— By GREG WEBB
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS — In its first offensive series Friday at Birdville’s Fine Arts-Athletic Complex, the Weatherford Kangaroos showed promise, gaining 12 yards and a first down on a throw from WHS’ starting quarterback Grant Werts to fleet slot receiver Fred Brownlee.
After the next three plays left the Roos short by three at mid-field, Weatherford punted, and so started up the Richland whirlwind, which eventually resulted in a WHS 46-14 loss.
The much-ballyhooed opener for Weatherford was a disappointment for the Roos, and no more so than their head coach.
“We just didn’t play very well,” said head coach Weldon Nelms. “I think this is a much better team than the performance we put out here tonight.
We didn’t tackle or block very well, so it goes back to fundamentals.”
The Rebels’ first play from scrimmage was indicative of the kind of night in store for the Roos, with Richland quarterback Brandon Maines connecting with receiver Adrien Itoka for a 21-yard reception.
Maines threw for chunks of yardage on the drive, completing tosses of 15, 20 and 16 yards, the latter a scoring strike to running back CJ Hicks, which began the scoring for the Rebels. The Richland quarterback found open receivers through most of the contest, connecting for 11 of 13 attempts for more than 190 yards and two scores.
Weatherford’s answering possession began well, with senior quarterback Jason Werts keeping the ball for a 16-yard scamper. The momentum did not last for the Roos, forced to punt after a subsequent three downs.
“I thought we had pretty good momentum building in that first drive,” Nelms said. “And in the first half we had a handful of drives that we had fourth-and-short and just couldn’t quite get over the hump.
“Then we had the turnover and it just got away from us after that.”
Richland’s only turnover of the night came via a fumble, giving WHS good field position, but the prosperity was short-lived, with Richland picking off the first of three interceptions.
The Rebels’ offense scored on its next three possessions, and led 26-0 going into the half.
The fourth quarter proved more fruitful for the Weatherford offense. Starting at its own 16-yard line, Werts went to the air, finding Roo receivers on three consecutive pass plays, netting nearly 45 yards.
On a third-and-seven later in the drive, Werts again found his target, hitting Chris Whitling for 28 yards to set up a first-and-goal. When it appeared the penetration would stall from 15 yards out, Fred Brownlee located a crease in the Richland defense and put Weatherford on the board.
The Roos scored again with the game clock expired, when Werts found Logan Guest on a crossing pattern. Guest outran the Rebels defenders to the end zone.
Though expressing disappointment for the outcome, Nelms was resolute about the work needed before Weatherford take the field again on Friday, when the Roos will host Cleburne in the home opener.
“We have a few kids that were dinged up, and that didn’t help, but there are no excuses. We have to get back to work and get better,” Nelms said. “There are a lot of people who were excited about this game, and I was, too. I really felt like we could get in this game and compete well, but we just didn’t get it done.
“There’s no quit in us, so we’ll get back to work on Monday.”
Richland 46, Weatherford 14
WHS 0 0 0 14 — 14
RHS 6 20 13 7 — 46
RHS - CJ Hicks 16 pass from Brandon Maine (kick failed) .
RHS - Maine 2-yard run (kick failed)
RHS - Deandre Clark 16 run (Jacob Kovach kick)
RHS - Adrien Itoka 30 pass from Maine (Kovach kick)
RHS - Hayden Davidson 84 run (Kovach kick)
RHS - Stephon Jackson 1 run (kick failed)
RHS - Eddie Thomas 3 run (Kovach kick)
WHS - Fred Brownlee 15 run (Trey Rich kick)
WHS - Logan Guest 42 pass from Grant Werts (Rich kick)
Team Stats: WHS RHS
First downs 10 22
Rushes/Yds 29/122 42/385
Passing yards 168 191
Total yards 290 576
Comp-Att-Int 10-22-3 11-15-0
Punts/Avg. 7/ 31.6 2/ 32.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-1
Penalties-yards 8-65 14-88
Rushing: WHS - Fred Brownlee 5- 53;
Jeuqwan Brownlee 11-34; Grant Werts 12-33. RHS - Stephon Jackson 14- 136; Hayden Davidson 2-105; CJ Hicks 11-87.
Passing: WHS - Grant Werts 10-22,168; RHS - Brandon Maine 11-13,191.
Receiving: WHS - Chris Whitling 4 -81; Fred Brownlee 4 -33; Logan Guest 1- 42. RHS - Adrien Itoka 4-108; Edward McDougall 1 -27.