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Leaving a Legacy: Rangers Overthrow Defending State Champs

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Leaving a Legacy: Rangers Overthrow Defending State Champs

The Jesuit Rangers made Texas football history on Friday the 22nd as they booted the Longview Lobos, defending state champions, from the Division II-6A playoffs. Fighting hard through all four quarters, the team secured a 14 point lead to start the game. They maintained the point advantage to finish the game with a 27-25 lead. Ranked No. 23 in the nation and No. 3 in the state, Longview faced bewilderment at their early defeat. This, perhaps, marks the greatest victory in the history of Jesuit football. 

Despite the lengthy commute, swarms of Jesuit fans lined the bleachers for the crucial playoff game. The incredible turnout was a proud representation of the community’s immense faith in the team. Kincaide Stadium nearly imploded following the Ranger victory. Many Texas football media outlets are labeling this “The Upset of the Year.” Adult fans and students alike stormed the field in waves. The charge was led by Zach Alcantar ‘20, Jack Snider ‘20, and George Dormer ‘20. “Meeting our buddies on the field is something I’ll remember forever,” said Zach, “and getting to cheer with our brothers was a special moment for the entire fanbase!”

Special Teams:

Preparing for high-caliber opponents like Longview, the Rangers understood the critical role of special teams in securing advantageous ball placement for the defense, as well as clenching additional yards on returns to improve offensive field position. Parker Brown ‘21 punted the ball three times for a 31-yard average. Spicer returned four kicks for nearly a hundred yards. The intense preparation repaid the team ten-fold. An incredible extra point block by Jhalen Spicer ‘20 forced the Lobos to push for two-point conversions. This added pressure hampered the Lobos momentum throughout the game. Their inability to complete a conversion on the Jesuit defense in the second half resulted in the minor score deficit that granted Jesuit the win.

Offense:

The offensive unit proved a force to be reckoned with, putting up 14 unanswered points in the first quarter. The Ranger offense relied heavily on their dominant run game, with EJ Smith ‘20, Jake Taylor ‘21, and even quarterback Rance Holman ’20 contributing to the 213 total rushing yards. EJ told us, “As long as we all do our part, we’ll continue to drive against any defense.” Smith, himself accounting for 165 of those yards, also scored all four of the team’s touchdowns, keeping the Lobos on their toes. Jake Taylor ‘21 noted, “The relentless run game also opened up some crucial passing opportunities. The receiving core took full advantage of these chances, especially in the fourth quarter.”

That they did, as the offense charged down the field during a 16-play final drive to run the remaining 8:28 off the clock. The nail-biting drive featured a third-and-six first down conversion by Allocco, as well as two consecutive fourth-down conversions by Wyatt Garrett ‘20, the latter of which secured the Ranger victory. Despite the intense pressure of the final moments, the offense maintained extreme focus. Garrett noted, “I was so focused on executing plays that I forgot it was fourth down when I caught the ball.” The flawless trio of throws by Holman contributed to his 145 passing yards, while the duration of the final drive finalized the 28:15-19:41 time of possession advantage. “What can I say, the game was comp,” said Allocco.

With less than two minutes to go, the Jesuit sideline erupted upon the realization that Longview had no timeouts remaining. The incredible final stand of the offense reflected the competitive spirit of all three phases of the ball. “While Longview was a challenging opponent, we made the right plays when they counted the most,” commented David Morales ‘20.

Defense:

The Jesuit defense expected a dog fight and received nothing short of one. An exceptional interception by Spicer bolstered defensive momentum in the first quarter. The Rangers held Longview to a mere 13 points by halftime. “Get out of our swamp” he demanded, wielding the mighty Shrek mask as a sign of intimidation. 

In the second half, the defense refused to let the Lobos make up for the previously blocked extra point, denying two attempts at a two-point conversion. The second, occurring on the final offensive drive for Longview, was shut down by Ethan Lane ‘20 at the goal line. The rest of the defense rallied behind to push the Lobos away from the endzone. The stop was a great source of energy for the team. Heading towards the endgame, the stop fueled offensive aggression during their final drive. Ethan told us, “After the stop, you could just feel the air leave the Lobos as if they knew it was their game to lose.”

The outstanding performance by the Jesuit defense held the Lobos to under 300 total yards as opposed to their 462-yard season average. They also failed to reach close to their usual 45 points. Robert Fitzgerald ‘22 led the team with 11 tackles. Spicer, Lane, Tommy Roy ‘20, and Jack ‘Pig Boy’ Barton ‘20 each secured a solid six. “Our performance was a fantastic example of the team effort,” said Jack, “the entire defense seemed to converge on every tackle.”

Conclusion:

Every Ranger in Dallas felt the shock of excitement following the win. The magnificent student crowd raced across the field to rally behind the team. Macon Rutledge ‘20 noted, “We were all so happy for the guys and very proud to be part of the community!” The cheer team as well enjoyed probably the most fan-participative game of the year. Captain Kaitlin Wagner ‘20 told us, “It isn’t hard to get the crowd involved when you’re beating a top-ranked team in the nation.” Fans listening in on the radio also went wild, and Jesuit football veterans too reached out to congratulate the team. The Rangers also heard from fellow teammates that couldn’t make it to the game. “Battling injury at home, I teared up as Coach Hickman donned the glorious Shrek mask,” said Will ‘Gerdutte’ Garoutte ‘20.

While the players relish in the legendary win, the team also recognizes the challenges ahead. Rance Holman explained, “I Love these guys. This is a special group and it showed tonight with a program defining win. That being said, we have an even bigger game this Friday at Mclane Stadium. “Approaching the regional quarterfinals, the Rangers take on Klein Collins, determined to make the farthest playoff run in the school’s history. Meet the Rangers this Friday as they battle the Tigers at 7:30 pm at Baylor! #JezNation #Beat the Tigers #Geese