WOLFFORTH — Randall quarterback Collin Bowen could end up being the Most Valuable Player of District 3-4A, and nobody would have any arguments.
Fortunately for Frenship, he showed his value to the Raiders when he was knocked out with a possible broken collarbone late in the third quarter and the Raiders dominating the Tigers with an 11-point lead. Without him, however, the Raiders were not the same, and the Tigers took advantage.
Frenship defensive end Kyle Rutherford returned the third of backup quarterback Austin Castillo’s second-half fumbles for a 38-yard, go-ahead touchdown, and Randall kicker Brad Wilkerson missed a 29-yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining, allowing the Tigers to hang on for a 29-28 win and claim at least a share of the district crown Friday night at Peoples Bank Stadium.
“We’ve worked so hard this week and all the seniors deserve it,” the junior Rutherford said. “We knew we got an opportunity when (Bowen) went out. It was unfortunate that he had to be hurt. But we had to turn it up defensively, and we weren’t going out without a gold ball on senior night.”
The win marks almost a complete turnaround for the Tigers (9-0, 6-0 in 3-4A) after their playoff absence a year ago. But for the first 21/2 quarter, it looked as though the Raiders (8-1, 5-1) would be the ones walking off with the hardware.
Frenship stayed within striking distance in the first half thanks to big plays, a 41-yard touchdown run by Bobby Huey and a 45-yard touchdown catch by fullback Troy Gonzales. Otherwise, the Raiders turned the Tigers back at every turn, limiting them to 282 yards of total offense. Frenship ran just 7 plays and gained 9 yards in the third quarter alone.
Bowen torched the Tigers defense for 154 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, and coupled with running back Tyler Junell, who had 127 yards, the Raiders had the Frenship defense on its heels the whole night.
But Bowen was hit as he threw a pass late in the third quarter and the Raiders up 28-17 and driving, with Frenship showing no signs of being able to stop him. He spent the rest of the game out of uniform with his right arm in a sling.
“If Bowen doesn’t get hurt right there we don’t win this football game,” Tigers coach Brad Davis said. “I really feel that way. He was the difference maker in the game and when he went down it kind of equalized things. We felt very fortunate to win this game.”
Bowen’s replacement, the senior Castillo, had trouble not only fielding the snap but holding on to the ball when he did. His first fumble ended that Randall drive, and his next one set up the first of the Tigers’ two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
“I think we played good enough to win,” said Randall coach Bryan Wood, whose team torched a Tigers defense that had allowed just 247 yards per game for 413 yards. “We had some injuries and some penalties and two key turnovers. We said that’s what it would come down to, and it did.”
Frenship made it 28-23 when Chad Quisenberry outlept a defender in the corner of the end zone for a jump-ball 15-yard touchdown. Davis elected to go for two and try to cut the lead to three, but the pass from Tucker Tuberville failed, leaving the Tigers down five, which would prove crucial later.
“When (Bowen) got hurt we had the momentum and we knew they would have to change their game plan a bit,” Quisenberry said. “I think it took a toll on them. They were pretty down and it changed their attitude quite a bit.”
With the momentum starting to swing in favor of the Tigers, Randall had a chance to calm things down. Again, however, Castillo had trouble with the ball. He was popped trying to go up the middle, and the ball popped into the air and straight to Rutherford, who broke into the open field for the fumble return. Davis again tried to go for two but failed, leaving the Tigers with a one-point lead.
“At the time we weren’t moving the ball on a consistent basis down the field and I felt we needed to get within field goal range of them,” Davis said. “Who would have expected us to return a fumble for a touchdown?”
Just as quickly, though, the Raiders began to regain confidence as Castillo led them down the field, converting a third-and-10 with the help of a pass interference penalty and a fourth-and-1 from the Frenship 25.
With time winding down and still too far to go for a touchdown, Randall began to set up for the field goal. The kick appeared good but went just wide right of the goalpost, sending the Tigers into unlimited celebration.
“It’s fantastic,” Davis said. “To be where we are now at 9-0 and the district champs and to play to be undefeated for the season, I’ll tell you, it’s a credit to the kids and the coaching staff. They’ve worked, I can’t tell you how hard, since December just for this moment right here. We’re enjoying it and it’s everything it’s built up to be, I guarantee you that.”
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FRENSHIP 29, RANDALL 28
Randall 7 14 7 0 — 28
Frenship 7 10 0 12 — 29
RAN—J.D. Allen 2 run (Brad Wilkerson kick); 1:27.
FRE—Bobby Huey 41 run (Josh Sparkman kick); :21
RAN—Logan Brittain 32 pass from Collin Bowen (Wilkerson kick); 10:56
RAN—Bowen 4 run (Wilkerson kick); 5:45
FRE—Troy Gonzales 45 pass from Tuberville (Sparkman kick); 2:14
FRE—Sparkman 29 FG; :16
RAN—Allen 4 run (Wilkerson kick); 7:50
FRE—Chad Quisenberry 15 pass from Tuberville (pass failed); 8:36
FRE—Kyle Rutherford 38 fumble return (pass failed); 5:46
First downs 20 13
Rushes-yards 56-333 29-193
Passing yards 71 89
Comp.-att.-int. 3-6-0 4-15-2
Punts-avg. 1-42.0 2-34.5
Fumbles-lost 7-4 0-0
Penalties-yards 9-70 3-19
RUSHING: Randall, Collin Bowen 18-154, Tyler Junell 11-127, Ty Stewart 8-32, Austin Castillo 12-13, Logan Brittain 4-4, J.D. Allen 3-3; Frenship, Bobby Huey 16-154, D’Maujeric Tucker 4-19, Bryndan Arredondo 3-9, Tucker Tuberville 5-9, Keiondre Gober 1-2.
PASSING: Randall, Bowen 2-4-0—50, Castillo 1-2-0--21; Frenship, Tuberville 4-15-2—89.
RECEIVING: Randall, Brittain 2-50, Kyler Battin 1-21 ; Frenship, Troy Gonzales 1-45, Chad Quisenberry 2-27, Huey 1-13.