BALLINGER — With a roster full of new faces, the Bangs Dragons came up with an impressive 52-27 win in their season opener against the Ballinger Bearcats in Ballinger.
Dragons head coach Chuck Lipsey was very pleased with his team’s first outing.
“We didn’t know what the kids were going to do,” Lipsey said. “You never know how they are going to respond, but they responded well. They weren’t cocky or over-confident. We brought some kids up in key positions and they did well.”
Bangs returns only five offensive starters from a 2013 team that advanced three games deep into the playoffs.
One of the biggest questions going into the season opener was who would fill the shoes of three-year starter J.T. Newton at quarterback.Senior Keegan Hall, who played wide receiver last year, looked very comfortable in the quarterback role as he directed the Dragon offensive attack.
“The offensive line blocked very well. All of the backs ran good,” Lipsey said. “We didn’t have to throw the ball much because Keegan was getting some good reads. I’m just proud of the whole offense.”
The defense which also returned only five starters looked very confident as Bangs kept Ballinger out of the end zone for the entire first half.
“Defensively we really shut them down the first half,” Lipsey said. “We gave up a couple of big plays in the second half, but the thing that really made me proud was how they stepped back up and shut them down again in the 4th quarter.”
Bangs first score came at 6:23 in the 1st quarter when senior Justin Robinson caught 20 yard pass from Hall. Carlos Mejia who was perfect on the night with the kicking game tacked on the extra point. The Dragons led 7-0.
Returning running back Seth Ross ran in from the 6 yard line with 2:45 in the opening period capping off a solid 56 yard drive. The extra point was good bringing the score to 14-0.
Bangs continued to dominate the line of scrimmage in the 2nd quarter. Keegan Hall ran in from the 3 yard line with 7:14 to play. Mejia tacked on the extra point and the Dragons coasted to an easy 21-0 lead.
With 1:17 to play in the half, Ross dashed 58 yards to give the Dragons a 28-0 lead at half.
What had seemed to come so easy to the Dragons the first half seemed illusive in the second half as the Bearcats took to the air to pull within 8 points of Bangs. The Bearcats scored with 10:05 to play in the 3rd as Ballinger’s Davis Matschek caught a 49 yard pass. The 2 point conversion failed. Bangs led 28-6. Matschek caught a 15 yard pass with 5:04 to play to move up on the Dragons 28-12 with another failed 2 point try.
Ballinger’s back-to-back scores seemed to bring the Dragons back to life. Back-up QB sophomore Trett Mitchell guided the offensive down the field ending in a 5 yard run by senior Bryant Cahill with 1:56 to play in the 3rd. The PAT brought the score to 35-12.
The Bearcats roared back on a 20 yard run with 11:53 to play in the game. This time the two point try was successful and Ballinger chipped away at the Dragon lead 35-20. The moment swung to the Bearcats when on Bangs next possession a missed handoff from Keegan Hall to Seth Ross resulted in a fumble that was picked up by Ballinger’s Tanner Salazar who ran 43 yards for the TD. The extra point was good as Ballinger closed the gap to 8 points with 10:57 to play.
But it would be all Dragons from then on. Carlos Mejia booted a 27 yard field goal with 8: 11 to play. Dragons went ahead 38-27. Keegan Hall ran 26 yards up the middle on a QB keeper to bring the score to 45-27. Senior Clay Funderburg tacked on the last Dragon score with a 2 yard run with 4:17 to play in the game.
“I thought it was an overall good effort and a great first ball game,” Lipsey said.
The Dragons will host Llano next week at Memorial Stadium