Pickin' up yardage

Luke Muirhead finds daylight in the secondary for a big gain on the ground.

The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate football team is off to its best start since 2014 after defeating the Tuloso-Midway (TM) Warriors 28-6 Friday, Sept. 10 at home.

The Pirates finish the non-district season 3-0 as they enter the bye week. RFHS has not started the season 3-0 since 2014, RFHS Head Football Coach Jay Seibert’s first season at RFHS.

The RFHS offense did not take off against TM as it did in their first two games due to early turnovers in the first two possessions.

“I know as a play caller I never got in a rhythm, I don’t feel like we got into any kind of rhythm as an offense,” said J. Seibert. “It was like we were trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.”

After two straight offensive explosions against Aransas Pass and King, J. Seibert figured a night like this might come.

“I feel like we just beat the heck out of ourselves for three quarters,” sais J. Seibert.

However, the RFHS defense stepped up and stymied the TM offense. TM gained only 16 total yards the entire game. They averaged one yard per carry on the ground and had -11 yards passing.

“Our defense played amazing. They allowed us to make a whole bunch of mistakes offense and special teams-wise because our defense played amazing,” said J. Seibert.

RFHS Defensive Coordinator Robie Robbins said the defense was ready to make a statement after allowing 24 points to King last week.

“We were a little upset giving up 24 points last week. We told the boys, ‘That’s not our goal. Our goal is for the other offense to score less than that each week,’” said Robbins. “They said ‘Hey, we’ve got to get back to work, focus on our fundamentals and get better,’ and that’s what they did.”

In the first quarter, RFHS turned the ball over in their first two possessions. A bobbled and tipped pass led to an interception in RFHS’ first drive, followed by a botched handoff in the next. Nonetheless, the RFHS defense kept the game 0-0.

In the second quarter, RFHS finally found the endzone less than a minute into the quarter on a broken play. Ace Seibert connected with John Chupe down the sideline for a 27-yard touchdown (TD) pass to make it 7-0.

The RFHS offense slowed again during the quarter due to penalties, but the defense continued its dominance. With less than five minutes left, Ayden Rangel recovered a loose ball in the backfield to set RFHS up in plus territory. Two minutes later, Chupe took a handoff up the middle for a 21-yard TD to make it 14-0.

The score remained 14-0 at the half.

In the third quarter, the RFHS defense forced a punt in the opening drive.

RFHS drove downfield to the 2-yard line before Chupe finished the drive, leaping over a TM defender into the endzone to make it 21-0 with 6:33 remaining.

The RFHS defense forced another punt after a big stop in the backfield by Mathew Vasquez led to a fourth and long. Payton McAlister also partially blocked TM’s punt attempt to give RFHS a short field.

On the next play, A. Seibert went play action and threw to a wide open Carsen Flores for a 33-yard TD pass to make it 28-0 with 4:40 remaining.

The score remained 28-0 to end the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, TM finally got on the board after blocking a punt attempt by RFHS and returning it for a TD on the first play of the quarter. TM’s 2-point conversion failed and put the score at 28-6.

After a fumble by the RFHS offense in the next series, TM failed to move the ball against RFHS and was forced to punt again.

While the RFHS offense ran the clock down, the defense continued to shut down TM, leaving the final score at 28-6.

Devan Phillips led RFHS in rushing, going 12-122 yards. He was also 2-10 yards receiving.

Chupe was 13-119 yards rushing with two TD’s. He also caught one ball for a 27-yard TD.

Luke Muirhead was 4-30 yards rushing and 1-42 yards receiving.

A. Seibert was 8-13 passing for 150 yards, two TD’s, and one interception.

Jordan Gibson was 2-34 yards receiving.

Flores was 1-30 yards receiving with one TD.

Phillip Krupa led RFHS in tackles with 15, with two in the backfield.

Payton McAlister followed with 11 tackles, three tackles in the backfield, and one blocked punt.

Ayden Rangel had nine tackles and a recovered fumble.

RFHS will get two weeks to prepare for their first district opponent in Raymondville.

J. Seibert said he feels the team is in a good place heading into district, but playing within the offense will be a key point of emphasis over the next two weeks.

“Using a baseball comparison, tonight (against TM) I feel like we were trying to hit homeruns instead of getting base hits,” said J. Seibert. “That’s not just in the passing game, that’s the running game and everything else. Sometimes you’ve just got to stick it in there for four tough yards.

“I feel like we’ll learn from that and we’re going to see that on film. I mean, we’ve scored 150 points over the last three weeks; I think we’re in a good place there.

Special teams is another area J. Seibert said the team will address. However, he’d rather just not punt for the remainder of the season.

“We’ll clean up the mistakes on special teams. I mean, we didn’t punt all year, and we didn’t look very good doing it. So, hopefully we’ll never have to punt again,” said J. Seibert, lightheartedly.

After the bye week, RFHS will open the district season at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 24 at Raymondville.

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