FORNEY, Texas — Jackrabbits started their season off with an impressive 42-21 win over the 6A Richardson Berkner High School Friday night.
The Jackrabbits lost to the Rams in the season opener just a year ago, but after an intense off-season program, the return of All-District quarterback Campbell Anderson, the help of a very talented sophomore class and improvements made by second year Head Coach Aaron Woods, the Jackrabbits seem set to make a lot of noise in District 8-5AII.
Berkner got the ball first, but were three-and-out with great defensive plays made by Westin Beeman, Dalbrett Ndzishangong, Keshon Johnson, Gavin West, and Greyson Burrus. Anderson found Sophomore Tight End Nick Newville open for a 32-yard pass completion, capped off by a 5-yard pass to Chase Berg for a touchdown. Extra point by Colby Ortega.
The Rams responded right back with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Vallejo.
Tied up at 7-7 in the first quarter, Anderson found Riley McMurren open for a 31-yard completion on a difficult back shoulder catch. Anderson ran the ball into the end zone making the score 14-7 after Ortega’s kick.
The teams exchanged several turnovers in the second quarter, most notably an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown by the Rams Safety, also their quarterback Milton Catalina. This knotted the score at 14 a piece.
At this point in the game, Coach Woods called the number of Sophomore running back Josh Stephens. Stephens had a couple of 30-plus yard receptions as well as several runs on the drive, before Anderson found Sophomore Tight End Newville once again — this time with a beautiful diving catch in the back of the end zone. This gave the Jackrabbit a 21-14 lead that they would keep for the rest of the game.
In the second half, defensive adjustments made by Defensive Coordinator Cameron Thompson stifled the Ram’s offense. Players like LB Tochi Anusiem, Zerek Waters, and Sophomore Defensive End Cooper Cutright came up big for the Jackrabbits including 3 turnovers on downs. A 33-yard catch by Braden Benjamin and an 11-yard touchdown run by Jaylin Phillips made the score 28-14. Anderson had a 25-yard touchdown run making it 35-14 in the 4th quarter. Dalbert Ndzishangong had a 17-yard run in which he carried 8 Ram defenders on his back, then punched it into the end zone from a yard out.
Jackrabbits finished the day with 458 total yards of offense. Senior Quarterback Campbell Anderson was 12 for 18 for 243 yards and 2 touchdowns passing, along with 7 carries for 56 yards and 2 touchdowns rushing. Jaylin Phillips had 17 carries for 85 yards and a TD, Stephens had 9 carries for 44 yards, move-in Tayton Auldridge had 5 carries for 11 yards, and Ndzishangong had 2 carries for 18 yards and a TD. Benjamin led the Jackrabbits in receiving with 5 catches for 88 yards. Stephens had 2 catches for 64 yards out of the backfield, Newville with 2 catches for 37 yards and a TD, Berg with 2 catches for 23 yards and a TD, and Riley McMurren with 1 catch for 31 yards.
Next week the Jackrabbits will take on the Lindale Eagles in the home opener at City Bank Stadium.
Tune in to the game on www.sportsgram.net and listen to Brandon, Nate and Ben bring you all of the action.