Running hard

Ty Klender bursts through the end zone for a touchdown.

The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate football team held off the Aransas Pass (AP) Panthers late in the fourth quarter to open the season with a 20-12 victory Saturday, August 31 at home.

RFHS starts the season 1-0 with a ground attack that accounted for three touchdowns (TD) and 219 yards.

AP had its chances to score on offense but the Pirate defense forced 4 turnovers, two of them inside the redzone.

In the first quarter, RFHS received the opening kickoff but was forced to punt.

AP punted shortly after with a pass break-up on third down by Luke Muirhead.

RFHS was forced to punt again but the attempted fair catch was bobbled and recovered by Logan Lillis.

With a short field, Loudermilk broke a big run inside the redzone and finished on a one-yard TD run to take a 7-0 lead with 4:06 remaining in the first.

In the next drive, AP took a shot down the left sideline and was picked off by Muirhead, who returned it to midfield.

Loudermilk capitalized on the quick turnover and took it 48 yards to the house on a read option up the middle to give the Pirates a 14-0 lead into the second quarter.

Both offenses exchanged possessions to start the second. The AP offense was set back early with a tackle for loss by Brandon Kilough.

In AP’s next drive, they took another deep shot down the right sideline and got picked off again; this time by Clay Williams inside the Pirates 5-yard line.

RFHS, however, surrendered their first points of the game on a bad snap into the endzone. Loudermilk recovered the loose ball and chucked it deep to avoid a sack. However, with no receiver in the area, intentional grounding was called and resulted in a safety.

The RFHS defense held AP after the punt and went into the half leading 14-2.

AP opened the third with possession and capitalized with a touchdown that was aided by two personal fouls called on the Pirate defense. The 15-yard TD run by AP put the game at 14-9.

In the next series, RFHS answered back with a TD that was aided by a fourth down conversion by Loudermilk and two personal fouls on the AP defense. Ty Klender finished the drive with a short TD run. After a failed two-point try, RFHS led 20-9 to end the third.

After an exchange in possession by both teams, AP advanced into Pirate territory but could not convert on third down with less than four minutes to go. AP elected to kick a 40-yard field goal and made it.

Ahead 20-12, RFHS went on a time chewing drive to eat up more than three minutes of clock. They eventually punted and gave the ball back to AP with 26 seconds left.

On what would have been the last play of the game, a big hit by Joe Franks on an AP receiver was called for targeting. Franks was ejected and AP was given one more down. The game was delayed for several minutes as Emergency Medical Services escorted the AP receiver off the field.

In the last play, Payton McAlister and Devin Mendoza sacked the AP quarterback. Mendoza also forced a fumble and recovered the loose ball to end it.

Loudermilk rushed 20 times for 162 yards and two TD’s.

Klender rushed six times for 21 yards and one TD.

Nathan Cason led RFHS’ defense with 13 tackles. Ean McPherson finished with 11 tackles and Sam Cheaney tallied 10 tackles.

The Pirates will take a two-hour drive northeast to El Campo for a tough non-district matchup.

The game is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6.

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