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Johnson, Orangefield runs past Hamshire-Fannett

The Orangefield Bobcats proved Friday night that a good running game and tough defense will usually defeat a team that depends on passing.

 The Bobcats’ defense stopped the high-powered aerial attack of the Hamshire-Fannett Longhorns, while the offense ground out an impressive 28-14 victory at Longhorn Stadium in Hamshire.

 H-F quarterback Dante Smith, who came into the game with more passing yards than any QB in District 21-3A, completed only 11-of-31 attempts, either missing his receivers or having them tightly covered.

OF senior quarterback Wesley Ackerman passed only once, but effectively used his five running backs to drive the ball up and down the field.

 Orangefield, now 4-4 overall and 1-2 in district action, controlled the game from start to finish, while Hamshire-Fannett (2-6, 1-2) never got their offense on track and couldn’t stop the Bobcat rushers.

 H-F won the coin toss and went on offense at their own 34 yard-line with a 10-play, 32-yard drive that stalled at the OF 34. The Longhorns went for it on fourth and one and were stuffed to allow the Bobcats to take over.

 Three plays later, OF senior running back Rylan Cook scooted around the left end for a 66-yard touchdown. Curt Nelson missed the extra point kick, and the Bobcats led 6-0.

 The Longhorns muffed the ensuing kickoff and allowed the Bobcats to recover the ball at the H-F 22. Cook scored his second TD of the night two plays later.

 After an offside penalty moved the ball to the one-yard line, senior running back Casey Raley ran in for the two-point conversion to put OF up, 14-0.

 Hamshire-Fannett’s next drive stalled at the OF 32-yard line, where it was forced to punt. But OF’s punt returners touched the ball and let it get away, allowing the Longhorns to recover at the Orangefield 11 yard line.

 Smith scored on the next play, and Blake Hicks kicked the extra point to tighten the score at 14-7.

 Each team had two more possessions before half time, but couldn’t put any points on the board.

 Orangefield set up shop at its own 45-yard line after a good return to open the second half. The Bobcats mounted a 10-play, 29-yard drive that consumed four minutes of clock before stalling at the H-F 26-yard line. On fourth-and-seven, Cook got the ball and was stopped for no gain.

 The Longhorns’ next series consisted of a three-yard run, a 20-yard pass completion and three dropped passes before they were forced to punt.

 OF senior running back Ty Johnson then tore off an 80-yard touchdown run on the first play to push the score to 20-7.

 A holding penalty nullified Ackerman’s two-point run. The Longhorns then lined up to kick, but pitched the ball to a running back, who was stopped in his tracks.

 Hamshire-Fannett got the ball at its own 44 after the kickoff went out of bounds.

 OF was unable to make much headway in their next possession, and H-F finally was able to create some offense with a nine-play, 84-yard drive capped by an 8-yard run by Smith.

 Hicks kicked the extra point to bring the Longhorns within six points, 20-14 with 8:36 left in the game.

But the Bobcats came storming back with a 63-yard touchdown run by Johnson on the third play of the next series. Raley ran in the two-point conversion, and OF led 28-14 with 6:49 to play.

 Friday’s win keeps Orangefield in the race to make the playoffs. The Bobcats go into next week’s contest at Hardin-Jefferson (1-7, 0-3) one game behind Bridge City and Silsbee, who are tied for second in the district.

 Orangefield closes out the regular season at home Nov. 4, against Bridge City.