Even good teams have bad nights.

Ten penalties for 108 yards, three fumbles and crucial dropped passes can ruin any team’s chances. The Tolar Rattlers (1-1) football team found out the hard way Friday in its 33-16 defeat to the visiting Early High School Longhorns (2-0).

“We’ve got a good football team, guys. We got some good football players,” Assistant Coach Tyler Hall told his players in a post-game huddle. “We've got to clean some things up. You make a commitment to not let this game define who you are. This week. This year.”

Hall was stepping in for an absent Head Coach Jeremy Mullens.

“Coach is doing better,” Hall said. “He’ll be back in a couple of days.”

After last week’s demolition of the Post High School Antelopes, 48-0, the Rattlers were charged up. Raring for another good battle between the gridiron.

The Rattlers forced a safety after a play on the Longhorns’ 2-yard line early in the game. 

Tolar’s lead was erased when Early quarterback Jaxyn Price found Jeremy Brown for the Longhorns’ first score. The visitors attempted a two-point conversion and Price’s throw was intercepted by Tolar’s Drake Owens.

Momentum shifted and the boys from Tolar regained a bit of their swagger after Joseph Arce broke through the stout Early defensive secondary for a 50-yard touchdown run.

Tolar 9, Early 6.

Penalties and dropped passes were too much to overcome, however.

Early took Tolar’s best punch and fired back a combination of its own: a couple of rushing touchdowns, an interception for a score and a passing play in the end zone. Longhorns led 33-9 early in the fourth.

“We have got to clean up the penalties and play the game with a little more pride,” a frustrated coach lamented after the game.

Tolar junior quarterback Jackson LeCluyse heard plenty from the coach during the game: “I told him to keep his head up? You know.

“We're not going to let one game, one play define who we are. We're going to have some adversity, but we have to overcome those things and move forward,” he said.

The talks must have sparked something in the young play caller. LeCluyse found Wyatt Jones for a 45-yard scoring play with 10:00 left in the game. But it was a little too late.

Adding a bit of comedic relief, the field’s sprinkler system decided to turn on with less than two minutes to play. Longhorns playfully ran under the white mist, a cool respite from the day's heat. 

 “The kids did a lot of good things. Some things just didn’t go our way,” Hall said. “Yeah, it was a tough day. The kids fought hard, but you know they just had a little more adversity to overcome.” 

 

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