Sealing the victory

Bronnson Hutson forced a fumble, which Rickey Franks recovered, sealing the dramatic win for the Pirates.

In an all-out team effort, the Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate football team took it to the Miller Buccaneers and came away as victors in a 44-41 battle Friday, Sept. 18 at Pirate Stadium.

After coming off a two week hiatus due to a positive COVID-19 case, RFHS only returned to practice Saturday, Sept.12 to get ready for a battle with the #5 ranked 4A-DII Miller Bucs.

The Bucs came into the game 2-0 and put up more than 60 points in blowout victories over Tuloso-Midway and Sinton.

The Pirates went in knowing they were in for a battle, but confident they could compete with Miller for four quarters.

“The whole time our boys thought we were going to win, they believed we were going to win,” said RFHS Head Coach Jay Seibert.

RFHS is now 2-0.

In the first quarter, RFHS received and marched down the field after a big run by John Chupe set up Ryan Wells for the go-ahead rush touchdown (TD) from 3 yards out.

Less than a minute later, Miller answered quickly in three plays to tie it up at 7-7.

RFHS ran it down the throat of Miller and pushed their way into the redzone before Miller got three stops to make it fourth down. RFHS went for it and Ace Seibert passed to Kaden Harder at the one yard line and drove in to make it 14-7.

Miller was efficient through the air again and connected on a 15 yard passing TD to make it 14-14.

Miller scored at the beginning of the second quarter with 11:33 left.

RFHS had a quick answer for the Miller TD and scored in three plays. A. Seibert found Harder down the middle for a huge 46 yard gain. Two plays later, Luke Muirhead took a handoff to the outside and scored on a 20 yard TD to make it 21-14.

On the ensuing kickoff to Miller, Cristobol Deleon squib kicked it down the middle to an unsuspecting Miller special teams group and Ryan Wells recovered the loose ball to give possession back to RFHS.

RFHS worked its way downfield on the ground and eventually scored on a 15 yard pass TD from A. Seibert to Harder to make it 28-14.

With 7:41 left in the second quarter, Miller got the ball back and marched downfield through the air. However, Miller’s Andrew Body threw a high ball to a wideout in the endzone and the pass was jumped by Rickey Franks and picked off for a short return.

RFHS drove its way to Miller’s side of the field but did not finish with points after a fourth down conversion failed just outside the redzone.

Miller got the ball back with four minutes to the half and eventually scored on a short TD run with 16 seconds remaining.

RFHS took a knee to end the half.

In the third quarter, Miller received and broke a big run to quickly put them inside the 10.

Miller stalled slightly after the big run, but eventually got in on a QB sneak to tie it up at 28-28.

In RFHS’s next possession, Miller stalled the Pirate offense on fourth and one, bringing down Chupe for no gain.

Two plays later, Miller scored on a 27 yard pass TD to take a 35-28 lead.

RFHS got the ball back and pounded away. Muirhead broke free on a 52 yard run to put RFHS inside the five. A couple plays later, Chupe took a handoff to the outside and dove to the pylon for the score.

On the point-after-try, a bad snap resulted in a loose ball to the kicker, Deleon. As Miller lineman charged after Deleon, he flipped the ball to his holder, A. Seibert, and rolled out for an opportunity to pass. A. Seibert threw it up for grabs to Harder but the ball was tipped downward in a jostle between Harder and a Miller defender. Philip Krupa just happened to be underneath the tipped ball and corralled it in for the score. The accidental 2-point try gave RFHS a 36-35 lead with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter.

In the next series for Miller, the Bucs marched downfield and looked to score heading into the redzone. However, a long delay was caused as coaches from both teams and referees argued over a problem that occurred with the down and distance. Miller had been essentially given a free first down, and because the mistake had already occurred after an ensuing play, the referees allowed the game to continue as is. Because of the mistake, Miller was easily afforded the opportunity for a go ahead rushing TD. Because of RFHS’s 2-point conversion earlier, Miller also went for two and failed.

Miller took a 41-36 lead with 11:32 remaining in the fourth quarter.

In the next drive, RFHS committed its first turnover of the game after A. Seibert was pressured up the middle and threw an interception that gave the ball back to Miller at RFHS’s 30 yard line.

However, RFHS’ defense put Miller in a fourth and five and the Bucs elected to go for it. On the play, Miller QB Andrew Body threw to a wide-open Adraean Lloyd but the pass was dropped and forced a turnover on downs.

RFHS worked its way downfield with a big pass completion from A. Seibert to Cade Leal. However, as RFHS drove into the redzone, Wells lost the ball on a run up the middle and gave Miller possession with time ticking.

Miller drove downfield with a strong rushing attack by Body and their duo of backs. However, Miller elected to pass after a tackle by Josue Fuentes shook up one of Miller’s backs. In the play, Body looked to hit a receiver in the slot on a slant; however, George Marable jumped the route and picked off Body to set up the game winning drive.

RFHS got a big play on a screen pass from A. Seibert to Harder that went 40 yards to put them inside the redzone. RFHS continued to pound away at the Miller defense and with 59 seconds remaining, Devan Phillips found pay dirt on a diving nine yard rush TD. Only up by one, RFHS went for two and Chupe took a handoff to the outside and fought his way in for two.

Leading 44-41, RFHS had to hold off one of the states’ most prolific offenses in less than a minute; and they did.

Body completed a pass near the 50 yard line and the receiver was brought down by Bronnson Hutson. During the tackle, Hutson also stripped the ball away and recovered by R. Franks with less than 30 seconds remaining.

A. Seibert took one knee and sealed one of the biggest upsets in Texas high school football over the weekend.

J. Seibert could not have been any happier with the way the team performed.

“It was an amazing team effort,” said J. Seibert. “The great interception by Rickey, the great interception late by George, the fumble call (Hutson), the onside kick (Deleon) that was a huge play,” said Seibert. “All the way around it was a great team win. The coaching staff as well did a great job in getting them prepared to play and it showed.”

RFHS Defensive Coordinator Robie Robbins said the defense made great adjustments to Miller in the second half.

“They were putting it on us and we knew we had to adjust a little bit,” said Robbins.

R. Franks was a player Miller targeted often, but Robbins was happy with the way he rebounded to help seal RFHS’ win.

“They got after Rickey early and we said, ‘Forget it! Move on and look to what’s ahead.’ And he stepped up, made some big plays in the second half and secured the win for our defense.”

Freshman QB A. Seibert said his offensive line played great all night.

“It was a team effort all around,” said A. Seibert. “I thought my offensive line played really well and the defense made some really big stops down the stretch.”

A. Seibert was 8-12 with 169 yards, two TD’s, and one interception.

Receiving, Harder caught five balls for 133 yards and two TD’s.

C. Leal caught one ball for 30 yards.

RFHS’ trio of Wells, Muirhead, and Chupe ran for a total of 336 yards.

Wells had 22 carries for 100 yards and one TD, Chupe had 14 carries for 101 yards and one TD, and Muirhead had 13 carries for 135 yards and one TD.

D. Phillips also had one TD rushing.

Defensive stats were not available at time of early press deadline Sunday, Sept. 20 due to tropical storm Beta.

RFHS will play another state ranked top-25 team this Friday in Flour Bluff. In 5A-DI, they are ranked #17 according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.

RFHS will host Bluff at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25.

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