The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate football team played in a tough, hardnosed defensive slugfest Friday, Oct. 1 in a battle for district supremacy with the Sinton Pirate at home. The game was not decided until the final 20 seconds, when Sinton scored the game winning touchdown to hand RFHS its first loss of the season 28-21.
The loss puts RFHS at 4-1 overall with a district record of 1-1.
With five district games left, RFHS currently sits fourth in District 16-4A Div. II standings. Ingleside, Port Isabel, and Sinton are undefeated in district play.
While several games in the area had been postponed or moved up due to the threat of thunder and lightning, RFHS and Sinton played as scheduled without interruption. The field conditions were wet and muddy, resulting in a slow start for both teams offensively.
The first quarter ended without a score from two teams who normally put up points in a hurry.
Instead, a defensive battle ensued, with both teams trading interceptions.
While the RFHS offense struggled to get going, the RFHS defense battled and held Sinton to zero points.
Sinton was the first team to eventually find the endzone with five minutes left in the second quarter to take a 7-0 lead.
Meanwhile, RFHS’ offensive woes continued.
For the first time all season, RFHS did not score in the first half.
The offense made one trip inside the redzone, but failed to come away with points.
RFHS Head Football Coach Jay Seibert said he took the blame for the offense’s inability to move the ball in the first half.
“I should have just stuck to what we were doing and what we were good at,” said J. Seibert. “I blame the first half offensive problems on me, and you can type that.
“We went back to what we were good at in the second half, and we moved the ball and had a couple big plays.”
With the offensive weapons Sinton had at their disposal, J. Seibert said he couldn’t have asked for a better performance from his defense considering the offense’s inability to sustain drives.
“The defense played great,” said J. Seibert. “And if we don’t run more than 23 plays in the first half, they’re more rested in the second half.”
The RFHS defense had even come up with a big fourth down stop at the goal line on the final play of the half.
J. Seibert said there’s no question in his mind how good RFHS’ defense is this season.
“We have a damn good defense, it’s a tough group. We’re going to fight with whoever we play,” said J. Seibert. “If you beat us, you’re going to have to earn it, and they (Sinton) earned it tonight.
“I told our boys, there’s only one way you can go back and get them: You take care of district, and get them in the fourth round.”
In the third quarter, Sinton received and wore down RFHS’ defense for five minutes and ended the drive with a score to put RFHS in a 14-0 hole.
The RFHS offense finally hit its stride in the following series.
After a big run by John Chupe and third down reception by Ean McPherson, Ace Seibert found Franks in the endzone for an 18-yard pass touchdown (TD). The third quarter ended 14-7.
In the fourth quarter, Sinton responded once again in the 10th minute with a passing TD to make it 21-7.
On the ensuing drive, A. Seibert connected with Jordan Gibson down the middle to put RFHS at Sinton’s 1-yard line. Chupe barreled in from the 1 to put the score at 21-14 with 7:48 remaining.
The score remained the same until the last four minutes of play.
In the fourth minute, RFHS fumbled the ball away on an attempted scramble by A. Seibert on their side of the field.
Things weren’t looking good for RFHS, not until Payton McAlister forced a fumble on Sinton’s quarterback. The fumble resulted in a recovery by Ryker Whitstine near the 5-yard line.
Chupe was stuffed in the backfield on RFHS’ next offensive play, nearly drawing a safety.
With RFHS backed up at the two-yard line, Sinton sent the house on the next play. To their surprise, A. Seibert faked a handoff to Chupe and threw over the top to a wide-open Luke Muirhead. Muirhead turned on the jets and scored on a 98-yard passing TD to tie the game at 21-all with 3:23 left in the quarter.
A. Seibert’s passing TD to Muirhead ended up being the longest receiving TD of the week in Texas.
As the game finally appeared to be swinging in RFHS’ favor, Sinton took another long possession, converted a crucial fourth down, and scored once more with 20 seconds remaining.
RFHS was unable to respond, resulting in the 28-21 loss.
A. Seibert was 5-15 passing for 159 yards, two TD’s, and one interception.
Chupe led RFHS in rushing with 17-100 yards and one TD.
Muirhead followed going 3-39 yards rushing.
Muirhead also led in receiving yards with one catch for a 98-yard TD.
Franks followed with one catch for an 18-yard TD.
Defensively, McAlister led the team in tackles with 18.
Joe Moreno followed with 17 tackles. He also caused one fumble.
Phillip Krupa had 12 tackles.
The offense will look to bounce back from a down performance this week in another game down in the valley against Rio Hondo.
RFHS will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8 in Rio Hondo.