Rangers clinch ninth con­sec­u­tive post­sea­son berth

San Antonio Express-News - - SPORTS - By Tucker Stephen­son

NEW BRAUN­FELS — Smith­son Val­ley clinched its ninth con­sec­u­tive trip to the play­offs Fri­day night af­ter out­last­ing New Braun­fels 20-3 at Uni­corn Sta­dium.

The Rangers (5-4, 5-2) were shut out in the first half but used a 20-point on­slaught in the fi­nal two quar­ters to keep their sea­son alive. Run­ning back Ja­cob For­ton pro­vided a spark with a 25-yard touch­down run in the third quar­ter that gave the Rangers the lead for good.

“Coach (Larry Hill) gave us a great half­time talk, and we knew what was at stake,” For­ton said. “We had to come out and hit them hard.”

Smith­son Val­ley tacked on a pair of Ma­son Reid field goals later in the third quar­ter and turned to its de­fense to seal the vic­tory. Each of the Uni­corns’ first three pos­ses­sions in the fourth quar­ter ended with a turnover on downs.

The Rangers’ Dar­ling­ton Frasch added a 1-yard TD run with a minute and 50 sec­onds re­main­ing in the game.

New Braun­fels (4-6, 3-4) dom­i­nated the first half, out­gain­ing Smith­son Val­ley 200 yards to 47 and rack­ing up 12 first downs to the Rangers’ three. How­ever, a 29yard field goal by Chase Mercer was all New Braun­fels had to show for its ef­forts be­fore half­time.

The Uni­corns had an op­por­tu­nity to vault ahead by two scores late in the sec­ond quar­ter when they drove to a first-and-goal sit­u­a­tion at Smith­son Val­ley’s 3-yard line. A tackle for loss and false start penalty pushed New Braun­fels to the 6, and Ranger de­fen­sive back Jalen Nutt jumped a short route on third down to in­ter­cept the ball just out­side the goal line.

“I knew it was com­ing,” Nutt said of the in­ter­cep­tion. “We’ve been prac­tic­ing it all week.”

The Rangers ad­vance to face Austin Lake Travis in the first round of the post­sea­son.

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