EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
AUSTIN — Austin Crockett quarterback Ryan Waugh’s face said it all as he knelt on the Burnet sidelines after getting tackled and sliding out of bounds. It was as if he was thinking, “How did it come to this?”
“This” being a Burnet Bulldogs comeback led by a group of gritty seniors who played Iron Man football the entire fourth quarter and refusing to come off the field.
“We just weren’t going to lose,” Bulldogs senior Ian Carter said.
And the Bulldogs didn’t despite falling behind 26-13 in the third quarter, scrapping back to cut the Crockett lead to 26-25, only to see the Cougars jump out to a 32-25 lead on a 77-yard touchdown pass with 6:34 left in the game.
It seemed like a back-breaking moment, but the Bulldogs knuckled down on the next drive. With 6:33 showing on the clock, Burnet started on its own 40-yard line and began working its way downfield.
The Bulldogs edged their way to about Crockett’s 20-yard line but found themselves facing a fourth-and-one situation. Sophomore quarterback Chandler Galban pushed ahead for a first down. Three plays later, he hit Ryan Jackson to his right for an 11-yard touchdown with 1:10 left in the game.
But the Bulldogs still trailed, 32-31, and extra points — whether kicked or two-point conversions — weren’t a guarantee.
The Burnet coaches called for a two-point attempt. This time, Chandler Galban took the snap, looked to his left, and hit Blaine Burkhalter for the score, a 33-32 lead, and eventually the win. The victory improves the Bulldogs to 3-1.
“Last week, we had a tough loss to Fredericksburg,” Carter said. “This week, we came out to show our fans we were going to make a statement. We took the lead early, but then we, you know, we struggled, things weren’t working out, but we kept working, we kept playing.”
The Bulldogs took the lead on a 75-yard Chandler Galban-to-Blaine Burkhalter touchdown pass.
Crockett then scored three unanswered touchdowns to take an 18-7 lead. The Bulldogs cut into the lead, again on another Galban-Burkhalter touchdown pass.
The Cougars responded with a 45-yard Waugh-to-Mekhi Ball touchdown pass.
The Bulldogs defense came up with key plays, including forcing two fumbles late in the game that gave their offense short fields to work with. And the Bulldog offense took advantage of those turnovers.
The Cougars got one last chance to get back on the winning side of the game with 1:04 left in the game after the Bulldogs went ahead, but the Burnet defense wouldn’t give an inch. The Cougars’ hopes of a made-for-movie comeback ended after one more fumble put the ball right back in the hands of the Bulldogs.
Jones praised his team for their effort.
“Our kids just kind of believed down the stretch,” he said. “As a young team, when you’re trying to grow up, I guess in this kind of situation you need also to fight through some of this controversy and fight back and win one in the end. Super proud of our kids for doing that.”
Carpenter said it was an entire team effort.
“I just want to congratulate my team for believing we could do it, and we did,” he said. “But we’re not done yet. We’re going to keep working and getting better. We still have a statement to make.”
The Bulldogs host the Llano Yellow Jackets on Friday, Sept. 30, with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Listen to the game on KMPN 95.9 FM or at KBEYFM.com starting with a 7 p.m. pregame show.