Despite penalties, Ricebirds open district with a win
EL CAMPO - El Campo had little trouble dealing with Bellville. The Ricebirds also figured out a way to overcome themselves.
El Campo worked around a record number of penalty yards to claim a 28-7 win in its District 25-3A opener Friday night at Ricebird Stadium.
El Campo was penalized 16 times for 165 yards, but still managed to win comfortably in its first district game as a Class 3A team.
"I think it would be a tight game in the fourth quarter if that was the case," said El Campo tight end/defensive end Cole Hunt. "We came out and did fine. Coach (Bob) Gillis said to execute the game plan and we did pretty darn good."
The Ricebirds had 404 yards of offense when they weren't marching backwards and limited the Brahmas (3-3, 1-1) to 95 net yards.
"It's all about keeping our composure and getting it done when we need to," said El Campo quarterback Bryce Brandl. "We did that tonight."
Brandl did his part by rushing 18 times for 164 yards, and completing 5 of 6 passes for 79 yards.
Brandl scored El Campo's first touchdown when he picked up a Montray Johnson fumble at the Bellville 7 and ran into the end zone. He added an 18-yard touchdown run four plays after he had a 55-yard touchdown run called back by a holding penalty.
"We felt like we could get on the edge," Gillis said. "The second half we started running the sweep a little bit better than we did in the first half. We felt like if we could get that end guy blocked, we could get on the edge and run it."
The Ricebirds outgained the Brahmas by 151 yards in the first two quarters, but led only 14-7 after being penalized seven times for 70 yards.
"It was frustrating at halftime," Gillis said. "That's what we talked about at halftime. We can't be frustrated with this, we just have to go ahead and play. I was really happy that our kids came out in the third quarter and established a drive and scored."
Jack Davis' 17-yard touchdown run with 9:38 left gave El Campo a 21-7 lead, which was more than enough for the El Campo defense.
The Ricebirds sacked Bellville quarterback Kyle Fuchs five times and were constantly putting pressure on him.
"Our defensive line is one of the strong points of our defense," Hunt said. "Every time he dropped back it seems like we hit him at least once or twice. The quarterback was on his back a lot. That's what we like to see."
El Campo would prefer not to see so many flags, including two chop blocks and seven holding calls.
Gillis became so frustrated with the officials after one holding call that he drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that left the Ricebirds facing a second and 43.
Gillis did not want to comment about the officiating, but did reference the subject when asked about going forward in district.
"We need to improve on not making so many penalties," he said. "How about that?"