STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
The Jackets defeated Austin Eastside Memorial 49-13 on homecoming.
It could’ve been by more, but the Yellow Jackets (3-3, 0-0 District 13-4A Division II) suffered a total of nine turnovers in the contest.
“I will say this,” Llano head coach Matt Green said, ” a win is a win is a win. It’s been awhile since we’ve been 3-3 through six games.”
The first touchdown was actually made before the game even began. In an orchestrated play between both squads, Llano student Mitch Dunn, who is in a wheelchair, scored a touchdown from 35 yards out.
The points didn’t count, but the experience for Dunn will be lasting. The idea, which was cleared by both the Llano Independent School District and Eastside Memorial head coach Darrell Crayton, came from Llano’s team captains, who wanted to help Dunn achieve the goal of playing beneath the Friday night lights. (Read the full story in the Oct. 11 edition of The Picayune.)
“You always feel good when things like that happen,” Green said. “You feel like your community is blessed, and you have a small part. I’m proud it happened and just blessed.”
After pulling out to a 22-6 lead at the half, Llano began the third quarter with back-to-back touchdowns. The first was by sophomore quarterback Cade Fly on an 8-yard run. The second was by senior running back Ben Walling on a 1-yard dive to give Llano a 35-6 advantage.
Eastside (0-4) answered one of those scores when sophomore Roberto Perez scampered 66 yards to paydirt to trim the deficit to 35-13.
Just before the third quarter ended, Llano senior running back Mason Brooks ran 60 yards to the end zone to give the Jackets a 42-13 lead.
Fly began the final quarter by finding receiver Aaron Brown on an 8-yard touchdown pass for a 49-13 advantage, which would end the scoring.
Llano had 485 yards of total offense, all unofficial.
Fly completed nine of 18 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown and had four carries for 48 yards and two touchdowns, all unofficial.
“(Eastside) stacked seven in the box,” Fly said. “The past few games, we started real slow. We came out after the half and started playing real well.”
Though the Jackets unofficially racked up 256 yards of total offense in the first half, it was plagued with seven turnovers in the first two quarters.
Still, the Llano defense responded by limiting the Panthers to minus 26 yards of total offense and recovered one fumble in the first half.
Llano began the game by fumbling on its first offensive possession as it was trying to run in for a touchdown then fumbled on two punt returns.
Eastside scored the game’s opening points when senior defensive back William Norwood returned an interception about 49 yards. The extra point was blocked, but the Panthers led 6-0.
Fly only needed two plays to respond on the next drive. Senior running back Ben Walling ran 35 yards then Fly scored on the next play when he kept the ball on a zone read that went for 26 yards. Senior kicker Diego Garcia added the extra point for a 7-6 lead with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Eastside had a high snap that went out of the end zone for a safety to give the Jackets a 9-6 advantage with 30 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Brooks scored two rushing touchdowns in the second quarter: a 74-yarder and a 10-yarder. Llano led 22-6 at the half.
Green said he never experienced a game like the one he coached in his 17-year career. He said he emphasized to his players at intermission the importance of a more business-like approach in the second half and was pleased to see them respond.
“Nobody else talked,” he said of the halftime address. “You could’ve heard a pin drop.”
Brooks finished with 192 yards on nine carries, all unofficial.
He credited his blockers for his great night, noting all he had to do was read them.
“I followed my blockers,” Brooks said. “They lead me to where I want to go.”
He was happy to get a home win.
“Especially at homecoming, it was a great feeling,” he said. “Great crowd. We loved it.”
The Yellow Jackets begin District 13-4A Division II play on Oct. 13 on the road against Navarro. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.