By Jim Pitts
Corsicana Daily Sun
RICE — Russell Holden caught two touchdowns passes from Will Burnham, including the game-winner with 49 seconds remaining, as the Mildred Eagles (6-2, 4-1) edged the Rice Bulldogs, 14-13, in District 6-2A DII play Friday night at Bulldog Stadium.
Mildred, after being shut out last week for the first time in 57 games, struggled offensively again, but found enough offense at the end of each half to score twice. The two drives accounted for 132 yards of offense, more than half of Mildred total of 257 yards for the night.
With the offense struggling, the Eagle defense shined in the second half, shutting out the Bulldogs and holding the Rice offense to only 68 yards of offense. Rice (3-5, 2-3) gained 224 yards in the first half.
Early on, it was the Bulldogs surprising the Eagles and getting out to an early lead. After both teams were stopped in the other’s territory to begin the game, the Rice offense put together an 8-play, 88-yard drive, which ended with Rice’s Angel Oropeza scoring on a 15-yard reverse as time expired in the first quarter.
The Rice defense set up the next Bulldog touchdown when Raven Huffman recovered an Eagle fumble at the Mildred 39. It took the Bulldogs one play to score with Austin Peppers finding Huffman open for a 39-yard touchdown pass to give Rice a 13-0 lead.
Mildred responded with a 4-play, 61-yard drive, as Burnham completed three passes for all 61 yards, including Holden’s first touchdown with 1:10 remaining in the half. Holden finished the night with 171 yards of total offense.
On the ensuing possession, the Mildred defense came up big as the Eagles stopped Rice deep in Mildred territory. The Bulldogs moved from their own 8-yard line to the Mildred 25, but a penalty wiped out a Rice pass inside the 10 and Holden picked off a Rice pass with less than 10 seconds remaining to deny the Bulldogs a chance to add to their lead.
Rice’s initial possession of the second half was much like the one that ended the first half. The Bulldogs, behind the running of Chris Atchley and Peppers, twice moved the ball deep into Mildred territory. An interception by Dalton Horner at the 10-yard line and a fourth down stop at the 27-yard line, kept the Mildred deficit at six points.
With a little more than three minutes remaining, Mildred took over own its own 38-yard line to set-up the last-minute heroics. Two key plays highlighted the drive for the Eagles. First, a 33-yard pass from Draylon Sterling, who picked up the fumbled snap, to a wide-open Holden to convert a third down and 10 play with a little more than two minutes remaining. Then, with less than a minute to play, on fourth down and 11, Burnham found Holden open for their second 18-yard touchdown of the night. Devin O’Sullivan added the extra point to give the Eagles the one point victory.
Rice’s Sergio Gonzalez led all rushers on the night, gaining 93 yards on only eight carries. Holden finished with six catches for 101 yards.
Mildred 14, Rice 13
Mildred 0 7 0 7 — 14
Rice 7 6 0 0 — 13
R — Angel Oropeza 13 run (Jesus Garcia kick), 0:00
R — Raven Huffman 39 pass from Austin Peppers (kick failed), 2:00
M — Russell Holden 18 pass from Will Burnham (Devin O’Sullivan kick), 1:10
M — Holden 18 pass from Burnham (O’Sullivan kick), 0:49
First downs 11 18
Rush-yards 28-104 47-215
Passing yards 153 77
C-A-I 12-18-1 3-9-3
Fumbles-lost 4-2 4-2
Punts-avg. 2-30.0 3-28.0
Penalties-yards 11-115 12-76
Rushing — M: Russell Holden 13-70, Will Burnham 6-23, Draylon Sterling 5-15, Hunter Freeman 2-4, Mikey Muncy 2-(-8). R: Sergio Gonzalez 8-93, Chris Atchley 19-58, Austin Peppers 18-49, Angel Oropeza 2-15.
Passing — M: Burnham 11-17-1-120, Sterling 1-1-0-33. R: Austin Peppers 3-8-2-77.
Receiving — M: Holden 6-101, Muncy 4-40, Kyle Roach 1-13, Sterling 1-(-1). R: Raven Huffman 1-39, Sim Nevar 1-24, Oropeza 1-14.