CLEBURNE — For a second week, the Weatherford Kangaroos have experienced a half-time gut check, and made games interesting into the fourth quarter. As was the case in the prior week, the Roos took a 21-point deficit into the locker room in a non-district contest against the Cleburne Yellow Jackets on Friday at “The Rock.”
Also for a second-straight Friday, the Roos battled back into contention.
“I told the guys at halftime that we could win this game,” said Weatherford head coach Reid Waller. “I’m not sure they believed me, but went back out and fought back.”
The effort proved effective in the fourth quarter, when junior quarterback Grant Werts hit wideout Jonathan Weger with a 16-yard strike that, with the conversion on Werts run, pulled the Roos to within eight points with 8:49 to go in the final period.
Inopportune turnovers and late, and very big runs by the Yellow Jackets’ Kibo Grant settled the matter as the fourth quarter bled away. Grant had a career night, rushing for more than 270 yards and scoring five rushing touchdowns.
The big plays have been the bane of the Weatherford defense in its first two outings, though the Roo offense remains to show signs of a potent reckoning.
Totalling more than 300 yards of total offense, Weatherford produced an even distribution of the air and ground progress. Werts completed 60 percent of his throws to four different receivers for 156 yards.
Weatherford struck first in the match, driving 48 yards in eight plays, culminating with Werts’ 7-yard keeper for the score. A 27-yard Werts-to-Tony Rodriguez connection proved the big play of the drive.
The crowd-pleaser of the night for Roo fans came in the third quarter when fleet slotback Fred Brownlee, a junior, took a Cleburne kickoff at the Roo 13-yard line and went the distance, doing a good job of reversing direction and setting up his blockers.
After Cleburne answered in the next series, albeit without a successful point after, the Yellow Jackets’ RB Grant got busy in the second period as the home team put up 22 points in the quarter.
A late score by Cleburne produced the matching deficit of last week’s game, as Jackets QB Quade Coward found Grant on a 35-yard strike with a second remaining in the half.
“We have to get better on defense,” Waller said of the big plays that have plagued the Roos for the past couple of seasons.
The Roos return home on Friday to host its final pre-district game. The Burleson Elks, also looking for its first win, will take on the Roos at 7:30 p.m.
Cleburne 52, Weatherford 30
WHS 7 0 7 16 — 30
CHS 6 22 10 14 — 52
WHS - Grant Werts 7 run (Trey Rich kick)
CHS - Khalil Hall 2 run (kick failed)
CHS - Kibo Grant 1 run (D.D. Pollard run)
CHS - Grant 57 run (Matt Mahan kick)
CHS - Quade Coward 35 pass to Grant (Mahan kick)
CHS - Mahan 22 field goal
WHS - Fred Brownlee 87 kickoff return (Rich kick)
CHS - Grant 31 run (Mahan kick)
WHS - Werts 5 run (Chris Whitling run)
WHS - Werts 16 pass to Jonathan Weger (Werts run)
CHS - Grant 13 run (Mahan kick)
CHS - Grant 60 run (Mahan kick)
Team stats: WHS CHS
First downs 17 23
Rushes-yards 45-153 27-360
Passing yards 156 186
Comp-att-int 15-25-0 16-25-0
Punts-avg 6-33.0 3-32
Fumbles-lost 4-2 3-3
Penalties-yards 8-63 8-93
Rushing: WHS - Werts 13-47, Brownlee 12-32, Whitling 3-28, Logan Guest 7-27; CHS - Grant 13-271, Coward 6-59.
Passing: WHS - Werts 15-25-0-2/156; CHS - Coward - 16-25-0-2/186.
Receiving: WHS - Tony Rodriguez 3-60, Whitling 3-35; CHS - Grant 2-45, Khalil Hall 6-39, Tucker Nolen 2-29, Al Baylor 2-28, Pollard 2-24.