A healthy dose of El Campo Ricebird running backs and strong defense helped them defeat the Wharton Tigers 70-21 Friday night at Eddie Joseph Memorial Stadium.
El Campo junior Rueben Owens II and senior Johntre Davis pounded out 412 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
Wharton (0-4) employed a four-man defensive front, that kept the Ricebirds (3-1) off-balance early. Coming out of the locker room with a few tweaks, El Campo was able to take a one-score game and stretch it into a blowout, scoring six unanswered touchdowns in the final two quarters.
“They had a great night. (Davis and Owens are) going to do what they do,” El Campo Head Coach Chad Worrell said. “We were kind of out of sync there in the first half, just not getting out on our blocks. We went in at half time and made those adjustments on the board, slowed it down and we executed.”
El Campo juniors Sloan Hurbert, Bryce Rasmussen, Luke Wenglar along with seniors Jack Dorotik, Kerry North, Juan Leal and Lucus Pfeil, helped block the way 511 yards of total offense.
The El Campo defense set the tone early in the game. El Campo senior Matthew Stewart pinned Wharton on the one-yard line with a punt. Backed up in their own endzone El Campo junior Reed Jung stripped the ball out of Wharton’s sophomore quarterback A.J. Gaona’s hands who was rolling out of the endzone, and the ball was recovered by a host of Ricebirds for a quick scoop and score. The two-point conversion was no good.
Despite the miscue early, later in the first quarter, Wharton took the lead. Tigers’ junior running back Raymond Hudson found a crease and broke through up the middle for a long 44-yard run and after a completed extra point, the Tigers led El Campo 7-6.
The lead was short-lived, El Campo on the following possession jumped back on top, with Davis breaking free for a 45-yard touchdown run, capping off a four play 75-yard drive.
El Campo’s defense back on the field held Wharton to a three and out forcing a Tiger punt. Owens caught the short punt, beat a couple of defenders to the edge and ran the ball in for a special teams score to punt them up 20-7 after a made extra point.
Owens on the night had 271 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns.
Wharton late in the second half, looking for a spark run the Wild Tiger, with junior wide receiver Jarrad Newsome at quarterback. The confusion caught El Campo as the combo of he and Hudson brought them to within one score of the Ricebirds. Hudson finished with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
“The defense was playing great (early), and the offense busted some runs,” Wharton Head Coach Chad Butler said. “At half-time, we lost one of our defensive linemen (to injury) and a couple more got knicked up as the second half wore on. We popped big play to make it a one-score game, but when you have two backs (like El Campo) and you can keep running that ball it becomes a war of attrition.”
El Campo senior DK Ward, capped off the night, with an interception on the Tigers’ final drive.
Davis and Owens each broke lose with quick one-play touchdowns in the second half.
El Campo will play Boerne-Champion next Friday on the road.