COPPERAS COVE - It wasn’t the state championship ending that the Glen Rose Tiger football team had hoped for at the start of the season.
Instead, the Tigers’ football season came to an abrupt end at the hands of the Llano Yellow Jackets, 33-21, in the Bi-District round of the Class 3A Division II state playoffs last Friday.
“I know we’re all disappointed right now,” said Glen Rose Head Coach Tommy Dunn. “But, we went into the season wanting to play hard and to learn, and we never gave up at any point in the season. We have a lot of players coming back, and, of course, we hate to see the seniors go, but I’m not at all disappointed in the season.”
The Tigers struggled offensively in the early going, as they failed to put a point on the board in the first half.
The lack of offensive firepower was in large part to a strong Llano run defense and a strong wind, which forced Glen Rose to stay on the ground.
“(The wind) was probably more of a psychological effect, than anything,” said Dunn. “When we decided to throw the ball, it didn’t really effect us much. We just had to deal with it.”
The Tiger defense was able to match the score by posting a goose egg of their own in the first quarter, but eventually the Llano rushing attack just wore down the Glen Rose D.
“We knew they would control the clock and the ball, and they did. They had 91 offensive snaps,” said Dunn. “It was frustrating because they just kept getting three and four yards here and there. We had a good game plan, we just couldn’t come up with stops.”
Llano punched in their first score of the game from 20 yards out, then following a recovered kickoff, punched it in again from three yards deep.
The Jackets would later add an 18-yard touchdown toss before the halftime break to make the score 19-0.
“We stopped the trap stuff,” said defensive coordinator Todd Swearengin. “The interior line played very well, but Llano just chewed away at us. We were at the right place, but they just got to us.”
Following the break, things seemed to be looking up for Glen Rose.
Linebacker Ryan Rathke forced a fumble on Llano’s opening possession of the second half.
Quarterback Derek Thompson and the offense used four plays to put their first points on the boards. After three straight completions, Thompson scored on the three-yard QB keeper, but the extra point was no good, bringing the score to 19-6.
After another Llano score and two-point conversion, Glen Rose drove down the field and found thee end zone on a four-yard toss from Thompson to Jorge Espino.
But Llano just kept pounding the ball, and added their final six points on a five-yard scamper.
The Tigers responded with a 47-yard bomb from Thompson to Austin Eschbach for the final touchdown of the season.
Thompson finished the contest 14-24 for 227 yards and two scores through the air, and led the Tigers with 76 yards on 11 carries and a score on the ground.
Eschbach was Thompson’s main target as he hauled in six passes for 101 yards.
Thompson finished the season 180-302 for 2,619 yards and 26 touchdowns, while Chase Evatt tallied 633 yards on 125 carries and 10 scores.
Ty Taylor cracked the 1,000 yard mark receiving, with 1,094 yards on 66 catches and 10 scores.
On the defensive side of the ball, Chris Griggers, Ivan Funez, Seth Mann and Jake Powell finished the contest with double digit tackles at 21, 14, 19 and 23, respectively.
The Tiger season defensive leaders were Powell and Griggers with 131 and 116 tackles, while the Tiger safeties Immanuel Morales and Shelby Junge led the way with seven and three interceptions.
The Tigers have a week off before beginning their off-season program.