ANNA — Keelan Crosby and Aaron Lee rushed for two touchdowns each to boost Anna to a 35-28 Homecoming victory over the Bonham Warriors in non-district play on Friday, Sept. 22. Anna (3-1) led, 35-21, with less than two minutes left when Warriors quarterback Tyler Rodriguez connected with Jarrell Stewart for a 42-yard touchdown pass. But the ensuing line-drive onside kick was secured by the Coyotes’ Bubba Jones, all but ending Bonham’s hopes.
Anna picked up a first down and ran out the clock as the Warriors (1-3) burned three timeouts.
“Bubba is like a human vacuum cleaner when it comes to onside kicks,” Coyotes head coach Jason Heath said. “We teach them to get out of the way of a line drive and he sucks it up somehow and covers it up. He’s been big for us on two onside kicks this year.”
Jones said he was fired-up to receive the kick. “I was nervous as well. I couldn’t see out of my visor, but I had to just get ready and stay calm. It came straight to me. … It feels great, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do. Defense-wise, we gave up a lot of points. In the morning, we’re going to go to film and Monday we’re going to come out ten times better.”
From his defensive end position, Jones also collected three sacks, a tackle for a loss and a pass-batted-down.
Bonham led, 21-20, late in the third quarter after Rodriguez juked his way up the middle for a 14-yard touchdown. The Warriors’ 2-point-conversion run failed and Anna’s Lee returned the kickoff to near midfield. Five plays later Lee zig-zagged 22 yards for a score. On the 2-point try, Crosby rolled right and, with a Warrior defender hanging off him, knuckle-balled a throw to Noah Palshaw in the right-front corner of the end zone and the Coyotes led, 28-21.
Bonham muffed the subsequent kickoff and Anna’s King Oke pounced on the ball at the Warriors’ 35. Lee soon scampered into the end zone again, this time from four yards out. “Aaron came in and he looked good,” Heath said. “It’s nice to get him back and I think he’s healthy now.”
Crosby, sharing time at quarterback with Fernando Rodriguez, rushed for a game-high 153 yards on 16 carries as teammate Abner Dubar added 114 yards on the ground, also on 16 carries. Bonham’s Rodriguez threw for 99 yards and the Warriors’ ground game was limited to 95 yards.
“I think coaches, when it’s Homecoming week, we get worried,” Heath said. “There are just a lot of things going on, a lot of distractions. We wanted to come out and perform well. Offensively, we were able to do some good things. Defensively, we had some break downs here and there — on some different things that they’d shown us. I expect us to be better than that. … We came out with the win, and we came out healthy for the most part.”
“We kind of started out a little bit slow,” Anna offensive lineman Jacob Perez said. “Every year we underestimate Bonham and it’s a big mistake. We started getting our momentum back because of our defense. Everyone started doing their job, participating, just working as a unit.”
Bonham head coach Tony Johnson said mistakes cost his team. “We beat ourselves, taking nothing away from Anna. They’re a good football team. We knew we had to stop No. 2 [Crosby] and we didn’t do it. That was the difference in the game. We made a couple of key mistakes … and had too many missed opportunities that, in close games like that, you’ve got to capitalize on.”
Anna scored on its first possession, a 58-yard drive capped by Fernando Rodriguez’ 4-yard run.
Bonham answered with a 59-yard march, finished by Tyler Rodriguez’ 9-yard pass to Trevor Hartwell. The Coyotes’ next possession stalled and a high snap over punter Emmonte Davis’ head wound up downed at the Anna 15-yard-line. Four plays later, Bonham scored off a fake field goal with an 11-yard toss from Hartwell to Azyon Dunlap. Rodriguez ran in the 2-point conversion and the Warriors led, 15-7.
Later in the first half, Bonham successively pulled off a fake punt, though no points came of the drive. “I run a fake in every game,” Johnson said. “I have for probably 12 years as a head coach. … It’s just something I believe in. I like to get it on film. I have a plethora of fakes. It’s what I do. They just happened to work tonight.”
Said Heath, “That was stuff we knew they were going to do. They’ve shown that on video. The plays they did, we worked on in practice. It’s just a kid not being dialed-in here and there, taking their assignment. Those are the things we’ve got to get better at.”
To cut Bonham’s advantage to 15-14, Anna drove 79 yards in seven plays with Crosby’s 32-yard touchdown dash providing the capper. The Coyotes’ next score was set up by Davis’ interception returned 40 yards to the Warriors’ 21. A block-below-the-waist penalty on the play moved the ball back, but Anna would cash in on a 1-yard run by Crosby to lead, 20-15, at halftime.
The Coyotes were also flagged for a couple of personal foul penalties on the night, as was Bonham. “I was disappointed in some of our penalties,” Heath said. “We talked all week about not reacting, responding the right way. I didn’t think we did that at times and we gave them opportunities.”
Next up, on Friday, Sept. 29, Anna travels to face Nevada Community (2-2) and — after a bye week — the Coyotes open district play at Paris North Lamar on Friday, Oct. 13.