The only thing close about the game between the Glen Rose Tigers (5-2, 2-0) and the Whitney Wildcats (2-5, 0-2) was the parking at Whitney Stadium on the middle school campus.
Even though the Tigers biggest lead over the course of the first half was 10, the Tigers dominated the “Kittens” in every aspect of the contest.
The first two plays of the game were a strong indication of how it would go.
Whitney signal caller Justin Bartley was sacked by Tiger defensive end Hunter Ratliff and then coughed up the ball on the next play. It was scooped up by Graham Noell.
The ensuing Tiger possession would end on a 25-yard field goal by Tanner Tongate to give Glen Rose a 3-0 lead with 9:01 left in the first quarter.
Offensively the Tigers struggled to put points on the board in the first half, posting a 10-spot following an eight-yard touchdown trot by Chase Evatt.
However, the Wildcats had just one successful drive that ended in only three points.
The “successful” Whitney drive lasted nine plays and ended in a 32-yard field goal, but of the previous eight plays the Wildcats had three positive yardage plays, one play of no gain and four that lost yardage.
“We had to overcome a lot of adversity because we had a lot of kids missing,” said Glen Rose head coach Tommy Dunn. “We had a lot of players out due to illness so we had to scramble a little bit in the first half and it took us a little while to recover. We asked guys to play both ways and it took us a while to get going, but those guys came through for us.”
In the second half, the Tigers got things figured out.
The Glen Rose stop troops remained dominant, allowing only three first downs over the remaining two quarters.
Colt Plaster led the Tigers to a 21-point third period to seal the victory.
Plaster ran for a touchdown from five yards out and threw one from 22 yards deep to Ty Taylor, with a five-yard Cody Burtscher scoring run sandwiched in between.
The Tigers continued to pour it on in the fourth, taking the opening possession of the period 71 yards to the Whitney nine-yard line. Tongate connected on a 26-yard field goal to make the score 34-3.
Two plays into the following Whitney possession, Stetson Murdock scooped up a Bartley fumble and took it 25 yards to the house to finish the scoring.
Plaster completed 73.9 percent of his passes on the night going 17-23 for 243 yards and a TD.
“It all starts with the guys up front. We struggled a little in the first half because we were scrambling with different personnel, but once we settled down we played well and we saw the result in the final score,” Dunn said.
Plaster completed passes to six different receivers. Taylor was his favorite target with six receptions for 119 yards.
Kevin Brooks snatched four passes for 65 yards while Dylan Rodriguez grabbed four passes for 57 yards.
As he has in almost every game of the season, Evatt was the leading rusher with 97 yards and a score on 15 trips.
Maverick Green took advantage of his limited, late game action, racking up 45 yards on just four carries.
Glen Rose’s defense dominated the Whitney ground game, holding the Wildcats to negative 47 yards rushing on 24 carries. Bartley was sacked 12 times including seven in the first half.
Ratliff was the key pain in Bartley’s side, bringing the Wildcat quarterback to ground four times en route to nine tackles, two for loss, and a forced fumble.
Seth Mann also created havoc for the Wildcat signal caller, making 10 tackles, two for loss and 2.5 sacks.
Noell added seven tackles, two for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
“Our defensive line dominated up front and our linebackers and defensive backs just couldn’t get to (the Whitney backfield),” said co-defensive coordinator Todd Swearengin. “Those guys up front really controlled the line of scrimmage and that’s good to see.”
The field conditions weren’t exactly ideal. The mud pit was a struggle and in the fourth quarter, Dunn’s biggest concern entering the game came to fruition.
“We practiced in the mud a couple of times leading up to the game. The first day we practiced in the mud we weren’t very good. I wanted to make sure we had a couple of days. I thought we played pretty well. My main concern with the mud is injuries because there are so many holes in the field,” said Dunn. “Shelby (Junge) is day-to-day with a sprained right ankle. We’ll see how he responds to treatment and hopefully he’ll be good to go.”
If Junge is unable to go against Gatesville on Friday, his vacant safety position will be filled by Brooks, Taylor or Immanuel Morales.
Gatesville brings a 6-1 record to Glen Rose on Friday. The Hornets come in following a 46-7 thrashing of Hillsboro and, like the Tigers, are 2-0 in District 7-3A. Kickoff at Tiger Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.