Fans of the Glen Rose Tigers have known for a while that the season finale against Alvarado is going to be a big game.
Now, the stakes are even higher.
Glen Rose (3-5, 1-2) will have to win its final two games of the season to have any chance at a playoff spot after a 23-6 loss to West (3-5, 3-0) at home Friday night.
“We have to win out and get some help,” said Glen Rose head coach Tommy Dunn. “Alvarado needs to lose to West for us to even have a chance. (West) definitely can beat Alvarado. They’re playing well and if they can limit their turnovers, they are big enough on defense to stop that run game.”
In addition to the must win scenario over the final two weeks, the Tigers will have to pull of the victories without starting quarterback Frank Brandenburg, who left Friday’s game in the third quarter.
“Frank, unfortunately, suffered an injury that was a lot worse than we thought at the time,” said Dunn. “He had about eight different breaks in his foot. He had surgery (Sunday) and they put in several plates and screws so needless to say, he’s out of commission for a while.
“The plan moving forward is to use Anders Dahl and Colton Bretton,” he continued. “We’re going to bring Colton up from the JV and he’ll be alright. He’s progressed well. He’s an intelligent kid with good height at 6-4 and he knows the offense real well.”
Glen Rose struggled on offense from the start against West.
“(Friday) our defense played very well,” he continued. “They only gave up 17 on the night and that should have been enough to win. It came down to not executing on offense. Basically, everything that could go wrong, did.”
The opening drive of the game consisted of seven plays that netted only three positive yards before the Tigers were forced to punt.
West took advantage with a 12-play, 52-yard drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal because the Tiger defense stood strong after Trojans reached their 8-yard line.
Of the opening 12 plays by West, seven were running plays. The Trojans are known primarily for their ability to move the ball through the air with quarterback Kolbey Carpenter and wide receiver Heath Harris.
“I don’t think they passed very much because our defense matched up well,” said Dunn. “They’re big up front and used that running game to put drives together and keep our defense on the field.”
The West field goal proved to be the only scoring of the opening half, as both defenses got the job done in different ways.
The Glen Rose defense forced West to punt the ball away on four of its five first-half possessions, while West took advantage of two Glen Rose turnovers.
“We had opportunities. It just seems like when we got those chances, we put the ball on the ground and they got it,” said Dunn.
West took the opening possession of the second half and appeared to be halted on the Tiger 40-yard line, but Harris executed a fake punt for a 17 yard gain on fourth-and-one.
West would go on to score the first touchdown of the game on a three-yard run by Harris, who lined up at quarterback in a “wildcat” formation.
West broke the game open on the ensuing possession when Tanner Tongate’s punt was returned 45 yards for a TD by Harris to make the score 17-0 with 7:07 left in the third quarter.
On the next Tiger possession, disaster struck for the Tigers’ offense.
Brandenburg hopped off the field with an apparent foot injury, leaving the Tiger offense with an inexperienced passer - Anders Dahl - under center.
The final dagger came with 1:03 left in the third quarter when the Tiger defense forced a fourth-and-seven from the Tiger 21-yard line.
Out of field-goal range, West decided to go for the conversion. Carpenter hit his receiver at the 2-yard line and he broke a tackle before going in for the back-breaking score.
With 8:19 left in the game and a three-score deficit looming, the Tigers’ Chase Evatt broke free for a 38-yard touchdown run.
Dahl was unable to break the plane on the 2-point conversion attempt, keeping the deficit at 23-6.
Neither team scored on its final possession.
On one second quarter carry, Blake Eschbach became the leading rusher for the Tigers.
Eschbach broke free on a 57-yard run from the Tiger four-yard line. Glen Rose reached the Trojan 23 before giving the ball away on a fumble.
Evatt racked up 55 yards on six carries, despite sitting most of the first half due to a nagging injury.
Through the air, Brandenburg was 2-10 for 13 yards before exiting the game. Dahl was 4-8 for 41 yards and an interception in relief.
For the first time all season and just the third time in two years, Kevin Brooks did not record a catch.
Justin Weatherly had five catches for 49 yards and Thomas Simpson hauled in a five-yard pass from Dahl on the second-to-last play of the game.
Glen Rose had just 208 yards of offense, with 154 coming on the ground.
Defensively for Glen Rose, Colin Lane and Cody Burtscher were the leading tacklers with nine each. Lane added three tackles for loss and Burtscher also had a pass breakup.
Defensive linemen Curry Mapes (7) and Curran Morrison (6) were the only other Tigers with more than five tackles.
West racked up 187 yards on 40 carries on the ground and went 10-18 passing for 118 yards.
The first of the ‘must win’ games for the Tigers comes Friday when they travel to Hillsboro for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
“They’ve struggled offensively this year, but as usual they have a lot of talent,” said Dunn. “They were able to put up 33 points on West and they’ve played pretty good defense all season. It’s going to take a good effort from us to win it.”
Glen Rose got the best of Hillsboro last season at Eagle Field, winning 31-0 in the regular-season finale.
Of the players left on the roster who played in that game, Burtscher ran the ball six times for 47 yards while Evatt ran for six yards on two carries.
Burtscher also had a six-yard touchdown reception.
Defensive end Morrison led the defense with 10 tackles including two for loss.
The Tigers will need a repeat performance from the veterans and the rest to keep their postseason hopes alive.
“It’s going to take a total team effort to win,” said Dunn. “We’ve relied on our seniors all year and that’s not going to change. We’re going to have to have guys step up, accept our losses and rally together.”
Eagle Field is located at 1180 S. Waco Drive, Hillsboro, Texas 76645.