Underneath the big city lights of downtown Houston, the El Campo Ricebirds offense shined brightest.
Despite scoring almost at will, the Ricebirds (3-1) had just enough offensive firepower to outduel the St. Thomas Eagles (0-1) picking up the 48-37 road win Friday night.
“I thought it was a tremendous team effort,” Ricebirds Head Coach Wayne Condra said. “We had a lot of people step up and we made plays when we had too. That goal-line stand at the end of the game was big. Everybody rose up and made plays when we had too.”
The Eagles and the Ricebirds traded points throughout the game. El Campo jumped out to a 27-17 lead in the first half. However, the Eagles would not go away hitting El Campo’s defense with big strikes and mid-way through the third quarter St. Thomas trailed 34-31.
With the Eagles right on the Ricebirds heels, senior Nathan Willis returned a kickoff 95-yards for a touchdown to give El Campo some breathing room again. The special teams touchdown was the second on the night, with sophomore Rueben Owens ll running one back in the first half for one of his four touchdowns in the game.
The Ricebirds defense pressured the Eagles quarterback. While they moved him out of the pocket throughout the game, he was still able to find receivers and again the Eagles found the endzone.
El Campo took a page out of Calhoun’s book from two weeks ago and decided to grind time off the clock in the fourth quarter.
St. Thomas kicked the ball back to El Campo pinning them on the 30-yard line with nine minutes left in the game. Behind the El Campo offensive line, Owens and junior Johntre Davis marched the ball down the field. Davis capped off the drive with a touchdown run from inside the 10-yard line, ultimately taking seven minutes off the clock putting El Campo up 48-37.
“Great job by the offensive line creating some holes and the running backs getting out there and running,” Condra said.
St. Thomas with under two minutes remaining quickly drove the field. The Eagles two scores down made their way into the red zone, but the El Campo defense made a stand. On fourth and two with 30 seconds left to play, linebackers, junior Jacob Lopez and senior Kaden Alcalais brought down the Eagles running back for a loss, sealing the shootout win for the Ricebirds.
Both teams combined to score 85 points, but it was El Campo’s defense who came up with a final play to give them their third win of the season.
The Ricebirds have a bye this week. They won’t play again until Oct.9 when the Stafford Spartans come to Ricebird Stadium.