Bulletin Staff Report
LAMPASAS — Richland Springs rebounded from a 20-8 first quarter deficit to end the Calvert Trojans’ season, 76-26, in the Six-Man Division I Region IV championship game here Friday night.
Tyler Ethridge scored four touchdowns and Mark Williams added three more — including the game-ending score with 1:40 left in the third quarter — as the battle of two unbeaten teams ended on the 45-point rule. But it wasn’t a cakewalk for the Coyotes or their fans. After Andrew Fowler opened the scoring with a 21-yard touchdown run with 8:39 left in the first quarter, Calvert unleashed its speed to mount a 12-point advantage with less than three minutes left in the quarter.
But Richland Springs (12-0) scored 54 unanswered points before Calvert (12-1) found the end zone again halfway through the third period.
The adjustments the Coyote defense made after Calvert’s quick three first-quarter touchdowns?
“The only adjustment we made was to tackle,” Coyote head coach Jerry Burkhart said, who picked up his 67th victory against two losses in his coaching tenure at Richland Springs.
“Tyler Ethridge is such a player, and so is Mark Williams,” Burkhart added after the game ended. “We’re excited. But we’re going to take one game at a time. We’ll celebrate this win and come back Monday and prepare for the next opponent.”
That will be No. 8 Trinidad (11-1), a 69-24 winner over Abbott Friday night. No date or place for that six-man state semifinal game had been announced Friday.
Richland Springs, ranked No. 1 in the latest sixmanfootball.com poll, showed the gap between the top team and No. 3, the ranking given Calvert.
“Mostly the credit goes to God, then it’s our fans,” Ethridge, a senior looking to repeat last year’s state championship, said. “That’s why we’re such a great team. It took a lot of preparation, and our blockers did a heck of a job tonight.”
“Calvert was fast and agile and they liked to hit,” senior Patrick Couch said. “We thrive on games like this.”
Williams said the defense “picked it up and closed some gaps” that allowed the early Calvert scores, which all came from long-range. “We filled some gaps that we weren’t filling.”
After Fowler’s opening score for the Coyotes, Calvert scored on a 60-yard kickoff return by Travis Walker with 8:28 left, a 65-yard run by Walker with 5:55 left, and a 60-yard run by Wendell Green — all in the first quarter. Only the third kick for points-after was good.
But that’s when the Coyote defense clamped down. An Ethridge touchdown late in the quarter plus Richie Daniels’ second kick of the night narrowed Calvert’s lead to 20-16. And the Coyote defense stopped Calvert on a fourth down gamble at its own 34.
Shelby Smith put the Coyotes ahead to stay with 9:54 left in the half. Ethridge added touchdown runs with 8:08, 3:50 and 44 seconds left in the half, and Williams had one with 6:25 remaining. Daniels’ kicks were good on all but one of the points-after. The half ended with the Coyotes ahead 54-20, and the fans were anticipating a quick end to the game.
It appeared even more imminent when Williams ran 18 yards for a touchdown with 6:04 left in the third, and Daniels’ kick was good, upping the score to 62-20. But Green returned the kickoff with 5:51 left, and the kick failed. Still, Richland Springs was ahead 62-26.
The Coyotes went ahead 70-26 on a 3-yard run at the 1:59 mark.
Ethridge recovered a fumble on the kickoff, setting the Coyotes up on the Calvert 36-yard line. From there, Williams put the game away with a touchdown run.