Big plays, costly penalties and turnovers cost the Boyd Yellowjackets in a season-opening loss to Gunter.
And with all that, they still had every chance to win the game, even into the fourth quarter.
The ‘Jackets dominated the visiting Tigers statistically in the first half, notching 15 first downs to Gunter’s six and piling up 188 yards rushing to Gunter’s 48. But two big pass plays – a 64-yarder and a 31-yarder – along with two extra-point kicks put Gunter up 14-12 at halftime.
Penalties cost Boyd a couple of scores in the second half, and Gunter iced the game with an 80-yard, 16-play drive that ate up most of the fourth quarter and ended in a touchdown.
“We had our chances,” Boyd coach Brandon Hopkins said after the game. “We were up and down the field and we’d shoot ourselves in the foot with turnovers or penalties. We played hard. We did everything – I thought we played well, except you look at the scoreboard. We just didn’t come out on top.”
After a fumble ended their opening drive, the Yellowjacket defense held Gunter to three-and-out and the home team mounted a 90-yard drive on their second possession.
Quarterback Garrett Ragsdale ran for 8, then 15 yards, then hit Chris Carmona for 39 yards on a third-down play. After two short gains, Ragsdale kept the ball again for nine yards and a first down. But a couple of incompletions set up a fourth-and-11 at the Gunter 16.
That’s when Ragsdale rolled out looking for a receiver downfield, and finding everyone covered, lobbed the ball back to Fino Cardona who had stayed in the backfield.
Cardona, the night’s leading rusher, shed tacklers in the open field, followed some good blocking and found the end zone for the season’s first touchdown.
Gunter notched a couple of first downs, but wound up punting Boyd back to its eight yard line on the first play of the second quarter.
After runs of 12, 19 and 10 by Cardona, a Ragsdale pass was broken up in the end zone before an interception on 4th and 11 stopped the drive.
It took Gunter only one play – a 64-yard bomb from quarterback Austen Gressett to speedy receiver Rhett Taylor – to take the lead.
Boyd looked like it had regained the advantage after sophomore Quaylynn Wells returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown – but that highlight-reel run was called back because of an illegal block and the ‘Jackets started at their own 25.
Cardona promptly went 38 yards, then Ragsdale hit Carmona for nine and 11 yard strikes. Wells found the open field again for an 18-yard run to the one yard line before Cardona chugged in and put Boyd back on top. It was 12-7 after the PAT run attempt failed.
But Gunter struck again, this time capping a five-play drive with a 31-yard pass from running back Casen Driskill to Taylor. It was 14-12 at halftime.
“Defensively they hit us with two big plays,” Hopkins said. “That was it – two pass plays down the field. We should have been there. We just didn’t make plays.”
In the third quarter, Gunter went three-and-out and five-and-out on its only two drives – but Wells had another touchdown called back on a holding penalty and the ‘Jackets twice turned the ball over on downs.
Then with 7:41 to play, the Tigers took control of the game, mounting a 16-play drive that ate up more than six minutes. Running back Garrett Hunter did most of the damage before Driskill scored from a yard out to seal the win.
“We ended up with three starters that got hurt,” Hopkins said. “It was nothing serious, but that hurt us on both sides of the ball there at the end.
“The effort was there. We played hard – we’ve just got to get better.”
Cardona finished the night with 145 yards on 21 carries while Ragsdale rumbled for 87 and Wells had 44.
Carmona caught five passes for 67 yards.
Hunter carried 15 times for Gunter for 90 yards – most of it on that game-clinching drive – whle Driskill added 56 and scored both rushing and throwing.
The Yellowjackets will travel to Palmer next Friday, looking for their first win.
GUNTER 21, BOYD 12
Gunter … 0 … 14 … 0 … … 7 … – … 21
Boyd … 6 … 6 … 0 … … 0 … – … 12
Boyd (1:46) – Garrett Ragsdale 16 pass to Fino Cardona, PAT kick no good.
Gunter (6:35) – Austen Gressett 64 pass to Rhett Taylor, Luis Martinez PAT kick.
Boyd (3:46) – Cardona 1 run, PAT run no good.
Gunter (2:09) – Casen Driskill 31 pass to Taylor, Martinez PAT kick.
Gunter (1:32) – Driskill 1 run, Martinez PAT kick.
GUNTER … BOYD
First Downs … 14 … 24
Rushes-Yards … 30-146 … 47-289
Passing Yards … 113 … 101
Total Yards … 259 … 390
Comp-Att-Int … 4-11-0 … 9-24-2
Punts-Avg. … 4-38 … 1-34
Fumbles-lost … 1-0 … 2-1
Penalties … 3-25 … 6-45
Rushing – Gunter, Hunter 19-90. Boyd, Cardona, 21-145.
Receiving – Gunter, Taylor 3-90. Boyd, Carmona, 5-67.
Passing – Gunter, Gressett, 4-11-0, 113. Boyd, Ragsdale 9-22-1, 101.