Billies fall short in heart-wrenching roller coaster 21-20 loss to Wimberley
Fredericksburg High School football team kept every one of the 1,600 fans at Texan Stadium on the edge of their seats in a game that had as many highs and lows as the start of this COVID-19 Texas football season. The Billies lost 21-20 to Wimberley in front of a sellout crowd last Friday night.
Wimberley, who was the state runner up last year, and Fredericksburg, who had beaten their last three opponents by an average of 30 points, locked horns offensively and defensively all night long until Wimberley ran out the clock.
“I’ve never seen such tenacity and guts. You guys have got it all,” Geoffrey Huff, the Billies’ offensive coordinator told the team in the huddle on the field after the game.
Inside that huddle, there were not many dry eyes and coaches heaped on the praise.
“When you’ve got heart like that, which is what this team is defined by, then you’ve got a chance. They never quit on each other, and they never quit on their coaches,” said Head Coach Lance Moffett told the Standard-Radio Post after the game. “This is a great program. They played in the state finals. (Our players) understand that we can play with these people. We’re getting there. We’re one point away.”
Start of game
The game started in typical Fredericksburg fashion.
Kade Jenschke’s 83-yard kick return got the crowd to its feet and set up a four-play drive that ended in Cole Immel’s imitation of a billy goat as he butted his way into the endzone on a two-yard run. The point after kick by Manuel Noriega failed.
FHS led 6-0 two minutes into the game, which is what Billies fans have become accustomed to after the early leads in the Gonzales and Jarrell victories.
Fredericksburg’s defensive line forced the Texans to punt twice in the first quarter, while Immel led several offensive drives that were stymied by the Wimberley defense.
Cole Schroeder’s 72-yard reception from Matthew Tippie, the Burnet transplant, set up the Texans’ first score of the night, a one-yard keeper by Tippie. Jack Bruner’s point after attempt put Wimberley ahead, 7-6, at the end of the first quarter.
Wimberley scored with 57 seconds left in the second quarter, when Tippie found Jaxon Watts for a 25-yard touchdown. Bruner’s kick made the score 14-6 at the half.
The second half felt more like a chess match than a football game with quarterbacks trying to break through defensive lines by moving the ball down field using as many players as possible and coaches calling timeouts to stop the momentum of the game and to regroup.
“I’m really impressed with our coaching and our fight,” Moffett said. “I thought our coaches did a really good job of adjusting, both at halftime and in between the third and fourth quarters. I thought we made some really good adjustments. Our kids never quit and never gave up. They just kept fighting and fighting, and they kept believing.”
Even after the Texans got on the board two minutes into the third quarter with a 16-yard run by a speedy Juan Olmedo and a Bruner kick, which put the Texans ahead, 21-6. Still, Fredericksburg battled on.
“The defense rose up three times in the second half,” Moffett said. “They could have put their head down and let them score, but instead they made a defensive stand and stopped them.”
Kaleb Jacoby’s deflection of Wimberley’s 19-yard field goal attempt breathed new life into the team and crowd, which prompted Immel to drive an animated Fredericksburg team from the Billies’ 20-yard line to the Wimberley 35 to end the third quarter.
In the fourth, Immel picked up where he left off and capped off his effort by breaking three tackles for a 24-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion was no good, and the score was 21-12.
It helped that Fredericksburg’s defense became a brick wall, denying the Texan offense another score in the fourth quarter. They have been the only line to hold Wimberley to 21 points this season.
The Billies’ Angel Neri stopped another Tippie long drive when he intercepted a pass intended for Watts at the eight-yard line.
“It was one of the best plays I’ve seen a corner make this season,” said Moffett about the interception.
Long runs by Judson Beard got the Billies to the Wimberley 10-yard line and the field goal by Aaron Cordero-Rojas was blocked by the Texans.
The Billies scored the final time with two minutes left in the game when Tripp Dennis completed a 46-yard pass from Immel, which was followed by an Immel pass to Jenschke for two points, making the score 21-20.
With no timeouts left in the game, for either team, Tippie ran out the clock for the Wimberley victory.
“It was a tough game just like I expected. To be honest, we just made one more play than they did,” said Wimberley Head Coach Doug Warren. “Anytime it is a close one like that, it usually comes down to one or two plays.”
Moffett was pleased with his team’s effort, and saw much the team needed to improve upon.
“That’s all you want to do is in the fourth quarter, give yourself a chance to win the game that could have gone the other way,” he said. “I’m just proud that we finished the game right.”
He said, the game exposed the weakness in their extra point and field goal teams.
“First and foremost, we have got to fix the snap, hold and kick on our extra point and field goal teams,” he said. “Certainly, I never blame a loss on one field goal or one extra point, and, unfortunately, the nature of playing kicker or cornerback or offensive line is that when you make a mistake, everybody in the stadium knows that it’s you. It’s very tough to be that kid. Those kids have been really hard on themselves and they shouldn’t be, because it’s a process. There’s a snapper, a holder, a kicker and an offensive line that all have to do their job. We’re focusing on getting all those things fixed by the time they play Burnet.”
The Billies’ first district game is at home against Burnet, Oct. 9.