Defense, late touchdown keep Tompkins undefeated
On a night dominated by defense, the decisive play was momentarily in the hands of a defensive player. A tipped pass turned into a fourth-quarter touchdown for senior receiver Ryan Schmidt, lifting undefeated Tompkins to a 15-10 victory against Seven Lakes, Sept. 28 at Legacy Stadium.
Opening night in District 19-6A included a tense meeting of rivals, both bringing non-district success into the game. Tompkins, which impressively cruised to a 204-48 margin during their first four games after a winless season, found itself locked in a tight contest against a familiar foe.
The result left the Falcons 5-0 for the first time in school history, already two games better than their previous season high in wins.
“These are the games you want to be in,” Tompkins coach Todd McVey said. “You’re hoping that the kids get to see four quarters from somebody different. Going into halftime we talked about coming out and playing four quarters. That’s a good learning environment for them against a really good football team over there.”
Neither team could manage 200 yards offensively, due in part to physical play on both sides and effective scouting. Special teams played a key part, with the first nine points scored on field goals and punt coverage setting up a key score for Tompkins.
Seven Lakes had a touchdown pass erased by a penalty on its opening drive but managed a field goal as Austin Angelo connected from 33 yards.
That was the only scoring until Jacinto Esteban tied the game early in the second quarter with a 45-yard boot.
The Falcons took the lead with a different kicker, this time sending out left-footed kickoff specialist Pablo Garcia for a 47-yard try, which split the uprights with 2:35 left in the halft.
Tompkins appeared poised to take the lead into halftime after an interception by defensive back/punter Pryce Powell at the two-yard line. But Seven Lakes forced a fumble on the next play and took a 10-6 lead with 52 seconds left as Michael Batton rushed in from five yards out.
But the Spartans could not crack the scoreboard the rest of the night as Tompkins continued to lock down on defense, including two interceptions by Colby Huerter.
“We knew they weren’t going to run on us, so we had to stop the pass,” senior defensive tackle Olawatunmise Adeleye said. “As a defense, as a team we did that effectively and it helped us win. Everybody runs the ball. That’s it. If you can get one person there, you can strip the ball out. It’s a team effort. If you can people to the ball it frustrates the offense.”
Adeleye came up with several big plays up front, including a safety that brought Tompkins within 10-8 in the third quarter. The play was set up when Powell’s punt was downed at the Seven Lakes one-yard line.
Tompkins could not take advantage of field position, with key tackles for loss Daniel North and Henry Okeke turning the Falcons away on separate drives.
But given one more start in Seven Lakes territory, Tompkins capitalized. Jalen Milroe dropped back on the first play and heaved the ball in the direction of Schmidt, who caught a deflected ball for a 43-yard touchdown with 10:48 remaining.
Schmidt said he was not the first option on the play.
“It’s really not about me,” Schmidt said. “Everybody ran their routes full speed. The safeties rolled down. That play wasn’t for me. It takes all 11 of us. But everybody runs full speed to the ball and somebody’s going to get open.”
Seven Lakes fell to 3-2 overall and will face Katy Taylor on Oct. 5 at Legacy Stadium. The Mustangs open their 19-6A schedule tonight against Morton Ranch at Legacy.
Tompkins will put its perfect record on the line against nine-time defending district champion Katy, which took a 3-1 record into its bye week.
PAETOW EARNS FIRST DISTRICT WIN
The varsity firsts keep adding up for Paetow, which is now 3-1 in its inaugural season after its first district victory.
The Panthers defeated Cleveland 13-6 on the road to begin District 10-5A Division II play. Both teams scored early and never reached the end zone again, with Paetow holding a 7-6 lead after the first quarter.
Isaac Jimenez came through with field goals in the second and fourth quarters, while the Paetow defense continued its strong play by holding its second opponent this month to seven points or less.
Paetow has won three straight, closing non-district play by defeating Northbrook 24-7 and Clements 30-28. The Panthers took their bye week last week.
It will be a clash of first-year varsity teams Oct. 6 at Legacy Stadium as the Panthers continue district action against Montgomery Lake Creek. The Lions fell to 0-4 with a 65-21 loss to Lamar Consolidated.
CINCO RANCH HOLDS OFF MAYDE CREEK
The records might have been deceptive, as winless Cinco Ranch entered its District 19-6A opener against a Mayde Creek team on a three-game winning streak. But the Cougars continued their head-to-head success against the Rams with a 44-28 triumph.
Cinco Ranch improved to 1-4 overall, finishing strong with two fourth-quarter touchdowns after the Rams scored four unanswered touchdowns to pull within 30-28.
Quarterback Cameron Harper carried 21 times for a career-high 211 yards and four touchdowns, including a 63-yard run for a 30-0 lead in the third quarter and 26-yarder with 4:06 remaining to put the game away.
Linebacker David Gbenda got Cinco Ranch started offensively, scoring on short runs for a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Zach Gonzales added a 30-yard field goal just before halftime.
The Cougars were able to keep in check the leading offense in district, holding Mayde Creek to 261 yards. Jacoby Wilson accounted for 209 yards and three touchdowns, including a 51-yard pass to Jalon Strong to cut the Cougars’ large lead to two points.
Daniel Huery led all receivers with seven catches for 86 yards, adding a touchdown run to put the Rams on the board in the third quarter. Mayde Creek takes a 3-2 record into its bye week.
Cinco Ranch meets Morton Ranch on Oct. 6 at Rhodes Stadium.