0-72.
Receiving – JB – Miller 3-74, Ellis 4-63, Smith 1-3; BS – Seth Griffie 1-11, Hasco 1-15, Long 1-7, Tressler 1-40, Schmidt 1-0.