A fan arriving at Roo Stadium at halftime on Friday would surely have wondered how the Weatherford Kangaroos ended up on the short end of the victory stick, based on their play in the final two quarters. A peak at the first four minutes of the game reveals the whole unfortunate outcome, as the WHS boys fought back, but could not surmount the early special teams miscues, followed by another after Weatherford pulled to within a touchdown.
Despite the determined Roos team who took the field in the second half, Weatherford fell to the Richland Rebels, 35-21, in a season and home-opening contest on Friday.
Twice in the fourth quarter, Weatherford pulled back to within a touchdown and extra point, only to see Richland widen the margin again, one of the scores coming at the expense of special teams again.
Despite the loss, Weatherford head coach Reid Waller was upbeat about the Roo efforts.
“Sure, we had those three special teams errors that ended up costing us the game,” he said, “but the way the kids came back and fought as hard as they did to get back in it, I think we have a better team here than I thought we did.”
Weatherford junior quarterback Grant Wertz led the Roo surge in the third quarter, and kept the Roos driving for the balance of the game.
A stalled drive on a fumble in the third period halted the momentum temporarily, but the WHS defense, who faltered but once in the second half, quickly forced Richland to punt and Wertz went to work again.
With designed runs and impromptu scrambles, the Roo signal caller piled up 62 yards on the night and scored two Weatherford touchdowns with runs of two and six yards.
Running back Logan Guest had the other score for Weatherford, breaking off right tackle for a five-yard jaunt in the final quarter.
The Roos appear to have found themselves a staple receiver in Tony Rodriguez. The junior caught eight passes (six from Wertz and two from Colton Mallory) and totalled 78 yards.
The Wertz-to-Rodriguez connections were instrumental in keeping a couple of drives alive whrn the Roos were facing long-yardage situations.
The bad start to the game came on a wild snap which sailed over the Weatherford punter’s head and into the end zone. The punt on WHS’ next possession was run back for a TD by Richland’s Kumani Armstead.
Weatherford will travel to Cleburne next Friday, aspiring to minimize the lapses while capitalizing on their most recent second-half momentum.
RHS 14 7 0 14 — 35
WHS 0 0 8 13 — 21
RHS - Hayden Davis 1 fumble return (Morgan Pendleton kick)
RHS - Kumani Armstead 50 punt return (Pendleton kick)
RHS - Brandon Maine 25 pass to Adrien Itoka (Pendleton kick)
WHS - Grant Wertz 2 run (Wertz run)
WHS - Logan Guest 5 run (kick failed)
RHS - Itoka 97 kickoff return (Pendleton kick)
WHS - Wertz 6 run (Trey Rich kick)
RHS - KT Richardson 30 run (Pendleton kick)
Team stats: RHS WHS
First downs 10 13
Rushes-yds 19-108 39-132
Pass yds 66 116
Comp-att-int 6-15-0 13-25-2
Punts 4-35.6 5-30.2
Fumbles-lost 1-0 4-2
Penalties-yds 10-94 11-80
Rushing: RHS - Ken’Travious Richardson 8-75, Cameron Worthy 7-31; WHS - Grant Wertz 17-62, Fred Brownlee 4-33, Logan Guest 3-17, Chris Whitling 3-10.
Passing: RHS - Brandon Maine 6-15-0-1, 66;
WHS - Grant Wertz 11-20-1-0, 107.
Receiving: RHS - Jordan Whitfield 4-38, Adrien Itoka 1-25; WHS - Tony Rodriguez 8-78, Fred Brownlee 2-29.